Debate over the Effect of Class Size on the Effectiveness of Teachers
The debate over class size has a long history in the American education and directly affects the policy regarding the allowed number of students in class. Considering that reducing number of students in a class presupposes increase of number of classes, and, consequently, premises and teachers needed, such decision substantially rises education expenses. The public debate, therefore is not about considering whether large classes are better than small ones, but whether the deliberate reducing of number of students in the class is worthy and produces the expected effect. Though the conducted researches show that reduction of class size positively affects students’ academic achievement (Chingos and Whitehurst), more recent researches doubt such conclusion claiming that it is the change itself and additional trainings to teachers, and not the eventual number of students, that produces such effect (Higgings).
As a result, some people voice the idea it is better to have large classes educated by the best teachers who will be paid more (Mosle). Therefore, teachers and their actual ability and readiness to work in the large classes has become the main focus of discussion. Jay Matweys in his article “Class Struggle: Better Teachers, Not Tinier Classes, Should Be Goal” supports the idea that the quality of the teacher and not class size matters, while Sara Mosle, the author of the article “Does Class Size Count?”, opposes it. Emily Richmond in her article “Is It Better to Have a Great Teacher or a Small Class?”, John Higgings in his article “Does Class Size Matter? Research Reveals Surprises”, and Lisa Schencker in her article “40 students? 50? Teachers Share Stories of Utah's Largest Classes” suggest they support different arguments both for and against the idea. The entire debate circles around this fulcrum: Do teachers in classrooms of thirty or forty children accomplish their intended tasks as educators?
First, there is an assumption that the ability to perform all the task as educator depends solely on the quality of teacher himself. Proponents of such idea do not support reduction of classes considering that this way a child can lose a chance to be taught by the best, experienced teachers (Richmond). They claim that great teachers can teach sixty, while poor teacher struggle with five (Matweys). Though the opponents acknowledge that the quality of teaching is of great importance, they say that national policy cannot be based on this principle. Evaluating teachers as more or less effective demands thorough study taking into account different aspects of performance, which will take years, while on practice such distinction may be subjective and at times offending. Moreover, teachers constantly gain experience and practice and may turn into more efficient with time, therefore the distinction between teachers’ performance should be often revised (Mosle). It is important that Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research study revealed that when a few students joined the classes educated by more effective teachers, they …