Class sizes in almost every room in every school district is on the rise. The main reason for this is the lack of funding which would enable the school to hire more teachers. Governments seem to be financing public education less and less every year. Instead of keeping down the number of students in every classroom, schools are increasing the amount of students to a questionable total. What is considered too many students in a classroom? The simple answer is when it affects each child’s learning.
In primary education, students are learning brand new concepts for the first time. They are introduced to Reading, Mathematics, and Writing. All subjects that will need some one-on-one instruction with immediate feedback. Each student will need individual attention at some point in class. Usually school districts try to keep the numbers as low as possible in the primary level because of this.
A primary student would have a tough time learning all these new skills in a classroom of thirty or more. Their attention spans are extremely short in this age range, so one teacher trying to instruct 30 or more 5-8 year olds could turn into chaos. Perhaps with an active teacher’s assistant in the classroom as well, more individual attention could be provided between the two adults.
Intermediate grades are generally grades 3 through 5. The age level for these students are 8-11 years old. Their attention span and focus are a bit better than at the primary level. They can also work on their own a bit more without the constant need for individual attention. However, they will still need one-on-one instruction for some concepts.
They will begin writing full paragraphs and essays for the first time during these grades. Larger multi-digit multiplication and division problems will be encountered frequently during this time, along with other new math content. Textbooks are usually handed out for the first time in Social Studies and Science. Having a class of 30 or more would definitely be a challenge in this setting.
By the time a student reaches 6th, 7th, or 8th grade, they are able to work and study a bit more independently. More than likely, they will have quite a bit of experience using technology as well. The teacher might have an easier time with a class of 30 or more students in the junior high setting. However, the kids will also be experiencing adolescent changes, so the sweet little children that would do anything to please the teacher in second grade might not be so willing in this new setting.
High School Years
Students in high school are basically considered young adults. They will have ten years of schooling under their belt by then. This will be a time of firsts for most of them. They will be driving alone in a car for the first time. Many will be going to dances and have their first boyfriend or girlfriend.
In the classroom, they will generally have a greater number of students. Most students will not have a problem with this. They are able to focus and work independently without the need for assistance for quite a bit of their high school career. They will still need one-on-one help every now and then, but not nearly as much as when they were in elementary school.
Guidance is being provided by several teachers during their high school years. Thirty students or more in a classroom can still be a bit hectic, especially if there are behavior problems, but most students will be able to persevere.
What Do You Think?
In a perfect world, ideally there would never be a classroom with 30 or more students. But this world is far from perfect. Funding provided to schools seems to be shrinking year by year. What are the alternatives to a larger class size? What type of solution is there to the problem where there is just not enough money in the budget to hire more teachers? Do you pick and choose the grade levels that might be able to withstand 30 or more students without it greatly affecting their learning? Do you determine which subject areas can have a larger class size and still function properly? These are all questions to ask parents and teachers in every school district. More than likely, funding is going to keep on being reduced, so we must be proactive in coming up with an answer.