Classroom Size Matters
High school is an experience that is different for everybody. While some go to huge public schools where the classroom sizes are large, others go to private schools where they might have a class of ten people. Does this affect how we learn? Should teachers change their teaching styles to adapt to these different scenarios? Will having smaller classroom sizes still prepare students for college? These are all questions that appear when discussing the topic of classroom sizes in educational reform discussions.
I, personally, went to a private high school. The largest class I ever had possibly had twenty-five students which was a great deal when my graduating class only held forty-two students. Classroom size affected how I was able to understand and comprehend things in high school. Throughout high school, my largest class was Politics and my smallest class was AP US History; they were both taught by the same teacher. While Economics was a class that all the seniors were required to take to graduate. While this should have been cake, I had a really difficult time understand a lot of the key concepts and felt like I could not ask questions because the teacher did not have time to answer them and teach the entire class. I started to suffer the consequences. Then in my smallest class of AP US History, there were only ten students. I was never good at history and I have no clue what made me decide to take the AP class but I did. I ended up with a B in the class and even the teacher informed me that I would not have done as well in the regular class because I would not have wanted to ask questions. Class size does matter.
While having larger class sizes can prepare us for the world of college, it seems to affect how students learn especially in high school. While bigger classes means less teachers, it is truly taking away from the education that a student recieves. “Those students whose performance improves the most are those who need the most help: children from poor and minority backgrounds, who experience twice the gains as the average student. Alan Krueger of Princeton has estimated that reducing class size in the early grades shrinks the achievement gap by about 38%.” (Haimson). You should not feel unable to speak to a teacher because of the size of a class. Teachers sometimes can come off more intimidating in larger classes because of the overwhelming sense of having so many students all in one room. It can be a lot for students to handle. When looking at testing, researchers have seen that class size effects scores. “States that score highest on the SAT on average tend to have lower student-teacher ratios. High-ratio states, however, have scores that hover around the national average.” Ever since high school, teachers have told you how when you get to college that the class sizes are going to be so big in number. The largest gen ed class size that I have had was forty which is not to far off from the number of people I graduated with.
My high school chose the route of smaller classes. However, this may not have been by choice, smaller class sizes have truly helped me be prepared for college. My high school was considered a “college preparatory school” and it truly did that, regardless of class size. Smaller class sizes make a much more student-teacher friendly environment where the students and teachers can engage in a conversation together. Larger classes sizes make the students feel like the teacher is talking at them instead of to them.The teachers will also appreciate this because it will mean more one-on-one time with students in the classroom so they can answer questions in the classroom and less time out of the classroom. It was also mean fewer tests and homework to grade all at one time and make a lessened stress load on the teacher.
“National surveys of educators believe that class size reduction is the most effective method to improve the quality of teaching. In a 2008 survey, 76% of first year teachers said that reducing class size would be “a very effective” way of improving teacher quality, and 21% responding that it would be an “effective” method — for a total of 97% — far outstripping every other reform cited.” See? Even the teachers agree. However, some teachers may just be concerned for themselves. “Professors generally do not like teaching huge courses–not because they hate lecturing–but because they hate grading so many tests and term papers. So they ask administrators to cap enrollments, insisting that ‘small classes are better’ (when, in fact, they are simply concerned about their own work load).” Class sizes need to be reduced for the sake of the students. Why should students feel oppressed intellectually in the classroom and afraid to speak out? Making class sizes smaller should be the first priority schools make next school year.
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The Benefits of Smaller Classes: What Research Shows — http://www.classsizematters.org/benefits.html