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Small Class Size, Big Opportunities

Updated: Apr 14


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"Much of what we know about class sizes comes from an experiment called Project STAR (also known as the Tennessee Study). From 1985 to 1989 11,600 Tennessee students from kindergarten to third grade were randomly assigned to three class-size categories. The three class sizes were 13–17 students, 22–25 students and over 25 students.


The results were strong. An average student assigned to the smallest classes had a reading score nearly 8 percent higher than students in the medium-sized classes. The smaller-class students, on average, achieved 9 percent higher math scores.


Students in smaller classes who completed high school were more likely to take college-entrance exams than students assigned to medium or large classes. The effects are even stronger for minority and less affluent students."

Quote from article in Goldman School of Public Policy, The Class Size Debate: What the Evidence Means for Education Public Policy, by Darian Woods


For one year, many moons and many years ago, I taught in a class with 30 students seated wall to wall in a room 30x30 with no windows. It was not a good experience.


My other forty plus years in education were spent teaching or managing schools with an average of 17 students per class or less. No matter what any researchers say, positive or negative about class size, fewer students in a class is something that has to be experienced.


What I am trying to say is you can look at statistics all day and night, but the experience a child (and his family) take away from a small class size, especially when coupled with a great or even a good teacher is no contest.


In a small class, I have the opportunity to know my students educationally. Why is that important? Because each of those young images of God are very unique in what is understood and not understood about the world they live in.


This individual understanding of each student by a teacher cannot be experienced from the front of a class giving a lecture, pushing students towards a daily common goal, whether the class is ready or not.


No, the optimal time for learning is when the teacher is able to watch a student complete a problem or read a passage. And from the student's performance and knowledge of his previous work with the teacher, discover the present progress towards his goals and his future needs.


Those individual instructional opportunities have unique moments for a student's wondering questions. Like, "Is the moon real?" or "Do dragons really exist?"


Smaller groups of students allow for a lot more individual and specific encouragement when the moment happens instead of later on.


Training a child to be respectful, loving and unique is a lot, lot easier when the good and bad of a day can be addressed when it happens and by their teacher's observations instead of through another teacher or student.


I, as a teacher of students in a small class of twenty or less students, also has a better attitude towards my craft, my students and the day.


Maricopa Christian Academy has small class sizes to better serve our students, families and God. There is no comparison in my forty-two years of experience.



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