Bookmark and Share

Larger class sizes: What do the students think?

There’s no doubt about it that the school district is facing tremendous budget cuts. And there is no doubt those cuts will have their greatest effect on students in the school district.

Adults across the county have been voicing their say on the issue, but what about the students? The decisions regarding the budget cuts affect the students, yet no one has yet to ask what they really think about these cuts.

Among the many steps being taken to save money, is a move to larger class sizes due to a decrease in teaching staff.

Students at Pagosa Springs Junior High School openly voiced what they had to say about the situation. When I interviewed people, I discovered that the opinions were mixed. Some students think larger class sizes would be better, while others are against the change.

One eighth-grader Dana Danielson said, “I wouldn’t mind it; I actually think it would be better.”

Another seventh-grader, Sara Dale said, “I’m fine with the switch. It would mean you could have more of your friends in the class.”

Levi Suttles, an eighth-grader said, “More people would be happy because they would be with friends, but a lot of people wouldn’t learn because they would be too distracted.”

Other students expressed that they were against the larger class sizes.

Mason Chronowski, an eighth-grader, answered, “I prefer smaller classes, because then you have a chance to get one on one attention with the teacher. We might do better academically if we got more teacher time instead of struggling on our own.”

Another student, Jennifer Smith, a seventh-grader replied, “It wouldn’t be good. More talking and less learning would be too distracting.”

Marley Weaver-Gabel, a seventh-grade student, expressed her opinion and replied, “I think it would get too crazy. The classes are already too loud.”

Colton Polczynski, an eighth-grader responded, “I wouldn’t like it. Teachers wouldn’t be able to control the classroom.”

Ultimately, the opinions were divided.

There have been many studies on whether decreasing class sizes helps a student perform better in school. Two of the largest studies, the PRIME TIME study from Indiana, and the STAR study from Tennessee, drew conclusions that were also mixed.

Most likely, parents and teachers will continue to be against having bigger classes because they believe a smaller class means more attention for the kids, and more individual attention means better grades.

Research doesn’t necessarily support this view. These two largest studies show that larger classes don’t always hurt the students’ performance. According to these two studies, the best way to have a high academic standard is to hire more qualified teachers, and to have a more intense curriculum. These two factors could end up costing a school district more money.

Increasing class sizes is just one of the considered budget cuts for our school district that will affect a student’s day-to-day learning. Perhaps this particular cut will not be as harmful as we think. Maybe other cuts will have a more negative effect, or maybe it will be the combination of all the cuts that will cause our school district the most distress.

Several of these cuts and their effects will be the subject of future articles.