Letter: Keep Concord classes small

Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Keep Concord classes small

I am writing as a parent of children who attend Concord public schools to advocate that the school board not increase teacher/student ratios. Class size is one of the small number of variables in public education that is thought to influence student learning.

One influential study, the Student Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR), was conducted in the late 1980s on the correlation between class size and academic achievement. This study involved 80 schools and 7,000 students ranging from very poor to very affluent. Students were randomly assigned to a small class (15:1) or a regular class (22:1). Students in small classes statistically significantly outperformed their classmates. There have been hundreds of replicating studies since, but I’m focusing on this older seminal study because there was a recent follow-up on the STAR participants in adulthood that found the students assigned to small classes were more likely to be enrolled in college at age 20. The researchers concluded that the economic returns to class-size reduction were greater than the costs. At least 24 states have since mandated or incentivized class-size reduction.

The Concord School District educates a student body diverse in socioeconomic status, country of origin, ethnicity and learning needs. This diversity is a gift – there is great learning that can occur between children from different walks of life. This diversity is why my family chose to commit to public school education. Let’s set up our classrooms for the greatest success possible with a proven strategy for increasing academic success – capping class sizes.