Anderson 1Alissa AndersonSusan LesterAdv Grammar and Composition28 September 2011 Issue of Class Size In 2000, a study has shown that, “Students in small classes significantly outperformedtheir counterparts in regular size classes in math and reading in both first and second grade.”(Georgia Association of Educators). Increasing class sizes are causing a major impact on studentand teacher performance. In the past, our school districts have slowly added one or twoadditional students per classroom. Currently, because of budget reductions within the schoolsystem, class sizes are continuing to increase which can lead to many problems in and out of theclassroom. Class size has become a major issue in the modern day education system;furthermore, educators must be able to identify and analyze the problem, the immense impact,various solutions, and the future implications. Class size is a major issue that has been taking its toll on both teachers and students inand out of the classroom. Budget cuts are a big part of why class size has increased over theyears: “Cherokee County had set aside money to help it through economic downturns, but thosereserves are gone as it moves into an expected third year of falling tax revenue” (Quinn). Manycounties in the state of Georgia have tried to be financially responsible so that they do not haveto affect the school system drastically. Most school districts will not see a major increase of classsizes within the span of a year because they are afraid of the outcome. The issue of increasing
Anderson 2class size is not originating from the fact that we have a large influx of new students coming toour schools; school districts are simply making budget cuts that affect all members of theeducational system. Teachers will continue to struggle in the classroom while class sizes climband our tax money dwindles as, “Senate Bill 184 would require local school systems to useteacher performance as the primary factor when deciding layoffs” (Hunt and Badertscher). As aresult of this bill, our most experienced teachers, the ones that have been in the education systemfor longer than some of these other teachers have been alive, are getting laid off. The Senate isnot taking into consideration that the curriculum might have changed since their decade, besidesit is not right for our experienced teachers to lose their jobs. Mr. Bloomberg adds in, “If youhave to have smaller class size or better teachers, go with the better teachers every time.”(Medina). In Maureen Downey’s article about class size, Peter Smagorinsky, an experiencedteacher, rebuts Mr. Bloomberg’s opinion about experienced teachers. Mr. Smagorinsky says thatif he only devoted one minute per student outside of the class room each day, this would be anaddition two and a half hours to every work day (Downey). Peter Smagorinsky is a firm believerthat even if we do have “good teachers” in the classroom, it won’t matter if we cram as manybodies as we can in them to educate (Downey). Some people question whether or not the schooldistricts are seriously taking the impact of these swelling class sizes into consideration. With class sizes escalating, it is beginning to affect the students and teachers more thanever. Students are not getting enough one-on-one attention, thus students grades areplummeting, and behavior is worsening as well. Teachers are also under great pressure withmore students being piled into their work environment. With a huge class, teachers are now,“Standing in front of 40 or more students preparing them to take standardized tests, which can be
Anderson 3machine graded.” (Downey). Since teachers have to cram so much information into so manyheads, and they are not getting the face to face time with their students, it is very negativelyeffecting student’s education now and it will in the future (Downey). Students are simplymemorizing the information so that they can pass the standardized test (Downey). It is not thestudents’ fault that their grades are reflecting the key issue of enlarged class sizes. These studentscannot help the fact that standardized tests are the only the thing that “matters” anymore(Georgia Association of Educators). The president from the Georgia Association of Educators,Jeff Hubbard, has stated, “The evidence always has shown, and continues to do so, that lowerstudent/teacher ratios not only increase student performance…but they also contributesignificantly to reducing student discipline problems” (Georgia Association of Educators).Grades are not the only things that are being taken into consideration with the oversizedclassroom; student behavior issues are now becoming apparent. If students are misbehaving inthe class room, it is unlikely that this behavior will stop in school. A math teacher from NorthCarolina reports, “If you’ve gained five kids, that’s five more papers to grade, five more kidswho need makeup work if they’re absent, five more parents to contact, five more e-mails toanswer. It gets overwhelming.” (Dillon). Teachers now have to deal with those extra parents,student absences, teaching the curriculum, and managing students’ behavior (Dillon). It all addsup in the long haul if you just add three kids per teacher. Once the negative effects have becomeapparent, will educators seek solutions? If our school districts are not going to take action in making our class sizes smaller, whatactions will be taken? The University of Maryland has set up a Center for Teaching Excellencethat shows teachers how to better prepare themselves for a large class size. This Center for
