My average class has 35 students. My school’s largest laptop cart has 32 computers.
Do you see the problem?
There has been intense debate about whether or not class size is directly related to student achievement. The data is just too vague, and the studies are too scattered to provide any definite conclusions. But allow me to make (what I believe is) a factual, objective, mathematical statement:
35 > 32
Does anyone want to debate that?
Whether or not you believe it’s more difficult to get 35 students to pass a standardized test than it is to get 30 or fewer to, you can’t argue the fact that it’s a heck of a lot harder for me to conduct a web-based lesson when I have (up to) six more students than computers in my room. Additionally, you can’t tell me it isn’t problematic to have a “class set” of 30 books for a class of 35 kids. Am I supposed to make five students share with others? Or would you prefer I make (or buy, with my own money) five additional copies of each book?
We’re increasing class sizes to save money, I get that. But if you’re going to force me to fit 38 desks into a 30’x30′ classroom, you should at least give me adequate resources to teach those additional students.
This past week, I had all of my classes in one of our computer labs (we’re lucky enough to have two). Since one was booked for the week, I settled for the second one. Unfortunately, our “Lab 2” only has 25 computers – 13 fewer than I need for my largest class. So what do I do? I reserve both the computer lab AND a laptop cart. Now I have a combination of 57 desktops and laptops (not that all of them work, mind you, but that’s a completely different problem). That’s not fair to do, but I can’t just reserve 13 laptops from a cart. So now I’m taking more resources away from my colleagues because I am determined to allow all of my students to participate in this assignment.
As it turns out, the teacher using the other computer lab had a similar problem: the 35 desktops in “Lab 1” were insufficient to serve her largest class. Luckily, we discovered that we were in similar situations, and we shared the cart resources, so every one of our students had access to the technology.
We shouldn’t have to do that. If we’re being asked to take on more students, make all those students pass a standardized test, create differentiated Common Core lesson plans individualized to those students, and incorporate technology use into our instruction, all while taking on more administrative responsibilities and enduring additional furlough days, the least the state can do is meet us half way by giving us adequate resources to achieve the ridiculous requirements set for us.
I don’t care what your “studies” say, not having the resources needed for every student DOES negatively impact student achievement (and teacher sanity). Period.