If you talk to any teacher, they will tell you that class size matters. The question is why? Why does class size matter so much? When I started writing this blog I was a strong believer that class size has a direct impact on student achievement. What I found hard to swallow was that all the research I read stated that there was little to no direct correlation between class size and student achievement. However, almost every piece of research I read did have one thing in common: Student achievement is dependent upon multiple factors within the classroom and class size is only a small piece.
As a teacher, I disagree with the research that I read, but as a learner, I find the results of the research interesting. There is a significant difference between teaching a classroom of 24-28 students and teaching a classroom of 30-35 students. There is a noticeable difference in a classroom’s atmosphere with fewer students. It is easier for a teacher to respond to students’ needs in a classroom and to provide a personalized education to their students with a smaller classroom size. Ultimately, a classroom with fewer students means more direct interaction with their teacher, in turn, creating an environment that serves all students.
But did you notice what changed with a classroom of fewer students? The teacher’s interactions with the students changed. In a classroom with a smaller class size, a teacher is able to give more attention to their students and provide a more personalized learning environment. This is why class sizes matter. Does it impact student achievement? Maybe, maybe not, but what small class sizes do is creates a learning environment that is student centered and student focused. There are other benefits to smaller class sizes as well; fewer behavior problems, fewer distractions, better classroom community, more room in classrooms, and much more.
The bottom line is that smaller class sizes benefit students overall. It provides a better learning environment and allows teachers to provide a personalized education for each student. As a teacher, I want smaller class sizes so I can provide my students with the best, most personalized education I can. It is not fair for students when their classroom is so full that they get pushed out, forgotten, or not considered important. The reality is, with the push to help low performing students and differentiating for students on Individual Education Plans (IEPs) or 504s (Education plans designed for students who do not qualify for an IEP), large class sizes means some students will not be considered, and that is not good. EVERY student should be considered, but in all honesty, large class sizes do not make that a reality.
We need to push for the best education for all students, and one way we can start is by decreasing class sizes to give students the attention and support they need and deserve. In the long run, education is not about test scores. Education is about providing a learning environment that is student centered, supports students passions and needs, and inspires students to be their best selves.