Class size is the number of students taught in the same classroom specifically by one teacher. The issues of class size have become controversial in USA education system with different people different view that is focused on decreasing class size (Biddle et al. pp86-95). The correlation between the class size and the performance has been used to support the issue of class size whereas some people have remained staunch and supportive of the tradition class sizes. Teaching a large class poses many challenges which have led to making the traditional class size to be perceived as a less effective system. The 20th-century philosophers have proposed the idea of small classes to be more convenient and promote student-teacher involvement. Am also supporting the idea of small classes due to the improved performance per student, personalizes instruction and the efficient in managing the class.
In the USA many rules have been formulated to cap individual class size. At least 38 states had adopted these rules by 2008 whereas some of the states remained reluctant to the requirements. The steward referendum in 2002 enabled Florida to cap the class size. Washington legislative reforms have also pledged to reduce the size of the classroom. Most of the researchers supporting reduced classes are linked to better, however, when the operational cost is considered, the traditional class size outweighs. The SAGE program (student achievement guarantee in education) which was carried out in 1996 around Milwaukee had mixed reactions on the size of the classroom (Hoxby at al. pp 1239-1285). SAGE was conducted with the aim to compact poverty and it reflected that some of the large classes in poor states had two teachers in the same classroom and this contributed to poor performance.
A project was conducted in Tennessee in 1989 in order to determine the student teachers achievement ratio. The study involved random sampling of over 12,000 students and around 1200 teachers (Finn et al. pp 97-109). The results of the study motivated some states like Wisconsin and California to adopt the reduced size project in 1996. Man researcher suggested that the teachers give more individualized instructions to smaller classes as compared to many traditional large classes. There was an argument that in large class the students have the probability to hide at the back of the classroom, giggle and talk as the little one keeps on throwing papers to each other. Over past decades, however, many states have adopted the system of large class due to this social-economic nature.
The class size reduction (CSR) has forced the states to rethink on the high cost of maintaining these small class due to the current fiscal environment. Large classes have the advantage of reduced teacher’s salary. An increase in the student-teacher ratio is estimated to save around $12 billion in teacher salary per year. This is equal to the title 1 of the elementary and secondary education(Finn et al. pp 97-109). CSR will also call for the reconstruction of more rooms and which may have an effect on land as a resource. For example, if the USA decides to reduce the size of class by 1 students, then the government will be forced to build 225,000 more classrooms. The only evidence that is supporting the substantial expenditure associated with the small class is the increased students learning. Despite many views about class size in relationship to the student performance, only a few studies of high quality and sufficient evidence are given credence in legislative actions. A large class is effective in circumstances where the economy is generally poor, probably in the poor states.
The most controversial idea of the class size touch on the political, social and economic aspect of life. One of the thing that triggers the class size is the performance, students’ teacher’s ration, the cost of running the system and some extent the age of the students. In a smaller class, let say, 20 students, inattentive student and those who try not to look into the teacher’s eyes are forced to remain attentive and keen to the teacher since they have to do so. In a large class, you will find most of the disruptive students hiding at the back and corners. These disruptive students reflect a poor performance in their academics than the other students. The idea of the small class takes care of this disruptive behavior. This is because the students take control of their behavior since the teacher can easily identify them (Blatchford et al. pp 779-790).
Studies that have been conducted in other countries like Israel and Texas reflected a lower scale in performance associated with small classes than the study conducted in Tennessee. However, the ideas of the reduced class have made it hard for the policymakers to effectively apply this idea across all states in the USA. This is because a policymaker is determined to reduce the budget and maintain other investments in education. Some policymaker has proposed the idea of CSR to be applicable to students have shown a remarkable performance while those disadvantages should remain to the local school (shin et al. pp 3). Many districts and states are cutting off their funding making it hard for the school to make choices. This is a debate that is focusing on the effect of reduced student-teacher ratio on the side of the coin. There is a potential negative effect of CSR which may call for cutting off another program in order to maintain small classes.
Large classes encourage students disengagement and the students feel alienated. This erodes the sense of responsibility among the students. Some of the teachers may also feel demotivated especially when it comes to maintaining the order of the class and identifying the weaker students (Hoxby at al. pp 1239-1285). This aspect has made the policy of large classes to be ineffective especially in present times when the private schools have risen challenging the public schools. There is also the political issue of the ethnic-racial in relationship to the class size and performance. Student-teacher ratio reflects no difference between the black and the white. However, the black has large classes.
Unlike the large classes, CRS was forced on the solution of size, fit for all strategy through the personalized teaching. The teacher is able to understand the student cultural background, interest and capabilities. In reduced class size, it becomes easier for the teacher to administer assessments and assignments with variation from student to student. Large classes allow for no variation and therefore cheating becomes a habit (Finn et al. pp 97-109). Through cheating in assignments, students tend to perform poorly in their exams. This type of teaching ensures there is a personal success of every student unlike in large class where there is no such emphasis on personal performance but the average score of the class. A large class system has also raised the debate to criticize the personalized instruction teaching system proposing that it leads to distinct courses of study creating misunderstanding among students.
Many types of research have been conducted to determine the effect of large classes in the USA. Unanimously they reflected on poor performance due to decreased engagements, and lack of behavior management among the students. This has contributed to new reforms that have proposed for a small class system of education. The study suggested that the performance was affected by student-teacher ratio. Despite some states still adopting the idea of tradition class size, many states have embraced the CRS rendering the large high school model ineffective.