Friday, August 09, 2013

Class Size

In light of the on-going discussions about the teachers' contract, a request was made for a thread on class size.

A couple of questions:
- my experience, from this blog and time with children in school, is that class size matters.  I tell every politician that crosses my path that it matters to parents (no matter what Bill Gates or the research says).  I don't think there is anything selfish in that belief but anyone who parents realizes how difficult it is with 1,2,3, kids in your own home - how do teachers do it? 

- Would you be okay with a larger class size if there was an aide in the classroom for extra helping during reading/math instruction?  It would still be a cost but less than having a full-time aide in every class.  (I note that a couple of the dual language schools, in asking for money for the IAs, touting the additional benefits of another adult in the classroom.)

- Do you support the union view that if you give teachers over the maximum (in exchange for more dollars for the teachers) that's okay?  Should the line be drawn and that's it? 


54 comments:

Eric B said...

I think the real question is how do we mitigate large class sizes. It's an unfortunate reality that we have large class sizes. In the North, it's partly due to the general overcrowding, especially at the elementary levels. At any high school, you can probably find it where there is more demand for a class than there are nominal seats to fill it.

Having an IA would help. Part-time is better than nothing, but not as good as full time. Paying the teacher seems like a last-resort option for a few extra kids.

I do think there should be real financial consequences to the District (ie substantial extra wages or require hiring an IA) for overcrowded classrooms. Otherwise, there isn't anything to light people's hair on fire to deal with the problem.

Anonymous said...
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mirmac1 said...

I would say this is the REVERSE of the much-touted "Multi-Tiered System of Supports". So much for that lead balloon.

David said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Class size in this state is and has been a problem for decades.
A little known point on this issue is that class size at the start of the school year may already be as high as 40 students per class. The district then waits until the October 1st count to see if extra teachers are needed. Then students start all over with a new schedule and different teachers. The current limit at secondary is 32 students per period or 150 per day. in a 50 minute period that means that after attendance is taken, house keeping business done,,] students ready to begin with supplies out, etc it is time for reviewing the previous day's instruction and then that day's direct instruction. This leaves less than one minute per student for individual help, checking homework, going over papers, etc.
Teachers being paid more is not part of this equation. There simply are not enough minutes in the day to give students what they need.
Especially with many students having individual learning plans. Also, there is the expectation that instruction will be differentiated for every learning style. Students are being cheated out of a meaningful and quality education every day.This is not a learning environment. Does SPS or our state government care? The answer is no. I believe that if teachers do strike parents and students should join them on the picket lines.School PTAs should organize shifts for working parents and volunteers to provide child minding. Vote with your feet or accept the long term outcome of the warehousing of students in our public schools. The situation is untenable to begin with. SPS seems not to understand that their incompetence and lack of foresight is making the situation worse. Class size in not a bargaining issue for teachers it is a human rights issue for students.
Salander

Anonymous said...
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Melissa Westbrook said...

he effect of class size reductions on test scores appears to be fairly small."

I would say that if all we are concerned with are test score, okay.

But the issue is also motivation and students feeling helped. How many students are not engaged because they are bored when the teacher doesn't pay any attention to them?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I had to delete this because of the length of the moniker (please read the rules):

There are real live ramifications to large class sizes. Yes, Bill Gates, et al, class size does matter. My 6th grade daughter routinely came home with unanswered questions from class this year. When I pushed her to ask for help in class, she told me over and over that she asked for help, but could not get it. The teachers simply could not get around to helping her as they had so many kids to deal with.

This cascaded into many bad evenings at home as we attempted to learn CMP math, spent much time on Khan Academy, had an eventual late-in-the year meeting with multiple teachers to try to set up after school help, and, sadly, summer school. Having a IA would certainly help, even part time. We should be paying our teachers more anyway.

