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No Educator Left Behind:
Spending Priorities

No Educator Left Behind is a series providing answers from the U.S. Department of Education to questions about the federal No Child Left Behind Act and how it will affect educators. If you have a question about No Child Left Behind, send an e-mail to Ellen Delisio, and we will submit your question to the Department of Education.


If studies show that smaller classrooms and traditional school schedules result in higher test scores and higher quality education, why aren't we spending our money on improving the schools' student-to-teacher ratios and adding more facilities instead of spending money on training teachers to manage overcrowded classrooms?


The Department of Education provides $3 billion in federal funding under No Child Left Behind for improving teacher quality. One way these funds can be used is for class-size reduction efforts, depending on the needs of the local community. Placing a highly qualified teacher in every classroom is our ultimate goal under the law, which pledges a quality education for every single child.

Overall, the record on class-size reduction is mixed. Some studies have shown that reducing class size is effective in earlier grades when coupled with other education reforms, but that the impact is not as significant at the middle and upper grade levels. A 2002 study of California's class-size reduction program did not find conclusive evidence that it led to improved student achievement. I would add that some schools, in particular the inner-city Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), have enjoyed great success by instituting a longer school day and school year. Even the students seem to like it.

Read previous questions and answers in our No Educator Left Behind archive.