As presented to the JCPS BOE on 1/11/16
Last Friday was an unusual school day. And it is my job to teach every student who walks into my classroom. But on this particular Friday, I and many of my colleagues and students all learned something very important.
Class size really does have an enormous impact on student learning. On Friday, there were so many who saw the positive impact that class size has on learning.
On our site Dear JCPS, teachers excitedly shared their stories of the day. One teacher wrote:
” I am a teacher and I had very few students today. I was actually able to do my job AND talk to each student and see how they were doing and answered ALL of their questions. We were able to just visit with one another and work on our relationship building. Why should we have to go through something like this to realize class sizes are too large? Why are we even considering raising the cap? If children are the most important thing to the future of a community, why would we treat them so poorly?”
A Middle school teacher shared “I had 12 kids in 6th grade. We took two tests and still had extra time afterwards. We could be finished with the year’s curriculum by March at this rate!!! ”
“It was wonderful. The kids got SO MUCH more individual attention from me today. A writing project that would have taken a week with the whole class was done in about an hour and they produced better quality work.”
Not only were we able to impact more learning, we had the opportunity to reach children who, because of the current class sizes, are unable to get the attention they desperately need to be successful.
“Friday in my school almost all the kids that showed up had some sort of behavior history. At first, I thought, what irony. As the day progressed, we were all able to talk and enjoy each other’s company. All the kids said, “I wish it was always like this.” No behavior, no attitudes. Just a lovely day at school. I now believe the answer to all our problems revolves around class size. That’s a simple fix that would solve a lot of costly problems.”
According to the Center for Public Education:
- A class size of no more than 18 students per teacher is required to produce the greatest benefits;
- Smaller classes in the early grades can boost student academic achievement –
- Minority and low-income students show even greater gains when placed in small classes in the primary grades*
Looking at the fact that 65% of our students are poverty students, we need to be having serious conversations about how to reduce class sizes. We need to make impactful changes that will allow the students we have to blossom into the students we know are inside. But if the classrooms are set up in a way that doesn’t allow for this kind of deep, involved, relationship building style of teaching, many of our students will miss the opportunity to achieve the things we know that they have within them.
We need to change the dialogue and together come up with a way to reduce class sizes throughout JCPS so that we teachers can be the most effective and so that students can have the individualized and differentiated learning that so many of our students deserve.
Together we can do this.
*See more at: http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Organizing-a-school/Class-size-and-student-achievement-At-a-glance/Class-size-and-student-achievement-Research-review.html#sthash.fotky6eO.dpuf