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School Class Sizes

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  • School Class Sizes

    This WSJ article highlights an expense mistake that has been made in the US. and I think, in Alberta.

    We keep hearing about small class sizes, how they lead to better outcomes for kids. Every election it is touted as important.

    But the evidence is quite different and very mixed. For a given amount of money in education, training teachers better, having, using better technology, better classrooms and programs, can generate a better result than just more teacher quantity. A downside of the mad rush to improve school class ratios, is poorer teachers were often hired - it isn't quantity of teacher that matters most, it's quality. A smaller class isn't going to make a suck teacher teacher suck any less, but it can mean more suck teachers are hired - rushing to meet quotas just means schools have to dip into an ever decreasing quality of teacher candidates to select, rather than improving the schools we already have. That's going to become a bigger issue as boomer teachers retire.

    We can't afford our current government services, no amount of new taxes and no massive increase in the oil price is going to change that. As boomer teachers retire, it's an opportunity to let class sizes increase, and use some of those lost salaries on improving teachers / education / technology, and some to bring our spending back in line with what we can actually afford. Even a small increase in the student teacher ratio will have a huge financial benefit for the province, helping create a sustainable education budget, but not neccesarily a poorer education system.

    There is no formula to determine optimal class size, the experts said, and the number may vary from school to school, but shifting the level up or down can dramatically affect costs.

    The Brookings Institution has estimated that increasing the student-teacher ratio in the U.S. by one would save at least $12 billion per year in teacher salaries, money that could be spent on professional development for teachers or other interventions aimed at improving student achievement.

    “The question for educators and policymakers is how to trade off the cost of hiring more teachers vs. the benefits of having smaller classes,” Mr. Chingos said. “To pay for it, you may end up spending less on art or music, or you may pay teachers less and get worse teachers. As parents, would you rather have a couple fewer kids in your child’s class, or would you like to pick the best teacher in the grade for your child?”

    It’s seems like an elementary question. But arriving at the right answer requires some advanced calculations.
    Last edited by moahunter; 01-10-2016, 09:23 AM.

  • #2

    Whenever Top_Dawg reads these stories he gets upset about how the education system cheated him.

    Where were these quality educators when Top_Dawg was in school ?