What do you consider to be the average size of a class where you work?

TeAch-nology.com's Teacher Poll of the Week
What do you consider to be the average size of a class where you work?
5 students
10-15 students
16-25 students
26-35 students
36-45 students
46 students +

View Results

The majority of teachers who took part in this poll reported that the average size of a class where they worked was 16-25 students. Classes of 26-35 students was also common, with all other class size options accounting for very few of the votes cast. While 16 students in a class seems like a manageable number, the reality is that there is a big difference between 16 and 25 and in all likelihood many of the respondents have average class sizes closer to 25 than 16.

Research released by the American Educational Research Association followed a study done in Tennessee called the Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR) done more than a decade ago. The study tested whether small classes of 13 to 17 students had a positive impact on student achievement compared to classes of 22 to 26 students. The conclusion was that small class sizes were particularly important from kindergarten to grade 3, and that gains made during these first three years carried students on to higher levels of education throughout their lives.

The study concluded that smaller class sizes allowed teachers to pay more attention to each student and those students were more able to participate in learning activities. When attention to learning increased then disruptive and off-task behaviour decreased, resulting in increased learning and retention of material. While all students benefitted from the smaller class sizes, low income and minority groups were shown to have dramatic improvements over students in larger classes.

Providing students with classes of 13 to 17 children would mean an increase in the number of teachers a school district would require. Most school districts do not have the funding to make this happen. The STAR studied looked at adding more staff to existing class sizes and found that increased educational assistants does not have the same benefit as decreased class size. The belief is that large class sizes are more disruptive and no matter how many more adults are in the classroom distraction is a major concern.

In the meantime, teachers and school districts do their best with the funding they have. Until such time that increased funding is designated for education the situation is unlikely to improve.