Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

Does Class Size Affect How Teachers Teach?

November 15, 2005 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

Saul Cooperman’s suggestion that we can pay teachers more by increasing the numbers of students per teacher initially makes sense (“Increase Class Size—And Pay Teachers More,”Commentary, Nov. 2, 2005.) As Mr. Cooperman points out, teachers are unlikely to change their teaching styles much with 30 students in a class as opposed to 20.

The problems occur when the 10 extra students are multiplied by five classes, and the teachers’ out-of-class grading chores are increased by one-half. Teachers then will assign less written work or grade papers less thoroughly.

Assuming that teachers are already working at full throttle, there is simply no way to increase class sizes and maintain the level of services that teachers now provide.

Patrick Mattimore

San Francisco, Calif.

To the Editor:

If Saul Cooperman expects to persuade readers with his contrarian argument, he needs to at least get his facts straight. He builds his provocative case on the wobbly assertion that most teachers don’t change their instructional approach despite fluctuations in class size, citing the study released in December 2004 by the University of London’s Institute of Education.

That’s not what the study found at all. It said: “Perhaps the clearest effects of class size were on teaching. Pupils in smaller classes were more likely to be the focus of a teacher’s attention and to experience more teaching overall in mathematics, while in larger classes pupils were more likely to be one of the crowd.”

The study went on to further call into question Mr. Cooperman’s proposal, when it noted that “pupils in larger classes were found to have a more passive role in contact with the teacher; in smaller classes, pupils were more likely to interact in an active way with teachers, initiating contacts, responding to the teachers, and sustaining interaction with them.”

It’s ironic that Mr. Cooperman concludes by asking if educators and parents will debate his proposal on the facts, rather than on emotion. He’s best advised to bear in mind an adage in journalism: Get it first, but first get it right.

Walt Gardner

Los Angeles, Calif.

The writer was a teacher for 28 years in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
The ABCs of ESSER: How to Make the Most of Relief Funds Before They Expire
Join a diverse group of K-12 experts to learn how to leverage federal funds before they expire and improve student learning environments.
Content provided by Johnson Controls
Science K-12 Essentials Forum How To Teach STEM Problem Solving Skills to All K-12 Students
Join experts for a look at how experts are integrating the teaching of problem solving and entrepreneurial thinking into STEM instruction.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Modernizing Principal Support: The Road to More Connected and Effective Leaders
When principals are better equipped to lead, support, and maintain high levels of teaching and learning, outcomes for students are improved.
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: April 27, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: April 6, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: March 30, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
6 min read
Education Briefly Stated: March 16, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
7 min read