Effects of small class size (1:15) on the teaching/learning process in grade three

Mary Evelyn Witherspoon-Parks, Tennessee State University


The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of class size 1:15 on third grade students in: (a) reading achievement, (b) math achievement, (c) basic skills mastery, (d) behavior, (e) attendance, and (f) self-concept. The study focused on an experimental group of 50 students who had been in 1:15 for three years, a control group of 93 students and a blind control group drawn from 35 Nashville schools. The blind control and experimental groups were matched by: (a) sex, (b) race, (c) birthdate within 45 days, (d) California Achievement Test, level 10 or 11 total prereading raw score within four points, and (e) socioeconomic status (free or reduced lunch). The experimental group was compared to 5,082 Nashville third grade students. The results showed that the experimental group did not make significant gains in reading and achievement. However, there was significant differences in student behavior as determined by corporal punishment records. In basic skills mastery, there was no significant difference among the three groups in percentage of objectives mastered in reading or math. Based on the results of this three-year longitudinal study, it would appear that the greatest gains were made in first grade and that these gains were not lost in second or third grade. Among probable causes for the lack of significant gains in second and third grade were: (1) Experimental students were taught in self-contained classrooms in first grade and open-space classrooms in second and third. (2) Low scores of borderline students who possibly would have failed in a class of 25 but were able to minimally succeed in a small class. There was no difference among the groups in attendance and self-concept. The experimental teachers were more positive than the control teachers on the Classroom Condition Survey, particularly concerning individualization. Comments from the experimental teachers' logs were overwhelmingly in support of small class size.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Mary Evelyn Witherspoon-Parks, "Effects of small class size (1:15) on the teaching/learning process in grade three" (1988). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI9017219.