Boost student success by reducing class sizes
State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia’s 2015 orders imposed on Buffalo omit reducing class sizes in Buffalo’s Receivership Schools because class size reduction was neither requested nor negotiated by the receiver.
Research shows that smaller class sizes are strongly linked to better student success in every way that can be measured – in terms of test scores, grades, fewer disciplinary and special education referrals, higher attendance and lower teacher attrition.
Smaller class size is cited as one of only four evidence-based reforms that increase student achievement. Research reveals that students placed in smaller classes were more likely to attend college and have higher earnings and more likely to have a retirement savings in adulthood. Research has also found that any reduction in class size increases the probability that students will be positively engaged in learning.
Reformers in Buffalo argue for more testing, fewer teacher rights, an end to tenure, more faculty meetings, a longer school day and year, community schools, expansion of charter schools and more online learning. There is no evidence that these methods will lead to more learning or narrow the opportunity gap. But there are studies that conclude that smaller class sizes are beneficial to all students, especially those who are poor.
We must find the political will to reduce class sizes. Research shows that smaller classes have benefits for all kids, but twice the benefits for poor kids. If receivership is truly about uplifting children, then why aren’t small class sizes at the center of this endeavor?
Kevin M. Gibson