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Sun May 5, 2013, 01:41 AM

Does Class Size Count?

Diverse figures including Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York and Bill Gates have coalesced around a new idea: why not increase class sizes for the best teachers and use the resulting budgetary savings to pay these best teachers more and to help train educators who need improvement? Yes, each class might be bigger on average but at least each child would stand a better chance of having a great teacher, which would-be reformers say is more important. . .

So hereís a proposal for getting past this familiar stalemate: Secretary Duncan, Mayor Bloomberg and Mr. Gates and other teacher-quality advocates should agree to fight ó hard ó to keep class sizes small for a limited population of at-risk students. That way economically disadvantaged and minority-group students, who Project STAR undeniably proved can benefit most from low student-to-teacher ratios, wonít have to suffer through larger classes while waiting for better teachers.

In return, advocates of reducing class size agree to support pilot programs for creating more-students-for-more-pay classrooms to see if the plan has any takers among everyday teachers and parents and whether this theory actually works and is cost-effective in the real world.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/04/does-class-size-count/?hp



18 replies, 4241 views

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Arrow 18 replies Author Time Post
Reply Does Class Size Count? (Original post)
elleng May 2013 OP
Starry Messenger May 2013 #1
WovenGems Jun 2013 #18
grilled onions May 2013 #2
forest4qt May 2013 #3
AdHocSolver May 2013 #4
dipsydoodle May 2013 #5
d_r May 2013 #6
savebigbird May 2013 #7
elleng May 2013 #9
savebigbird May 2013 #10
mbperrin May 2013 #8
LWolf May 2013 #11
Nevernose May 2013 #12
sulphurdunn May 2013 #13
elleng May 2013 #14
HiPointDem May 2013 #16
sulphurdunn May 2013 #17
Reader Rabbit May 2013 #15

Response to elleng (Original post)

Sun May 5, 2013, 01:58 AM

1. If we expand the class sizes of all those great teachers I can flat guarantee they won't be great

in a few years. I have 35 kids per class, and I know I could do better with smaller class sizes. I'm a popular teacher and my classes get filled quickly and my kids learn a lot. But my burn-out is accelerating and I can't go beyond a certain place, because of the sheer amount of policing I have to do in the room.

There is enough obscene wealth in this country congealing in the hoards of the 1% to make every school and excellent school and keep classes smaller.

Education Next, cited in that article, is a far-right think-tank, the education branch of the Hoover Institution. This article is full of contradictions.

"The proposal is intriguing, and some teachers may be on board. Matthew Chingos, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, has cited a national survey by the journal Education Next and Harvardís Program on Education Policy and Governance that found that 42 percent of teachers would gladly accept a $10,000 raise to forgo a three-student reduction in class size. Yet perhaps more striking, 47 percent of teachers said they would turn down this substantial pay increase to have just three students fewer in class. Itís unclear if the teachers who want the extra money are the same ones schools hope to retain and reward. But the bigger problem is that class size is already increasing while there still isnít a mechanism to identify top-flight teachers and offer them more students for more pay; nor is there any assurance that parents, given a choice, would embrace these larger classes for their children."

Wealthy parents put their kids into schools with incredibly small class sizes. This debate is bogus.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #1)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 02:59 PM

18. Indeed

My first thought was the pay and mission are disconnected thus the idea would burn out our good teachers.

Teaching is a royal pain for this reason, we don't sort the kids. So a class of thirty will have a ratio something like this.
For 10 kids the class moves too fast
for 18 it moves at the right pace
and 2 kids read once and know forever and those are bored no matter what you do. These are the kids who bring novels to class.
It one tough job to keep all these types in synch.

My hats off to you.

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Sun May 5, 2013, 02:06 AM

2. It Depends

In the fifties many schools had discipline strong enough that students did their homework when a teacher was working with another student. Between home and school kids knew they better behave or else. This allowed the teacher to teach more and babysit less. Today many classrooms are full of high maintenance students and if a couple are regular trouble makers much of a teachers lessons for the day could be ruined for all.
We also did not have complex issues like guns showing up in school,students very behind because they live in shelters,language issues,pressures from higher authority that fret over test scores and not students learning. In some schools unusual text books are showing up with rather twisted history or the elimination of many topics of science. This sort of facts vs fiction could start a heated discussion between students and or teacher making the teachers job more of a referee then an educator.

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Sun May 5, 2013, 02:28 AM

3. not teachers

Arne Duncan, Mayor Bloomberg, Bill Gates are not teachers so no class size doesn't matter to them. Few teachers agree that class size does not matter. Even a fantastic teacher has only so many moments in a day to use and divide their attention among so many students.

