Receive this from CABE and thought I'd share it here. Trying to get off the subject of Budget and Special Ed for a short while.
Looming budget cuts have put class size at the center of the national education debate, writes Andrew Rotherham in TIME Magazine. At least 45 states will face some budget shortfall for the fiscal year that begins this July, according to The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Secretary of Education Duncan has stated that scarce resources will be the "new normal" for schools.
Rotherham feels anxiety over the class size issue is misplaced. He indicated that school districts, states, and the federal government have tested class-size reduction as a school-improvement strategy for years, and research shows smaller classes are better only if the teacher is very good. Students are better off with 28 or 30 students in the classroom and a great teacher than 22 classmates and a mediocre teacher. On top of this, to make a significant difference in student achievement, "smaller" must mean fewer than 16 students, and benefits are greatest in the early grades and for at-risk youth.
"As is too often the case in education, that research is almost completely at odds with current practice," Rotherham writes. "Instead of lowering class size a lot for the students who most need it, school districts generally lower it a little for everyone." Therefore, across-the-board increases in class size is poor policy, in Rotherham's opinion. He feels it's important to go much smaller for some students, but fine to go larger for others. Districts should also consider ways to innovate with technology, schedules, and classroom configurations to increase student-teacher interaction.
He also stressed that it is time to get serious about teacher quality by making better decisions about hiring, evaluation and tenure.Source: "When It Comes To Class Size, Smaller Isn't Always Better, "by Andrew J. Rotherham, TIME, March 3, 2011.