When your kiddo comes home and says they asked for help and that the teacher said he/he would be right back, but could not come back because she is swamped by the other 33 kids in the class, there is a problem here and real live ramifications that impact how kids feel about school, their families, how they spend their free time (tutoring), and their future. It seems that even when the voters speak and endorse lower class sizes, no one in the state cares to follow it. There is such little conversation of how this affects kids. It is real. It very much matters for the vast majority of kids.

Sadly though, I don't feel this is going to change here.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I've got a question-maybe someone here can answer it. It does seem as though smaller classes are better, but when I was in school, there wasn't a day, even in a parochial school, that I was in a class with fewer than 30 kids. Not even in kindergarten. Yet I don't remember chaos, and obviously my generation made it to college and successful careers.

My question is-did it work because so much was "drill and kill" back then, we didn't know any better, we just lucky, or what? I do know that there were no spec ed kids (they got shipped out) and gifted kids were just expected to make do. Is that maybe the answer? That if you weren't in the middle, too bad?

I've often wondered about this.

Timely Topic

David said...

Melissa, did you accidentally delete my comment? Or did you delete it on purpose?

Anonymous said...

I don't think many people have seen this report on class size that was published earlier this year:

K-12 Class Size Reductions and Student Outcomes: A Review of the Evidence and Benefit-Cost Analysis
(Washington State Institute for Public Policy)

http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/pub.asp?docid=13-01-2201

GMG

Anonymous said...

What is highly frustrating is that the calculations of class size are based on student-teacher ratio and not on the number of bodies in the classroom.

In my experience there is a huge different between a teacher's aide or special education aide and having a lead and assistant teacher. The former is what we see in public schools and it doesn't provide children with the social attention they need to succeed when there are 28 children to one classroom teacher. The aides are often put with the children requiring the most help with learning so for a portion of the day a small subset of the class will have 1:1 or 1:3 attention -- that still leaves 25:1 with the rest of the class.

With the lead teacher working with an assistant as a team there is a lot more opportunity for giving students attention.

I understand that Montessori education can involve larger classes with a higher ratio, but there is an approach to education that far differs from traditional teaching methods. Most educators in public schools do not seem to have any experience with Montessori, self-directed learning or more egalitarian approaches to the learning environment.

GMG

mirmac1 said...

GMG, That is an interesting survey of rigorous studies.

I wish they had looked at the evidence at cost-benefit of K-12 Class Size Increases and Student Outcomes. I'm not a statistician but I will guess that a) they save money; and b) and the gap would get worse.

So, is the Strategic Plan and all the pronouncements about the "greatest civil rights issue of our time" just a bunch of hooey? Ask the Alliance and LEV folks about that.

Melissa Westbrook said...

David, sorry, that was accidental. I meant to delete someone else's. Please post again.

Timely, funny you should mention when all of us were in school because I was just looking at old class photos from elementary. I was surprised at the class size. I think some of your thoughts are probably correct - Special Ed elsewhere, gifted kids bored, kill and drill, etc. I also think that discipline was better - you just couldn't get away with much back then. (I say this more from the middle/high school side because my sons had pretty strict elementary teachers when it came to class management.)

Thanks for the link, GMG.

Anonymous said...

When kids were in elementary school, we had larger class size than what was contractual. There were no aids. I was told the teachers took the extra pay instead of IAs. Many parent volunteered in the classrooms instead. This made all the difference with students getting more one on one help in all subjects and overall classroom management. Large class size in middle school has been awful for learning.

Outta SPS

Anonymous said...

An IA can be very helpful if they are a good IA. But try having an IA who is supposed to be helping 4th graders with fractions, but doesn't remember/know how to reduce fractions, etc. Or one who spends the bulk of the time chatting with parent volunteers. Sometimes it's just like having yet another student; depends on who you end up with and at what time (having aide time during PE is not helpful). An IA - even a good one - is no substitute for smaller class sizes. Paying me more will not make me more effective at my job if I have too many students.

C

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Mirmac, for reposting the link. Your letter was great.

I've had 38 honors students and it was fine. They had the basic skills and the basic motivation to work in small groups or work independently so I could float and give kids one-on-one support. The grading load was hard, though.

