Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Class Size in Irish Primary Schools: 1967 to 2006

I referenced the class size debates in primary-level and higher education recently on this blog. Below is an abstract (also the first item on this link) from a research paper from the ERC in Drumcondra (Irish Journal of Education: Vol. 38, 2010). The paper discusses Govt. policy relating to reduction in primary-school class size over the last 50 years. During the time-period 1967/68 to 2005/06, overall class size dropped from 32.4:1 to 16.6:1. This of course masks variation, which can be examined for the last four years here: by primary-school and class-room.

Susan Weir, Peter Archer, and Laura McAvinue
Educational Research Centre, St Patrick’s College, Dublin

Government policy relating to reduction in class size and pupil-teacher ratio over the past 50 years is outlined. Since the 1980s, the policy has focused on positive discrimination towards schools serving pupils in disadvantaged areas. An examination of statistics reveals a decline in overall pupil-teacher ratio from 32.4:1 to 16.6:1 over the period 1967/68 to 2005/06. Statistics for single-grade class size for the period 1985/86 to 2005/06 also show a decline, more so in junior than in senior classes. Time-series analyses indicate that the introduction of schemes involving reduction in class size to address disadvantage was associated with a perceptible departure from overall trends. Class size in the urban dimension of Giving Children an Even Break (GCEB) was found to be smaller than class size in other urban schools.


Kevin Denny said...

This is not a criticism of the paper concerned but "Who cares?". Or more precisely Why should we care ? in the absence of any evidence that different class sizes in Ireland lead to different outcomes.

Martin Ryan said...

We could look to the international evidence for motivation to care. But as I noted previously, that literature is divided. And as you noted Kevin, more attention needs to be given to the underlying mechanisms.

Martin Ryan said...


I saw this note on class size reduction in Kentucky recently. Thought you might be interested given your current location.

Class Size in Kentucky

It's from the Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center