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Critique: Effects of Class Size and Instruction on Kindergarten Achievement Essay

Introduction This article discusses some very important points that will affect many children as they begin the first steps of their education. It is fairly clear that the authors have done quite a bit of research on the effects of the classroom size and the achievement of kindergarten students. Both authors are affiliated with the same school, the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In reviewing the article, the authors point out some important details pertaining to the quality of the teacher as well as their method of teaching in an effort to keep in line with the NCLB Act(No Child Left Behind Act).

The main aim of the authors is to prove that the size of the class may affect a student’s academic progress because there have been mixed findings in the past as to the validity of this issue. Literature Review One of the main sources used by the authors in their review of literature was an experiment done by students in Tennessee in the 1980’s called STAR (Student Teacher Achievement Ratio). “Researchers have referred to STAR as: “one of the great experiments in education in U. S. history (Mostellar, Light, & Sachs, 1996). ”

The variables are mainly the Kindergarten class size and the teacher’s instruction methods which are well defined throughout the article. Statement of Problem This research study was conducted to determine whether teacher quality is more important than class size for achievement.

The hypothesis is explicitly stated in this article and gave sufficient understanding of the specific variables that were to be studied in the article. An example of the hypothesis would be “teachers may teach differently in larger and smaller classes, Experimental Design 3 some instructional practices may be more effective than others in a smaller class, students may behave differently in larger and smaller classes”.

(Milesi & Gamoran, 2006, pp. 291-293) The authors have made a very convincing argument concerning the stated hypothesis because they used reading and math data collected from children’s classroom experience, classroom size and their teacher’s instructional methods to come up with their definitive conclusion. Methodology The kindergarten class size was measured from a sample of 21,260 children that were enrolled in approximately 1,000 kindergarten programs. It also consisted of children from various racial and ethnic backgrounds as well as socio-economic backgrounds.

Some of the children studied were from private kindergartens and others were from public school kindergartens (Milesi & Gamoran, 2006, pp. 293-294). Data was collected twice throughout the year, during the spring and the fall. Most of the authors mentioned used data that was supplied at the beginning and at the end of the student’s kindergarten year. The parents were asked questions concerning their socio-economic background. In determining the student’s cognitive achievement, information was gathered from the children using a one-on-one computer assisted interview.

Data in the areas of reading, math and general knowledge was used to assess the students. In evaluating the teachers, they were interviewed in the fall and in the spring of a particular kindergarten year (Milesi & Gamoran, 2006, pp. 291-293). There was some concern about the validity of the study because there were some limitations on how the data was gathered from the teachers. There were questions as well as interviews which investigated the teacher’s instructional methods because it captured more of what a teacher’s intentions were as opposed to the teacher’s accomplishments through the year.

Experimental Design 4 The authors had a few limitations but if they wanted to use the descriptive method to demonstrate whether or not the quality of a teachers’ instructional method versus the size of the class played a larger part in a kindergartner’s achievement, it was a necessary step (Milesi & Gamoran, 2006, pp. 296-297). Results The researchers presented very descriptive statistics for all the student levels and class level variables that were used in the analysis. There were descriptive statistics presented for large and small classes.

The researchers weighed the statistics at the student level but not at the class levels but they used descriptive statistics for both the original and the mean-imputed variable (Milesi & Gamoran, 2006, pp. 299-306). Discussion The researchers have offered no evidence that the class size affects reading or math achievements for kindergarten. The major findings were that class size does not affect the achievement of kindergarteners on an average nor does it affect any particular group of students. The researcher’s findings for the class size differ from those of Project STAR (Student Teacher Achievement Ratio).

It was not determined whether the same teachers use different instructional methods in classes of different sizes (Milesi & Gamoran, 2006, pp. 299-309). Experimental Design 5 References Mosteller, F. , Light, R. J. & Sachs. J. A. (1996). Sustained injury in education: Lesson from skilled grouping and class size. Harvard Educational Review, 66, 797-842. Retrieved on February 17, 2011 from ERIC. Milesi, C. , Gamoran, A (2006). Effects of Class Size and Instruction on Kindergarten Achievement. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 28:4, 287-313. Retrieved on March 17, 2010 from http://eepa. aera. net.

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