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Old 09-07-2017, 07:33 AM
 
Location: Long Island
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Maybe I should phrase it as how many is too much...

For elementary school, my kids' classrooms now have 27 kids. 4 classes for their grade. 4 elementary schools in the district. This is in a very good school district (the reason we chose here). Last year it started with 22 and then new kids joined. This year they are already starting with 27. I remember 3 years ago the incoming class (us) with 21 per room were told that if a few more kids came into the school, they could open up another classroom - that would've been great but it never happened. Now they don't have the room to do so anymore.

Should this be a concern as far as our kids' education goes? I've seen the zoo-state of the classroom with 25+ kids and 1 teacher when no parents are visiting. How are teachers expected to give any kind of focus on specific weaknesses if they have so many kids? I coach a sport with half that amount of kids so I know what kind of effort it takes to do so. Don't take this the wrong way, but it's more like kid-sitting than teaching the majority of the day if that's the case.

I know city schools have much larger classrooms - but they are also not expected to do as well nor do they pay nearly $10k/year in school taxes alone.
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Old 09-07-2017, 07:56 AM
 
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Going to elementary school with a bunch of other baby-boom kids (1964-1969), my class had about 35-42 students.

But it was mostly the same kids each year, so we knew each other. The teachers had been at the school for a long time (I think our 3rd-grade teacher had been at the school since it was built in 1935), taught most of our older siblings, and knew, and were known by, our parents.
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Old 09-07-2017, 09:39 AM
 
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There are many studies out there that claim to show "class size does not matter" but when you dig into them you do see lots of trends. The studies that are from the US often involve some rather unrealistic school settings -- places that are staffed by universities and in other ways are the "best case scenario" for having EXTREMELY competent teachers AND very dedicated parents. Even in those situation any sane teacher would at least want to have one or two professional aides when class size climbs above twenty or so - for younger kids who might need attention for anything from trips to the lavatory to just an adult presence for reassurance when taking on what likely is very different social setting for kids used to smaller families it is a nightmare to deal with that many kids on your own for even a top notch teacher with tons of experience ...

The sorts of environments that existed decades ago very likely did force more kids into very different behavior patterns -- bigger families who gave each child less direct supervision along with a much less enlightened view of punishment (physical as well as other kinds...) meant kids were accustomed to very different standards of behavior at home that translated into a whole different level of classroom quiet. That probably meant some kids did get more out of the teacher's direct instruction but it also meant that for kids who could be quiet while they day dreamed school was not very effective...

The OP says they are in an area where folks do value the schools and I would use that community support to voice their concerns. While it likely is too late to do anything for this schools year unless there is an unusually large influx of late enrolling students (which happens much more frequently in urban setting than desirable schools where parents tend to plan moves well in advance) the strategy should be to get written guidelines and a plan that includes space and budget contingencies. These sorts of plans often get developed with input from teachers, parents and administration and spell out ALL the definitions / triggers that will monitored. Ideally if there a child that does require an adult for their special needs they WON'T be considered as a generally available aide to a classroom that is "full to capacity" and for grades / classrooms that do get more students than the agreed to capacity there will be a timeline and procedure to ensure that a split happens in a fair and equitable way. These things are tricky as some parents get very worked up over who is the "favorite" teacher for a particular grade, which kids should be together for the best classroom experience, and a whole range of other issues that are hard to agree on...

I have some experience with private schools too and whether it is a budget priced religious type school that exists as an alternative to otherwise miserable public school or some top dollar elite private school there are similar issues. The best prep schools often aim for student-teacher ratios of about 10:1 and while some of the budget minded schools still to cram about 30 kids per classroom. There are trade-offs in every situation and even the most "evidence based" professor at the finest college of education will ultimately say that what matters most is having a happy / satisfied group of kids / teachers / parents.
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Old 09-07-2017, 09:58 AM
 
Location: midwest
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Zero! Classrooms are technologically obsolete.
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Old 09-07-2017, 10:49 AM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
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When I was teaching high school earth science, I always thought 24 was about right.

I remember thinking I had a great blessing one year when I had a class of 12. Until I realized that size (with that particular group of kids) was not enough to get a good classroom discussion going.

