Second Journal Article : LUSENET : MEd Cohort III : One Thread

I read the article "One Size Does Not Fit All" written by Chester E. Finn Jr. and Michael J. Petrilli in the Teacher Magazine. Basically they were pointing out that class size is another educational reform that will fall to the wayside. They felt that is hasn't been proven that reduced class size has a positive effect on student learning. They feel that this is based more on hype than on research. They agreed that class size should be low in kindergarten and first grade classrooms, but the teachers should evaluate in other grades if that is where we truly want educational dollars spent. They suggested that we look at other issues such as more preparation time, technology, professional development or after-school programs. They really think the money spent on educational reforms should be given to the districts to spend as they see fit. I can understand that feeling but I also feel when money is given to districts to spend on reforms, the last people consulted as to where the money would be best spent are teachers. Society as a whole seems to believe they know what is best.

-- Anonymous, January 20, 1999


Good article Diane. I agree with you that a school district would not use the money to lower class size or carry out school reform if they were not directed to do so! I also agree with you that teachers are the last people consulted as to where the money should be spent. Even now I see our school district playing with numbers on paper and that the monies taken in for key project like reducing class size are not even being used as they were directed to being used. We need to have these researchers heads examined. Id also like to take a look at that research. I believe that low class size in the elementary years is a good investment.

-- Anonymous, January 23, 1999

Let's hope that the authors of this article are wrong and that lower class size efforts will NOT fall to the wayside. Small class sizes are extremely important in my opinion. There are more students in our classrooms each year with more problems - in addition to the special needs students. At least with a smaller number I feel like I have a little more time to give the extra help that is needed. Now, if the "after school programs" mentioned in your summary are tutoring programs I'd be interested to hear more about it. I find so many student's who don't learn in whole class instruction. I am constantly reteaching in small groups and individually to keep their attention and get them to "tune in" on what we're trying to learn. Do you see a difference in how students respond to lessons these days?

-- Anonymous, January 24, 1999

Thanks! I have two comments about this: for one thing, the Japanese classrooms that I have seen in the video tapes (from the TIMSS study) had about 40 students to one teacher, it seemed. However, there was another "teacher" -- maybe assistant teacher, I'm not sure -- who circulated and helped answer questions. Only one teacher presented and tied together the lesson; but two teachers were present -- putting the ratio at about 20 to 1. This was in a junior high math classroom. My other comment is that most of my students I see on a 1-to-1 basis. This is at the Area Learning Center -- and possibly the assumption is that kids get all the help that they need. However, we have lots of students, and each one sees a teacher only 20 minutes once or twice a week. The idea is that they lots of independent study; so, here as well, time and budget constraints make it extremely difficult for students to get extra help, if it's needed.

-- Anonymous, March 14, 1999

Judging by the attitude of the authors I feel that they either are or are soon to be administrators in a school system. Being a band director I work with large ensembles, small groups and individuals. From that experience I can tell you that most students learn quicker and better with one on one instruction. I also feel that the best and most talented students will learn in any situation and that with a classroom of nothing but the best size probably won't matter. Of course how often does this happen?

-- Anonymous, March 21, 1999

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