« Do Teachers Have Boy Problems? | Main | Teacher Assignments? Call Scooby Doo! »

Class Size Debate Out of Focus?

| 6 Comments

Eduwonk thinks concerns about the recession increasing class sizes, as raised by a recent an Associated Press are off base. In his view, schools should be more focused on teacher effectiveness:

It’s actually a frustrating story because (a) there really isn’t much of a debate about whether class size matters more than teacher effectiveness, the research is clear it doesn’t, effectiveness matters more and (b) most districts pay little attention to effectiveness when they lay off teachers. Or much at all.

Eduwonk concedes with the right teaching staff, smaller class sizes (less than 20 students) do have noted benefits, especially for students in the very early grades. But he argues that the class sizes increases caused by the current recessionary cuts are of a different order altogether:

We’re not talking about targeted reductions being at-risk here nor are we talking about really small classes**, more like a student or two here and there and mostly across the board. For instance, the article cites LA where the problem is not whether classes are larger by one or two kids in middle or high school but rather that average class sizes there are, according to AP, 35-43 kids, to begin with. That’s nuts.
6 Comments

I disagree. The more students there are, the less time a teacher has for each individual. It's not just about instructional skill. It's also about evaluation, communication with parents and individual attention for each child. Yes teacher effectiveness is important, but there is a remarkable difference between having 21 and 28 elementary students.

I was under the impression that the research wasn't settled on this one with regards to class size in the upper grades. The research I've seen for the younger grades is the STAR study in Tennessee, but that's hasn't been applied to the upper grades yet, has it?

http://www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/ClassSize/myths.html

As for "teacher effectivness", what does that term even mean? Who gets to determine what "effective" is, and until you hammer out that definition, this whole conversation seems moot to me.

I don't know anyone who has spent significant time in a classroom who doesn't believe class size matters. It isn't the whole story. But it is one critical factor in student achievement. Policymakers like to dismiss it as an issue because it is an expensive issue to address. It's cheaper to blame "teacher effectiveness."

I also disagree and think class size definitely matters. The more students you have the less time you have to spend with each individual. Students benefit from individual attention and individualized instruction. Teacher effectiveness is definitely an important element but not the only one to consider.

My experience has been that it gets tougher to teach when the class size gets over 24 and then again over 28. Thank goodness I have never had a class more than 31. I don't know if the students learn less, but I know I have to work harder to keep the class on task and I am not able to cover as much material. It also adds to your grading load; if it takes 15 minutes to grade a test you add an hour for every four student increase. As classes get larger it is tempting to make your tests more short answer and multiple choice, which is not good.

I was RIFd in my district due to a move to go 31:1 in 1-3rd grades. I am a National Board Certified Teacher (NCBT) with a Masters in Reading and Educational Leadership. My students had growth every year in all areas and I worked my tush off to make sure they did. I had every kid with an IEP in my grade level so believe me my class wasn't stacked. I had 20:1 which made it very nice. I think class size was important.

However back to the top of my post. With this formula you would think I might qualify as an effective teacher. My school thought so, my colleagues thought so and the community of students and parents thought so. You know who didn't think so...the union obviously. My downfall was having just 5 years of teaching. Not enough seniority. NO one cared about my effectiveness or my student scores. My only crime was a lack of seniority. How does one fix that?

Comments are now closed for this post.

Advertisement

Recent Comments

  • Paula Leatherman: I was RIFd in my district due to a move read more
  • Walt Taylor: My experience has been that it gets tougher to teach read more
  • Libby Maccani: I also disagree and think class size definitely matters. The read more
  • Mary: I don't know anyone who has spent significant time in read more
  • Joe: I was under the impression that the research wasn't settled read more

Archives

Categories

Technorati

Technorati search

» Blogs that link here

Tags