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Reward or punishment? Class size and teacher quality

, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, United States ; , Martin School of Public Policy & Administration, United States

Economics of Education Review Volume 35, Number 1, ISSN 0272-7757 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


The high stakes testing and school accountability components of our K-12 education system create an incentive for principals to behave strategically to maximize school performance. One possible approach is the adjustment of class sizes based on observed teacher effectiveness. Conceptually, this relationship may be positive or negative. On one hand, performance-maximizing principals may place more students in the classrooms of more effective teachers. But because administrators may have compensation constraints, it is also plausible that they may reward more effective teachers with fewer students in the classroom. This paper examines whether principals reward effective teachers by decreasing their class size or whether they increase the size of classes of more effective teachers as a means of enhancing the school outcome. Results overall indicate that more effective teachers do have larger classes. This result holds implications for prior policy studies of class size as well as for education policy more generally.


Barrett, N. & Toma, E.F. (2013). Reward or punishment? Class size and teacher quality. Economics of Education Review, 35(1), 41-52. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved September 21, 2023 from .

This record was imported from Economics of Education Review on March 1, 2019. Economics of Education Review is a publication of Elsevier.

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