Emily P. Michigan

Class Sizes

Class sizes are getting too big, and are hurting student's education. The students aren't able to concentrate or get enough time with their teacher with the big classes.

Dear Next President,

My name is Emily, and I am a junior at Avondale High School in Michigan. I wanted to share some ideas I had about schools and the large class sizes that make up them. At Avondale High School class sizes are the largest I have ever seen. For example in my first four periods of the day, I have 28 or more students in my classes. I think these large classes are a problem, because it is ultimately hurting the students’ education.

Larger classes can lead to many problems for students. You probably have heard this many times, but I wanted you to hear it from an actual student. Large classes can be difficult especially when the class material is hard to understand. For example, in my AP calculus class, limits are very confusing, but having 30 other confused students makes the concept 30 times harder. According to an article by Jill Jenkins, a teacher who works in this type of situation everyday, large classes causes many disadvantages to the students. She argues, “It can reduce the material the teacher can spend working with each individual student and it can reduce the material the teacher can cover” (Jankins). I agree with Jankins’s idea of large classes being a disadvantage. Since there are so many students, the teacher doesn't get to directly help all of her students. If you think about it, there is one teacher, 30 students, and 60 minutes per class period, so the teacher only has two minutes to speak with each student. Do you think that is enough time to learn a whole lesson, especially at a high school or AP level? As a student I can tell you that it is not. You were a student at one time, and I am sure you would not want to learn a lesson with 30 other students in the class.

Part of the reason that class sizes are so large is because schools have less teachers. Because of the small budget dedicated to schools, schools aren't able to afford the amount of teachers they need. Amanda Litvinov, a writer for National Education Association, wrote “State and district level budget cuts that led to teacher layoffs have resulted in larger class sizes for some, including Melissa Hagen of Phoenix. Last year her junior high science classes ranged from 22 to 30 students per class, but after losing two colleagues, the count shot up to 38 to 41 per class” (Litvinov). Without any money, school districts have to do a lot of layoffs which causes the student to teacher ratio to increase a lot. These sizes are unfair to the teachers that are working because they take on more students, but don't get any more money. More money should be allocated to schools so there can be more teachers with less students per class.

Class sizes are also influencing test scores in a negative way. Grover Whitehurst and Matthew Chingos did a study on different class sizes, and it showed that the test scores in small classes and large classes differed. They claim "The most influential and credible study of CSR (class-size reduction) is the Student Teacher Achievement Ratio, or STAR, study which was conducted in Tennessee during the late 1980s. In this study, students and teachers were randomly assigned to a small class, with an average of 15 students, or a regular class, with an average of 22 students. This large reduction in class size (7 students, or 32 percent) was found to increase student achievement by an amount equivalent to about 3 additional months of schooling four years later" (Whitehurst and Chimgos). Although this study is older, large class sizes are still impacting students today. According to the results, kids with large class sizes are going to fall behind. If only 7 kids can change the test scores by that much, then it would be a huge benefit for schools to lower class sizes. If schools want what is best for their students, then they should definitely lower class sizes.

Some people believe that the success rate in large classes depends on the student and what type of environment they need to work in. According to the article, When It Comes To Class Size, Smaller Isn't Always Better, class sizes should be bigger for some students. The author, Andrew Rotherham, writes that, “It's important to go small for some students, much smaller than we do today, but fine to actually go larger for others. School districts should also consider ways to innovate with technology, different schedules, and different classroom configurations” (Rotherham). I believe Rotherham is right about the fact that some students can work in large groups. However it would be much simpler to just lower class sizes, because it would ultimately fix learning difficulties for almost all the students in the classes. Large class sizes may work for some people, but the majority of students need smaller class sizes to excel in a class.

What do I want you to do about this? I want you, Mr. or Mrs. President, to solve this problem. I want you to suggest to Congress that they make a new law that says classes sizes should be limited to 25 students or less. I also want you to allocate more money to schools, so they can hire more teachers. Fixing this problem is not just going to help me, not just my school, not even just my state; it will help all of our country, the country that you represent. The country will not always be in your hands and if you want it to continue to be great then we need to solve the problem now, so that our country's next generations can be just as strong. I hope that you consider solving this issue.

Sincerely,

Emily