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?