Anderson 4Teaching Excellence has said that teachers need to make students become active learners.Teachers need to be aware of the enthusiasm of instruction so it will carry over to the students(Benson). In addition, educators need to make the subject material interesting and need topresent it in an engaging way (Benson). The Center for Teaching Excellence also informsinstructors to be prepared to manage classroom disruptions. It has been proven that larger classsizes have resulted in student behavior worsening (Benson). Teachers must try not to appearoverwhelmed by the student-to-teacher ratio, and are able to handle any situation that may arise(Benson). Adam Gamoran of the University of Wisconsin-Madison has stated that, “Smallclasses are more engaging place for students because they’re able to have a more personalconnection with teachers, simply by virtue of the fact that there are fewer kids in the classroomcompeting for that teacher’s attention.” (Toppo). Students need more attention by the teachers tolearn the material thoroughly and feel like there is a purpose for the class (Toppo). If a teacher isnot interested in what a student is doing in the classroom then the student may no longer have aconcern for their learning ability either. The solutions should be focused on how instructors canadapt to the ever increasing demands caused by larger classes. These solutions need to be actedon quickly to better the future of the students and the career field. Is there any way to predict what the educational system will look like in the future basedon what has happened in the past? A recent vote took place for Georgia school districts and,“The vote essentially guts the prevailing state rules that mandated 23 students or fewer in k-3 and28 in grades 4-8.” (Downey). This does not leave a positive outlook on lowering class sizes.Because of budget cuts, school districts have had to come to a point where class sizes arelimitless (Downey). The director of Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education has gone
Anderson 5out on a limb to say that it has only been proven that class size matters in kindergarten and firstgrade (Downey). Many teachers report the positive impact of smaller class size, but most of thegeneral public does not see the importance of this pressing issue. The outlook for this issue isunclear as the information being put out to the public is not thorough and accurate in what itdepicts. More research needs to be done to realize the impact of ever increasing class sizes onstudents and teachers. Wayne Blanton, a director at the Florida School Boards Association, hasstated that it doesn’t make sense for a class to have to split up halfway through the year, justbecause of one new student (Dillon). In saying this Blanton wants to make it a point that Floridaneeds to make their law a little more flexible in case something like this may take place (Dillon).The major problem with this policy is knowing when it is time to split up the class. This issuewill not change much at all in the future unless action is taken. One of two things must happen;school districts either need to make a major change to class sizes for a year or work a little harderto get our funding up. After extensive research on growing classroom sizes, it is clear that the individualsconsidering teaching as a career must be aware of the escalating demands because of ever-increasing class size. Because of extremely large class sizes, teachers must be flexible andpatient. Most high school seniors are not the most patient and caring people in the world, and atthat point in their life it is not in their best interest to be thinking about going into a teachingcareer while school districts’ budgets are diminishing. Naturally, if a high school senior getseasily annoyed, then teaching a classroom crammed full of students may not be their best careeroption. Furthermore, students interested in teaching should realize that increased class sizesmean fewer teaching jobs. Certainly, while the impact is very harsh on teachers and students in
Anderson 6the classroom, people pursuing this career field should be well aware of the impact of budgetcuts which result in larger class sizes.
Anderson 7 Works CitedBenson, Spencer A, dir. "Large Classes: A Teaching Guide Large Class Introduction." Center for Teaching Excellence. University of Maryland, 2008. Web. 12 Sept. 2011. <http://www.cte.umd.edu/library/teachingLargeClass/guide/ch1.html>.Dillon, Sam. "Tight Budgets Mean Squeeze in Classrooms." The New York Times. N.p., 6 Mar. 2011. Web. 11 Sept. 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/07/education/07classrooms.html?pagewanted=all>.Downey, Maureen. "Class size: After state board vote Monday, the sky’s the limit." AJC. N.p., 3 May 2010. Web. 11 Sept. 2011. <http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled- blog/2010/05/23/class-size-after-state-board-vote-monday-the-skys-the-limit/>.Downey, Maureen. "Does class size matter? Don’t ask Bill Gates. Ask a teacher." AJC. Get Schooled with Maureen Downey, 19 June 2011. Web. 12 Sept. 2011. <http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2011/06/19/does-class-size-matter-dont-ask-bill- gates-ask-a-teacher/>."Georgias children will begin reaping benefits of lower class sizes." Georgia Association of Educators. N.p., Fall 2006. Web. 12 Sept. 2011. <http://gae2.org/content.asp?contentid=1062>.Toppo, Greg. "Size alone makes small classes better for kids." USA Today. N.p., 24 Mar. 2008. Web. 11 Sept. 2011. <http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2008-03-24-small- classes_N.htm>.