MSEA supports smaller class sizes. Reducing class sizes has a positive impact on closing achievement gaps and enhancing safety, discipline, and order in the classroom. Teachers with small classes can spend time and energy helping each child succeed. Simply stated, when qualified teachers teach smaller classes in modern schools, students learn more.
MSEA advocated successfully for legislation that requires the Maryland State Department of Education to determine and report actual class size based on the number of students who regularly participate in a classroom teacher's class, rather than the overall pupil-teacher ratio.
At the national level, NEA is pushing for restoration of the class size reduction program in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Studies show that students in smaller classes, especially minority and low-income students and students with special needs, reap academic benefits through middle and high school. Researchers have documented benefits of class sizes of 15-18 students in kindergarten and fewer than 20 students in grades 1-3.
The Student Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR) study, the first comprehensive study on class size, found that smaller class sizes had lasting, positive effects on student achievement. A recent paper revisiting the STAR study stated that students who were in smaller classes were more likely to attend college.
In 2003, a U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Services guide recommended reducing class sizes in grades K-3.
In the News
Due to shrinking state and national budgets, class sizes are being affected and concerns are mounting. In February 2011, Frederick County residents packed the local board room over concerns about class sizes.
A March 2011 poll of Anne Arundel County parents showed that 60 percent of them were concerned about class sizes. In education polling throughout Maryland, class size frequently tops the concerns of parents and the general public.
In an October 2010 article in the Washington Post column The Answer Sheet, Leonie Haimson laid into the myth that the benefits of class size are unproven and that it’s only important in the early grades.
A March 2011 episode of National Public Radio’s The Diane Rehm Show featured an in-depth discussion of class size with guests including Diane Ravitch, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters; and Kerry Sylvia, a high school teacher in Washington, D.C.
The New York Times blog The Learning Network recently asked students to weigh in with their opinions on class size. You can read their answers on the blog and see how students feel their class size impacts them.