Many parents have concerns over how their children are educated. At the heart of these issues is class size. Numbers in classes have gradually risen over the last few decades, and now it seems we have reached a crisis point. Numbers need to be reduced because at their current levels, the quality of students’ education is being negatively affected. Schools need smaller class sizes to stop students from disrupting class, allow teachers to have more one-on-one conferencing and encourage students to be more productive.
Smaller classes enable students to individually conference with teachers for help. “In middle school, the classes were big and the students were talkative and the teacher had no control over the classroom,” said Christofer Luna, a junior at Edward M. Kennedy High. “If the class were smaller, it would be quiet and more controlled.”
In an interview with NPR, Jeremy Finn, a professor of education at the State University of New York at Buffalo, stated that classes of under 20 students are best. “In small classes, students' behavior changes even more than does teacher behavior,” he said. He added that students are better behaved, pay more attention and support each other in learning more. Furthermore, Finn pointed out that children who were in small classes for three or four years were more likely to graduate high school and take college entrance exams. So these early grades of small classes have long-lasting effects.
Research from the National Center for Biotechnology Information has shown that student-teacher relationships are “protective factors in school adjustment.” Also, a study conducted by the University of Turin found that positive and effective student-teacher relationships may play an important role in students' adaptation to the school environment, favoring both academic achievement and adaptive behaviors.
“Small classes are less hectic because with less students asking questions and needing help, the teacher can get to each student in one class,” said Eddy Batista, a junior at Margarita Muñiz Academy.
Having the opportunity to ask questions and engage encourages students to be productive and get more work done. According to an article posted by international education company Education First, small classes allow students to learn more and learn faster. “This means the class progresses through the course material more quickly. Their learning is enhanced by the confidence students develop to share their opinions and ask and answer questions, which also benefits their peers,” it says.
According to the Student Teacher Achievement Ratio, or STAR, study conducted in the 1980s, when class sizes are reduced, student achievement increases about three additional months of schooling four years later. In other words, when student-teacher ratios decrease, student achievement increases.
It’s clear that class sizes have a major effect on student learning. Smaller classrooms help students to not disturb the class, enable students to have one-on-one conferences with teachers for help, and motivate students to get more work done.
Imagine you’re in a noisy class, with kids yelling and talking too loud. You can’t focus, you get distracted, you can’t ask questions, and the teacher won’t pay attention to you. Then imagine being in a small class—it’s proactive, you have more opportunities, you’re engaged. The teachers can learn about you so they can better teach you. Which one interests you more?