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That’s What She Said: Smaller Class Sizes are the Way to Go!

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Emma and Margaux debate the controversial issue of class size in public schools.

Emma and Margaux debate the controversial issue of class size in public schools.

M. Putnam

M. Putnam

Emma and Margaux debate the controversial issue of class size in public schools.

Emma Mills, Staff Reporter

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Chaotic and ineffective, classrooms with large amounts of students may seem like the norm in classes here at Millbrook today, so what is the purpose to increasing class sizes anyways? Many teachers and students alike agree that humongous classes are doing more harm than good in schools across the nation. According to education professors from the University of California Berkeley, a nationwide survey of over 50,000 citizens found that the majority of the subjects agreed that reducing class sizes was the best way to reform American public schools. Small class sizes are overall more beneficial to a student’s learning profile because of increased participation in discussion, higher academic achievement outcomes, and decreased disciplinary problems.

 Without the fear of speaking in a large group of peers, many students feel more compelled to participate in discussions during class when there are smaller numbers of students present. Additionally, there is simply more opportunity for a greater number of students to speak. Classroom discussion is widely viewed amongst teachers as one of the most effective pedagogical methods. Tripp Kurtz, a junior at Millbrook, said, “Discussion allows others to learn from different perspectives.” When students are allowed the freedom to express their unique opinions, all students can benefit.

 Undoubtedly, a smaller student-to-teacher ratio means higher student performance. Project STAR, or Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio, was a four-year-long study conducted in Tennessee that studied 11,600 students aged between kindergarten and the third grade that supported this idea. Students were divided into classes that fell into three categories: small (thirteen to seventeen students), medium (twenty-two to twenty-five students), and large (twenty-five or more students). The results were strongly in favor of reducing class sizes nationwide. An average student enrolled in the smallest classes had a reading score of about 8 percent higher than students enrolled in the the medium-sized classes. In math, students in smaller classes, on average, achieved 9 percent higher scores. Evaluators attributed these impressive results to increased participation and engagement from students and more personalized attention from teachers.

 Millbrook is unique because with over 2,300 students, classes tend to get quite large. However, within the International Baccalaureate Programme, students enrolled in this curriculum have, on average, approximately twenty kids in their classes. Simon Keane, an IB student and senior at Millbrook, stated, “Smaller class sizes are better than larger class sizes because in smaller classes teachers have the ability to work with students more effectively and efficiently.” Smaller classes provide an intimate relationship between pupils and teachers that cannot be rivaled in large classes. These open communications between teachers and students lead to a significant decrease in disciplinary issues, also referenced in the aforementioned Project STAR study.

 Some people argue that large classes allow for independence, as students must take their education into their own hands when there are too many students in the class for the teacher to handle. However, without guidance from the teacher, many students find themselves idle and lacking the motivation to pursue learning beyond what is provided. This issue becomes irrelevant with smaller class sizes, as teachers are able to more easily and efficiently cater to each student’s individual academic needs.

 Overall, it is indisputable that student and teachers alike benefit from reductions to number of students in classes. To better our education system in America, smaller class sizes are the ideal solution because they allow for students to be more engaged in the class discussions, perform significantly better academically, and form relationships with teachers to decrease discipline problems and support each student’s individual learning style.

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Emma Mills, Staff Reporter

Hey there Cat Talk readers! I'm Emma Mills, and I'm a sophomore here at Millbrook. Beyond newspaper, I do a lot with the school. You can find me at almost...

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That’s What She Said: Smaller Class Sizes are the Way to Go!