More than a Number: Why Class Size Matters

For a while now, the good folks at NCTE have been fighting the good fight on class size for language arts teachers. This link goes to their policy statement on class size:

More than a Number: Why Class Size Matters.

The recommendation for high school teachers is no more than 20 students per class and no more than a total of 80 students.

It’s amazing to realize how far we are from this right now.

I’ve been a broken record on class size at my school, and our class sizes are a problem my school cannot solve alone. The problem is far bigger than that. The school is only dealing with the funding the district has doled out. The district is only dealing with the funding it gets (and a large portion of that, the state funding, has seen cuts after cuts for several years now). And the state–well the state it doing its best to navigate what it must do to get federal funding. And the feds? Well, I certainly haven’t heard much at all about education lately.

Even so, my administrators are listening. In my district, 155 is the student load limit for high school teachers. Most of my language arts colleagues and I are pretty close to this number. I’m hearing my administrators say they would love to get things lower, in the 140s for LA teachers. That makes a difference and I’m glad to hear them saying that.

But it’s still a far cry from the 80 that NCTE recommends.

When I taught in Illinois, my total student load was normally under 100. I was able to collect a lot of writing and give quality feedback and I was able to engage most of my students in class discussions almost daily. I was able to manage all of this with very little take-home work.

Now? It’s a rare evening or weekend when I don’t have work to do–easily two to several hours.

And I’m constantly seeing how much more I could do if only I had more time. I keep asking people if they could bend the space-time continuum in order to make this happen for me.

Or maybe our policy makers could actually get serious about supporting teachers to do their best possible work.

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