As chet pointed out, there are quite a few studies out there showing class size doesn't make much of a difference...up to about 40. Where I disagree with those studies is something that I (at least) have never seen studied. Do large class size result in more teacher burnout. We had the world's greatest English teacher in the school where I was principal. When students would get a writing assignment, she would provide each student with an audio taped feedback. Wow! But I kept saying, "Carol, you can't keep that level of activity up in the long run." "Oh, don't worry. I live for this!" And she did. For 5 years. And then quite teaching forever.
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Old 09-07-2017, 11:57 AM
 
Location: Back in the Mitten. Formerly NC
3,325 posts, read 4,036,749 times
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The fewer, the better. It also varies on age. In elementary, I don't think there should ever be more than 24. 20 or less is actually ideal.

I had 16 one year (2nd grade) and the progress they made was phenomenal. No class had ever made the gains my class made in a single school year (in the whole district of 35 schools in the however many years they had collected data.) At the time, North Carolina had a cap on of 24 students for K-2 classrooms. We had 74 second graders at the beginning of the year, requiring us to have four classrooms. Half of my class was made up of struggling students, and the other half read as a who's-who- teacher's kids, PTA officers' kids, etc... A couple of kids moved away (including the PTA president's son- his dad was transferred), and before Christmas I was down to 16 kids. It was fantastic. I had the time to give each kid individualized attention a couple of times per week, and I could get my struggling students daily. My classroom was a dream that year. And the results showed.

In Michigan, it is rare to have under 30 in a room. 32 is standard for most elementary classrooms. I had 36 my last year teaching. School of choice has schools competing for students, so they pack as many into each class as they can. (One of the many, many reasons I hate school of choice.)

Prior to my year with 16 students, 23 had been my smallest class. While 23 is not bad at all, the difference I could make by removing 7 students was astounding. I really think that long term it could be more cost-effective to have class sizes that small. Fewer students would be retained, fewer would need remedial services, and possibly fewer students would become drains on society as adults (living off the system, possibly in prison, etc..)
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Old 09-07-2017, 12:54 PM
 
Location: Long Island
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Is it possible for a district to institute a cap for classroom size, or even to re-zone schools to balance class sizes? Is that somewhat common?
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Old 09-07-2017, 02:12 PM
 
Location: midwest
1,189 posts, read 766,504 times
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Will Google take over the classroom?

https://shakespearediciones.wordpres...the-classroom/
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Old 09-07-2017, 02:22 PM
 
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
27,919 posts, read 33,568,609 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ovi8 View Post
Is it possible for a district to institute a cap for classroom size, or even to re-zone schools to balance class sizes? Is that somewhat common?
That would depend on the school system but yes, redistricting happens frequently in many school systems with multiple schools for each level. It is, or can be,an incredibly political process.

Anne Arundel County in Maryland has that issue. The system has schools that are way over state mandated levels (115% of capacity in main building) and others that are so empty the halls echo. It's been that way for decades and no one has the will to to do it. That impacts their requests for state funding because the state sees the underutilized schools and asks why the system doesn't redistrict instead of ask for money to expand crowded schools and the money tap doesn't open up.

Classroom caps are embodied in many state education laws and teacher contracts. The problem is that sometimes you have authorization for a certain number of staff members, you do your schedule but the numbers don't work.

By that I mean you have overcrowded Alg I classes but only enough for one more section. Same with English, Bio and Government.

You have enough sections for an additional teacher but you need one who can teach in four different areas. "That guy" is almost impossible to find.

Last edited by North Beach Person; 09-07-2017 at 02:54 PM.. Reason: Clarified location
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Old 09-07-2017, 02:52 PM
 
4,281 posts, read 3,803,727 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by North Beach Person View Post

Anne Arundel County has that issue. The system has schools that are way over state mandated levels (115% of capacity in main building) and others that are so empty the halls echo. It's been that way for decades and no one has the will to to do it. That impacts their requests for state funding because the state sees the underutilized schools and asks why the system doesn't redistrict instead of ask for money to expand crowded schools and the money tap doesn't open up.

That's the system that my 40-student elementary school classes were in.

Ferndale Elementary
Corkran Jr. High (7th grade)
Linthicum-Ferndale Jr. High (8th grade - split session with Andover Sr. High in Andover building)
Lindale Jr. High (9th grade - Note the clever combination of Linthicum and Ferndale. This was a new school.)
Andover Sr. High (10th-12th grade)
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