Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Size Matters

I was recently asked the class size in kindergarten at Jenks and when I said my daughter’s class was 21 with a student teacher, the individual was shocked. It was thought that class sizes were around 30. As far as I can tell the districts' limit is 30 in younger grades but both K classes at Jenks are under 20 (we had a few students move recently).

Furthermore, Dr. Ackerman has reduced class size to 22 for K-3 in the “Empowerment Schools” http://www.phila.k12.pa.us/offices/ceo/ackerman/classsize_reduction.html.

From my perspective class size does not seem to be an issue at Jenks. Although class size should always be a consideration and parents should be aware of changes within the district and the school.

I also think there is a lower limit (although I am not sure what that number is), kids seem to love to work together and learn quite a lot from “peer mentoring”. If discipline is not an issue, lots of kids seem to produce a creative environment. I also think that kids need to learn to work alone and try to figure out problems. Trying a solution and failing is not a bad thing to learn in school, as long as there is follow-up and encouragement to try another solution.

I am very happy with the classroom environment at Jenks thus far.

P.S. Here are some comments from the National Education Association website concerning class size. http://www.nea.org/classsize/index.html

Goal Should Be Student-Teacher Ratio of 15 to 1

Princeton University
According to Alan Krueger of Princeton University, who served as chief economist for the U.S. Department of Labor in the Clinton administration, lowering class sizes in Tennessee narrowed the achievement gap between Blacks and Whites by 38 percent.

Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
In a four-point plan to ensure that all children are educated to their full potential, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching President Ernest L. Boyer called for reducing class size to "no more than 15 students per teacher" for the early elementary grades.

National Association of Elementary School Principals
The NAESP has revised its class size policy statement from a student-teacher ratio of 20 to 1 down to recommending a student-teacher ratio of 15 to 1.

Department of Education
According to the U.S. Department of Education, "A growing body of research demonstrates that students attending small classes in the early grades make more rapid educational progress than students in larger classes, and that these achievement gains persist well after students move on to larger classes in later grades."

Given the strong support of parents and teachers — and the demonstrated effectiveness of smaller classes —Americans should urge their elected representatives at all levels to support continued class size reduction. It's education reform that works!

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