Smaller classes do make a difference
October 23, 2011
Please accept my response to Joyce Rankin’s recent editorial in the Post Independent against the mill levy override 3E. Ms. Rankin’s statement that smaller class sizes do not lead to improved student performance is completely off-base.
As a former educator with a master’s degree in education, Ms. Rankin should be aware of several well- known national studies that demonstrate, to the contrary, that smaller class sizes do in fact lead to higher student achievement.
These national studies, such as the Tennessee Project STAR and Wisconsin’s SAGE, also found that the impact of small class size on achievement was particularly strong for children of minority and lower income families, and that this impact on their achievement was forward reaching. Certainly these findings are relevant to the student population of the Re-1 School District, something Ms. Rankin clearly overlooked. Having well-qualified teachers, these studies concluded, is also integral to students’ success.
In addition to the impact on student achievement, small student/teacher ratios have other positive impacts on our students as well. For example, smaller student/teacher ratios allow our high schools to provide a wider variety of course offerings, including Advanced Placement and college-level courses, which they would not otherwise be able to offer. Smaller student/teacher ratios also enable teachers to provide richer learning experiences, such as hands-on science projects (which are difficult to undertake in overcrowded classrooms). In addition, maintaining a small class size enhances teachers’ ability to develop a strong, trusting relationship with each child. Such personal relationships are invaluable, as we want our teachers to know what each individual child is passionate about and what each child’s needs are.
Knowing that class size reduction, when combined with strong teacher quality, has been proven to lead to higher achievement, I strongly urge you to vote for the mill levy to preserve the strong teachers we currently have at Re-1, attract new strong teachers to the district and keep classroom size as small as possible.
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