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View Diary: Scapegoating Teachers? (78 comments)

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  •  If memory serves of the research (6+ / 0-)

    it has shown that classroom size is one of the greatest influences on student success. 15-20 students = optimum size while 25 is about maximum size with diminishing returns as numbers trend upwards toward 35. By the time one teacher is dealing with 40-45 students, the teacher is no longer a teacher but more of a traffic cop just trying to maintain order and complete the necessary paperwork before the next wave of students hit the door in 55 minutes.
    (for a teacher with 6 classes, the difference between extremes is 90 students daily compared to 270 students daily but so many commentators seem unable to grasp the difference numbers make.  

    •  Very dependent on grade level (0+ / 0-)

      For elementary school, yes, keeping class size below 20 is very important. But the higher you go the bigger the class size can be, mostly because the responsibility for learning shifts from the teacher to the student.

    •  It is huge (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, Dirtandiron

      Unless each student presents no challenges, so that they can be taught as a group. That never happens. And the "difficult" kids suck up a lot of attention.

      •  Research shows it is not huge. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JanL, Dirtandiron

        High quality studies seem inconclusive on the subject.  If you also include international comparisons, class size becomes even less of a factor.

        It reminds of the National Counsel of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) recommendation to use calculators with the youngest students.  NCTM says their recommendation is research-based.  For many years I asked them to compile a list of the research and post it on their website.  Finally, I undertook to collect every bit of the research and wrote a massive review of the literature. The research does not support the calculator recommendation.  The best the research says is that calculator use under the guidance of a skilled math teacher may do no harm, but there is no resounding positive effect.

        "Skilled math teacher," a phrase found in the NCTM's recommendation, is a huge caveat.  As I and many others have documented, math is a serious weakness of many elementary teachers.  Routinely, 70% of students taking "Math for Elementary Teachers" report they are uncomfortable with fractions.  I won't pass a teacher candidate who does not master fractions.  I get a lot of criticism for my policy, but the colleges of education, as the country's teacher trainers, have the responsibility (tautology alert) to train teachers.  

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