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Crowding felt in classroom

Schools must balance class size, quality


"I think it's better to have a smaller class, but it's not necessarily practical to have a class of 15 students for everyone," said Jeter, who has student-taught classes ranging from 10 students to 35. "I have found there are different challenges for each size class. I do think it's a lot tougher when you get over 30 students because there are so many students with different needs and it's hard to know whether you're getting to them all."

Jeter said that classes with an average of 25 students provide opportunities "to draw on the abilities of all the students in the class and offer more resources because the students can learn from each other by sharing their ideas."

Lina said she thinks that it was beneficial to her that she was in smaller classes in elementary and middle school because she was able to develop a strong foundation academically and get the one-on-one attention she needed.

"I have friends who aren't doing as well in the larger classes" at South Carroll, she said.

Michelle said her largest classes - including her government class, which has nearly 35 students - are often too loud for her to concentrate.

"If it gets distracting, I try to block it out, but that's hard sometimes," she said. "It's not a huge problem, but I think smaller class sizes would help students and make things easier on the teachers, too."

Phillips believes it would be best if the school system apportioned teachers to schools based on enrollment in particular classes as opposed to the schools overall enrollment.

"If I have 42 kids in AP history, do I make one section and hope some kids drop out or do I make two sections of 21 kids?" he said. "While it might be ideal to have two sections of 21 students, it's a real mess to balance it all out. You can end up with small classes here and big classes there."

For instance, he said, if he puts together two sections of 21 students and then several students from both sections drop out, he has two sections with too few students. Similarly, he would be hard-pressed to put more than 40 students in a class with one teacher, especially in one of the more intensive classes.

Kathy Walker, who teaches Michelle's government class at South Carroll, said she remains concerned about larger classes but sees them as a reality that may not soon go away. She said Jeter, who is a student teacher in her class, is getting a realistic picture of the classroom experience.

"How much one-on-one time can I give students?" she said. "In larger classes, there's greater diversity of learning modes. If you have to spend all your time [with slower learners], how are you reaching the others?"


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