Wednesday, June 17, 2015

North Carolina and reduced class sizes: Is it worth the cost?

The North Carolina Senate, in their budget plan, has proposed to lower class sizes in grades K-3 by adding teachers. Part of the funding for these new teachers will come from money used for hiring teacher assistants. If you want to have an informed opinion about this subject, I suggest reading "Does class size matter? Research reveals surprises" by John Higgins of the Seattle Times.
Higgins points out several issues that come with simply reducing class size. These issues need to be considered before taking away teacher assistant positions in the name of reduced class sizes.

Questions to ask:
1. What research says simply reducing class size will greatly improve student achievement? Can all schools with reduced class sizes expect a bump in growth or do other programs have to be implemented? Is the achievement growth in Tennessee and Wisconsin due to reduced class size or is it another variable?
2. Do we have the physical space to place over 6,000 new teachers? Who bears the cost if we don't?
3. Will the class sizes remain or will we revert back to numbers over 20 when the next fiscal crisis comes our way?

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