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Waqas Hamidi
Factors Contributing in Academic Success
Education is a foundation for development; therefore, academic
achievement is the main goal for everyone (politicians, legislators and
people). They are trying to find the factors contributing in academic success
particularly for youngest children (kindergarten- grade 3). Currently, besides
other factors to be considered, one of the controversial and important factors
is class size reduction because of high cost, and requiring of more resources.
Politicians, researchers and legislators most of the times emphasize for its
effect. However, considering all the valuable findings, class reduction and
other related factors have significant effects on very youngest and minority
students, particularly for their academic future.
Actually, the factors negatively effect the academic achievement are
single parents, households whose English is not their first language, large
families, low parental education, residential mobility, teen mothers, and
unemployed parents. Likewise one of the major factors contributing in
academic achievement especially for youngest children are reduced classes.

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Psychologically, small classes have an influence in very young students
from kindergarten to third grade students (K-3). In the very early age, for
youngest students there will be less noise and disruptive behavior from
students, it gives more time for teachers to class work, and gives freedom to
students to engage creatively. it is easy assigning them in groups, small
classes allow teachers to encourage them to discussions, importantly it is
easy for teachers to correctly examine their assignment works. Above all, in
small classes students are more likely to develop better study habits and
higher self-esteem, which can help them to do better in normal classes and
in academic future as well. (The influence of class size on academic
achiement) In addition, according to ( Blatchford, et al,. 2003; Ehrenberg, et
al., 2001) research suggests that small classs pupils in the primary schools do
well in term of their academic outcomes, because they receive individual
attention from the teachers.
Also, according to (Lazear, 1999) small classes has a significant benefit, he
argues that pupils in small classes learn more because in the small class there is
less disruption in, youngest children get attention in small classes, he plausibly
assumes that disruption require teachers to suspend teaching, which can reduce
amount of learning for everyone in the class. There is another benefit of small
class as well, the pupils who spend time in small classes learn to behave better
with closer supervision, leading to reduced propensity to disrupt subsequent

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classes.( as cited in
(Krueger, 2003).
Despite these
assumed benefits, the

Figure 1

NAEP (National Assessment of Education Progress) blame that the steep

drops in pupil-teacher ratios for improving academic performance is
negligible, because a series of tests conducted, which is the only State-wide
indicator of student knowledge in reading, mathematics, science and other
subjects, show no significant gain, in some specific age and subject
categories, such as 17-year-olds and science, actually performance
decreased. (Ehrenberg, et al 2001)
However, these data which was concluded by NAEP is discounted because
these data goes to the main difficulties of students. First, increasing rate of
single parents in late 1980s 1990s, thirty eight percent of these students
came from single parents, as young children they need parents involvement
in education. Secondly, unprecedented immigration to the United States,
twenty percent of these students were from non-native English speaking
families, who had difficulties in English. In result, as a matter of fact, the
majority of those students had difficulties outside schools not inside schools
or class size, which obviously affects their grades. Besides, according to
(Finn, and Achilles M.) students in the small classes outperformed their

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counterparts in normal sized-classes by fifth of standard deviation and that

this sizable jump in achievement generally appeared by the first grade. Best
of all, this advantage seemed to persist into upper elementary levels even
after students returned to larger classes. Achilles found that the benefit was
very strong for minority students like black and Hispanic children; they
performed well while they
were in normal class. (as
cited in Ehrenberg et al,
Although dozens of
analysts show that class size
Figure 2

reduction benefits but Eric

Hanushek of Stanford Universitys Hoover Institution criticize a research

conducted in Tennessee called STAR (Student Teacher Achievement Ratio) he
argues that the STAR data cannot be used to prove the gains of small classes
to persist for years after a student has returned to normal-sized classes. He
also disagrees with an analysis indicating that the benefits of small classes
accumulate, that students who stay in such classes for several years widen
the performance gap with their peers in large classes year by year. When he
studied the four-year gains of STAR, students who were in smaller classes
from kindergarten, until they reached grade three, he did not find the gains
to be larger, and those logged in kindergarten.

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However, students in small classes do well in large classes as well in their

future. The distinguished and experimental research of Tennessee wellknown STAR is one of the most valuable researches in education in the
United States history. According (Schanzenback, 2014) in STAR, over 11,500
students and 1,300 teachers in 79 elementary schools in Tennessee were
randomly assigned to small normal sized classes, during f four years. The
students were in experiment from kindergarten to third grades. Because the
STAR employed randomly assigned, hopefully students in small classes did
great in reading and math. The teachers were found effectively and promote
learning, students had great organizational skills and maintained excellent
personal interactions skills. Above all, small classes have been found to have
positive impacts not only on test scores but also life outcomes. Students in
small classes had variety of outcomes, such as criminal behavior, teen
pregnancy, high school graduation college enrollment and quality of college
attended, savings behavior etc. furthermore, according to (Bain, and Achilles
1986) report that, in Project Prime Time (PPT) which investigated the effect of
class size in kindergarten, first and second grade classes, the students in
smaller classes scored higher on standardized tests than those in larger
class, also smaller classes had fewer behavioral problems, teachers in
smaller classes reported themselves more productive and efficient than in
the normal classes. They reported on the Lasting Benefits Study (LBS) that,
in the fourth and fifth grades children who had originally been in small

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classes scored higher than who had been in normal classes.( as cited in
Mostler, 1995)
For better academic achievement, some factors are also important such as
family, better quality teacher, parents involvement in their childrens
education, providing education for children in their native language. Small
classes has significant effects,
particularly in the youngest
age, it does have influence for
minority pupils, in small classes
students make good learning
habits, recognizing higher selfesteem, pupils doing better in
upper classes, students do
more participation, it is easy for teacher to organize, easy to correctly
examine the paper works, in small classes students receive individual
attention from the teacher. At the end a very excellent quotation, according
(Mosteller, 1995)Aristotle, even when torturing the young Alexander before
he was called the great! Believed to have had one student per class to be
the biggest achiever in the world. Believing in that with all evidence, small
class is a excellent idea for having great academic achievements.

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Bain, H. a. (1986). Interesting development in class size. 66/67, 2-65.
Blatchford, P. B. (2011, April 1). Examining the effect of class size on classroom engagement
and teacher-pupil interaction: Differences in relation to pupil prior attanment and
primary vs. secondary school. 715-730.
Ehrenberg, R. G. (2001). A case study: Shining Star. English for academic study, 285/5, 7885.
Krueger, A. B. (2003, Feberuary). Economic Considrations and Class Size. The Economic
Lazear, E. P. (2001). Educational production. Quarterly Journal o Economics, 116(3), 777-803.
Mosteller, F. (1995). The future of children. CRITICAL ISSUES FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTHS, 5.
Schanzenback, D. W. (2014). Does class size matter?, 1-18.
The influence of class size on academic achiement. (n.d.). Academic Achievement, 157-161.