Saturday, November 3, 2007

Is Size Crucial to School Improvement?

In today’s classrooms teachers are providing discipline, being a caregiver, and teaching citizenship and character education while covering the required state standard course of study to prepare students for standardized tests required by No Child Left Behind. All this is being done as the number of students that enter the classrooms is increasing. With all the demands placed on a teacher, does it matter the number of students that are in their class.
Leaders disagree with the effect class size has on school improvement. Some leaders feel that small class size helps improve student performance because the smaller class size helps teachers build significant relationships with their students, finding what learning styles work best for each student and implementing practices that will help each student succeed. During the 20th century, schools became increasingly larger in an attempt to provide more opportunities for students. While the average class size in a U.S. public high school is about 14 students, low performing students are usually grouped together in a larger classroom environment. By not reaching out to these lower performing students and finding ways to effectively meet their needs they will continue to perform below standard on state tests.
Some leaders think that by reducing class sizes, we are hurting the students by putting less qualified teachers in the classroom. Most leaders agree that while the laws are being put in place to reduce class size, large class sizes still remain in areas with a high percentage of minority, low income, or English as Second Language students.
In my experiences I have found students with the greatest needs are in larger classroom settings. Students that are academically gifted and taking advanced classes have much fewer students and receive much more individualized instruction. School enrollments are expected to increase, class size is expected to decrease, and the number of teachers will increase. My question is where will find qualified teachers to fill these growing classrooms? Will our students’ education continue to suffer because of inadequate teachers? With all of the demands put on teachers how are we going to get them to stay in the profession?


CarmBoricua said...

Hi Rich,
You are so right to be worried about the situation of class size in ratio with the qualified teachers. To add to this dilemma, by 2010, 40 percent of the workforce in the Nation are retiring.This is approximately 64 million people that will reach the retiring age. This is scary when you think all the teachers and administrators that will be retiring.The Department of Education and the school districts know that the workforce is aging and that they will need more teachers, but some of them are not making plans to adjust to this trend. The Department of Education, School Board, State and the Federal government have to create new incentives to motivate students to study teaching. Another alternative is to create incentives for teachers not to retire early and to attract new teachers. Yes size class is very important, but in my opinion having the teachers to teach children is more important.

lklaeren said...

Hi Richard,
Having taught in elementary, high school, and middle school, I think class size is critical to student performance. In fact, I can't think of one teacher I respect that would argue otherwise. The years where I have had smaller classes to work with have been years of excellence; I have had the time to reach out to students in reading, math,social studies and science and challenge their preconceived notions of school.Give me a small class anytime! L.

In Education said...

As the bar is raised higher and higher it is going to be more difficult to find truly qualified teachers. I mean qualified on paper as well as in practice. I think it is improtant to have smaller classes, but it is not the most important factor. I have seen wonderful teachers dop wonders with a class of 40 (yes 40!!). Of course, this is not ideal.