Policy Brief/Analysis

Class Size: What’s the Best Fit?

Policy Brief

By W. Steven Barnett, Karen Schulman, and Rima Shore
NIEER Policy Brief (Issue 9, December 2004)


Is there a link between class size and the quality of preschool? Do the gains to children in the form of more individual attention and fewer stressful interactions outweigh the costs of reducing class size? This policy brief examines how class size and staff-child ratios affect quality, educational effectiveness, and cost of preschool programs. Policy recommendations include gradually phasing in class size reductions, accompanied by adequate financial support.

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The Authors

W. Steven (Steve) Barnett is a Board of Governors Professor and the founder and Senior Co-Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University. Dr. Barnett’s work primarily focuses on public policies regarding early childhood education, child care, and child development.