Sunday, September 18, 2016

IT IS TIME TO STOP PRETENDING THAT CLASS SIZE DOES NOT MATTER

This past spring, when hundreds of parents from dozens of schools across this province stood up for education by participating in rallies, letter writing campaigns and social media campaigns, they were told by government that the jury was out on the benefits of smaller class room sizes.

I and other engaged parents have argued that smaller classes offer increased time on tasks, more student engagement, better ability for teachers to focus on the needs of students, resulted in more creativity, there are less disruptions and allowed for more interaction - just to name a few. 

A review of major research  on class size by Northwestern University Associate Professor Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach and published by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado makes clear that class size matters, and it matters a lot. 

The Washington Post reproduced the following recommendations:

*Class size is an important determinant of student outcomes, and one that can be directly determined by policy. All else being equal, increasing class sizes will harm student outcomes.
* The evidence suggests that increasing class size will harm not only children’s test scores in the short run, but also their long-run human capital formation. Money saved today by increasing class sizes will result in more substantial social and educational costs in the future.
* The payoff from class-size reduction is greater for low-income and minority children, while any increases in class size will likely be most harmful to these populations.
* Policymakers should carefully weigh the efficacy of class-size policy against other potential uses of funds. While lower class size has a demonstrable cost, it may prove the more cost-effective policy overall.
Reducing Class Size: What Do We Know?  by the Canadian Education Association confirms a growing body of expertise that shows that smaller classes do make a difference. 
For years the provincial Department of Education adopted the belief that smaller classes resulted in better outcomes. They reduced class sizes! 
At what point are we going to stop compromising our children's futures in the name of trimming costs which result in less teachers, less opportunities for our children and poorer outcomes. 
Government should be placing placing a greater emphasis on the needs-based side of the equation.

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