So...what could possible be wrong with small class sizes?
Well - according to Eva Moskowitz, founder and leader of Success Charter Network in NYC, - a lot. In an interview with Talk of the Nation she argues that the decision to keep class sizes low comes at the expense of other positive benefits. Specifically, Moskowitz thinks that paying for more teachers results in fewer students supplies, professional development, field trips, and technology which can cause lower academic achievement.
I guess she a has a point. But in my experience, there has never been a positive result from the decision to allow larger class sizes. It's always been more students per class AND fewer field trips AND less money for supplies and technology. I'd gladly have a couple more students per class if it meant that they could all have a laptop or iPad, but in reality that is not how it pans out.
In the past, I was in a situation where (due to budget cuts and lay-offs) one grade had only 10 teachers while the other two grades in the building had 15 teachers leading to vastly different class sizes. (Sometimes 30 vs. 9) And let me tell you - that created some tension. I also think that Moskowitz overlooks some key negatives of larger class sizes:
- Paperwork Load (general grading, filling out individual assessments, grade reports, IEPs, report card comments, copying, preparation of supplies, reading records, etc...)
- Parents to Contact (answering e-mails, notes and phone calls promptly...)
- Meetings & Conferences (individual writing conferences with students, IEP meetings, parent conferences, intervention meetings, etc...)
So how are your class sizes this year? And how has class size influenced the success of your students?