Class Size Reduction Key to Scholastic Success

Rachel Szymanski, Staff Writer

According to Public School Review, the student to teacher ratio at Campolindo is currently 21:1.  While this may sound like a reasonable ratio, it gives a false impression of the real ratios in most courses across the campus.  There are few courses with teacher to student ratios that low.  Outside of the special education department, most courses run with far higher student enrollments.

In the 1980s, the Student-Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR) study was conducted to see the effects of smaller classes on academic performance. Moving from an average of 22 students per teacher to 15 increased achievement by the equivalent of three additional months of schooling.

We have a lot to gain from smaller classes. Teachers will be more able to focus on individual students and prioritize individual instruction instead of creating broad lessons that do not account for individual learning needs. For me, classes that have less people are often less stressful and more interesting because there is more opportunity to connect with the instructor and less of the instructor’s time is spent on classroom management.

My AP psychology class has roughly 30 students crammed into a small room like sardines. The class feels impersonal and my classmates and I are often unmotivated by this environment.  Seeking answers to my questions is difficult with the instructor spread out across so many students. I often resign myself to simply reading the textbook again and again in the hope that the information will finally make sense.

Smaller class sizes helps people build meaningful connections. These relationships, whether between students or between students and instructors, are important. According to the American Psychological Association, stronger student-to-faculty relationships facilitate student social development and increase engagement in classes.

Large classes, by their nature, prevent this. Large class size forces teachers to use strict utilitarianism over building connections.

This is not just a Campolindoo problem.  In fact, there are many schools across the state with greater student to teacher ratios.  The recent teacher shortage, and the way our culture undervalues education professionals, only exacerbates the problem. It’s no surprise that Mercury News found that California was 41st out of 50 states in creating conditions that help students succeed.

The California Department of Education says that in 2016-2017, there were around 72,187 teachers for nearly 2 million students. If we wanted to reduce the average high school class size down to a more reasonable 18:1, we need to hire around 25,000 more teachers. Perhaps diverting some of the $11 billion our state spends on prisons toward education would be a good start.