Concern Over Large Class Sizes


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Q: Is it worth putting my child in a private elementary school so that the class sizes are smaller? My son's third-grade class in our public school will have 30 students next year.

- Need to Know

A: Before choosing a private school, make sure there is a significant difference in the size of the class. Research tends to show that reducing class size from 35 to 25 doesn't show significant gains in student achievement. Class size must get below 20 in order to make a real difference.

In recent years, several states have reduced class size, especially in the primary grades.  Young children in kindergarten through third-grade classes with fewer than 20 students have higher reading levels compared to students in the same grades who have 25 or more in their classes. Additional studies also found that this holds true up through eighth grade when class sizes are smaller.

The atmosphere in smaller classes is usually friendlier. Students have more opportunity to speak in class, and there are fewer students to distract each other. Plus, each student is able to receive a larger portion of the teacher's instructional time.

Teachers like teaching smaller classes. They enjoy an increased flexibility in using different instructional approaches and assignments. And they can devote a larger amount of time to working with each of their student's parents.

Parents should send questions and comments to dearteacher@dearteacher.com or visit www.dearteacher.com.

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