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Sun May 5, 2013, 03:18 AM

4. Arne Duncan, Mayor Bloomberg, and Bill Gates should stick to their area of expertise.

Designing a space rocket to travel to Mars.

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Sun May 5, 2013, 05:27 AM

5. Maybe get your priorities right

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Sun May 5, 2013, 06:54 AM

6. these "reformers"

always reject project star.

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Sun May 5, 2013, 08:12 AM

7. Does class size matter?

Yessssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.


I SERIOUSLY CAN'T BELIEVE WE'RE STILL DEBATING THIS IN 2013. Seriously!

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Response to savebigbird (Reply #7)

Sun May 5, 2013, 03:45 PM

9. Ditto.

Had to share the article so DUers would be able to share MY amazement.

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Response to elleng (Reply #9)

Sun May 5, 2013, 05:25 PM

10. Yeah, nothing against you...

...I just can't believe people are still debating this. Can't. Believe. It.

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Sun May 5, 2013, 12:24 PM

8. Here's the single question I always ask people of the class size doesn't matter side:

Why do we send students to one on one tutoring for remediation if class size doesn't matter?

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Sun May 5, 2013, 06:38 PM

11. Yes.

Class size counts.

Every extra desk and body in the room means less space and less time to connect with students in small groups and one-on-one to give them the customized attention they need.

Arne Duncan, Bloomberg, Bill Gates, and the rest of their ilk, none of whom ever actually taught in a classroom, can kiss my ass.

There are so many factors that affect learning. Just the simple space issue is always ignored. It's not like, when class sizes rise, we suddenly get bigger rooms. Our rooms just get more crowded.

In those crowded rooms, those who struggle with tuning out distractions long enough to focus on learning are on the ropes. Those of us who have spent time managing classrooms know that students are better able to focus and use time productively if they have some personal space. That's why we put those with the biggest issues at the corners, at the ends, and next to empty space whenever we can. Of course, overcrowding the classroom severely restricts our ability to do this, and makes it much more difficult to create a productive working environment.

Mathematically speaking, the more students in the room, the fewer I'm going to be able to offer one-on-one time or small group time with each day, and the shorter and shorter that time will get. That affects learning.

This bullshit starts with the premise that students are "waiting for better teachers." While there are weaker teachers and stronger teachers, in my 30 years in public education, the number of weak teachers I've worked with in 2 states, different districts, large and small schools, have been a very small fraction of the whole. I, along with every other teacher I've ever worked with, am all for improving ALL teacher's practice. That said, teachers aren't the problem with public education. Deformers like Duncan, Gates, Bloomberg, Broad, Rhee, and others are.

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Wed May 8, 2013, 01:18 AM

12. Bill Gates quote: Over 25 students in a class, and the statistics break down

"Class size doesn't matter, studies show this, unless there are more than twenty-five or thirty students in a class; then the numbers begin to break down." Sorry, no source; I heard him say it on NPR.

So even the ed reformers know that coming to an English class, freshmen, with 54 students (have of whom are ELL) is essentially pointless. To them, "class size doesn't matter" means twenty kids instead of the optimal fifteen.

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Thu May 16, 2013, 09:11 PM

13. Class size doesn't matter

 

except in exclusive private schools where the reform aristocracy send their own kids. There it's quite small. There, teachers are not evaluated on standardized test scores since they are rarely given. Our exclusive private school for rich kids system is very much like the public school systems in Finland and other advanced, civilized societies.

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Response to sulphurdunn (Reply #13)

Thu May 16, 2013, 09:13 PM

14. Thanks.

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Response to sulphurdunn (Reply #13)

Sun May 26, 2013, 05:21 AM

16. that's why bill gates sends his kids to a school with an average of 15 per class, just like the

 

one he himself attended.

what they mean is class size doesn't matter for other people's kids, because they don't need a real education to be disposable cogs in the oligarch's machine.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #16)

Sun May 26, 2013, 11:19 AM

17. He went to Lakeside School.

 

I hear it's a great place if you have the connections and money to get in. Tuition is $27K a year. I agree with Gates. We need to reform education in this country, but I think we have the cart before the course. We should start by imposing the same accountability model on Ivy League pipelines like Lakeside that Bill thinks are appropriate for peasants. We could also spend $27K annually on public school kids and switch to the same elite educational model used at Lakeside rather than the school to prison pipeline Bill champions. If the vulture philanthropists had to pay to make public schools into Lakeside school rather than for profit boot camps, we might find them losing their enthusiasm for reform.

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Sat May 18, 2013, 10:34 AM

15. Does the pope shit in the woods?

Who are these people and what rock have they been living under?

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