I've had 32 general ed students who had a wide range of skills and motivation. Some kids lacked very basic skills and hid their deficits out of embarrassment, or misbehaved so that they could contribute something to their peer group. I'm an optimist, but it is impossible for a teacher to close the achievement gap with a large class size of mixed abilities, or a large class size of low abilities. Those kids need smaller classes.

-Teacher

Anonymous said...

SEA is holding a Class Size Rally on August 14. Bring your members, your friends,and yourself to the west side of Franklin High School. We start at 3:30 pm with time to make signs, share stories, and talk with others about the bargaining
issues. The speakers will start at 4:30 with a presentation and skit highlighting the issues.

Your contract Bargaining Team needs you at this rally with all the members, friends, and education supporters you can find. We
need to send the district the message that increasing class size is the wrong way to go."

Northender

Melissa Westbrook said...

The SEA wants parents there? I appreciate the issue for them and, of course, I think a larger class size would not be good.

But I will say I don't see the SEA ever really supporting parents; they always want something in support of their wishes.

If I wasn't hearing that they want the same class sizes AND they won't take extra pay even if offer for more students, then I'd be good.

But parents don't get the choice of more students in the classroom; at least the teachers have a chance to fight back.

David said...

Melissa, I think you can undelete a comment. That would be great if you could do that, as the comment was long and took some time to write.

Trying to say it again but not as well, I pointed out that smaller class sizes are very expensive with only a small demonstrated benefit, and that that money might be better spent paying existing teachers for more hours so we could add school days (to address summer learning loss).

I'm not at all opposed to smaller class size. But it does cost a lot, and there might be better ways to help kids.

Anonymous said...

Gee David. Are you a teacher or parent? I bet not. The overloading has to end somewhere doesn't it? Or are you saying "Sky's the limit?" And if you're NOT saying that, what would that upper limit be? Do you think 40 kids in a language arts class would be OK? What about teacher caseloads of 185? Eg. 185 students every day. Is that OK? Do you think that is over the top? Guess what? That already happens now!!! And routinely at some schools. (McClure for example.) Even though it is against the contract.


And, if you think those limits are fine, then how about going higher? Maybe actual class size should be 60? Maximum caseloads 300? Isn't there a limit at all?


I don't think people are expecting anything luxurious here, just reasonable.

Parent Perspective

Anonymous said...

I agree with Melissa.

SEA is certainly appropriately advocating for their members on this issue,but I have yet to really see them advocate as hard for parents.

Signed,

Been around this block before

David said...

Relax, Parent Perspective, I am not saying any of that. No need to go off arguing with a straw man.

Melissa accidentally deleted my earlier comment, which had a lot more detail, but let me try to recreate more of it.

Dropping class size from 30 to 20 does yield an improvement in test scores, but the research (here is one summary) says the improvement is very small. One research article summarized in that study said dropping class size from 22 to 15 students (about 1/3 fewer students) yielded the same improvement as three additional months of school every four years.

The problem is that it is very expensive to drop class size by a third. For example, dropping classes from 30 students to 20 requires 50% more teachers and classrooms, so costs about 50% more. Instead, if you pay teachers 50% more, you could run school 50% longer (9-5am and all summer long as well), which might have a much larger effect, given the very high negative impact of summer learning loss on children in poverty.

I am in no way saying we should fund our public schools with even less by increasing class size even more. Quite the opposite, I think our schools are badly underfunded. But I am saying that it is very costly to reduce class size, and it is far from clear that is the best way to spend that money. Given the huge amount of damage from summer learning loss, spending the money extending the time in school and paying existing teachers more might yield a much larger benefit.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick clarification about SEA's position on class size overage pay. I hope this will dispel some misunderstandings.

We have tried to bargain absolute hard class size limits over the years but have been unsuccessful in getting the district to go there.

Class size overage pay is a financial disincentive to the district. It is designed to cost the district enough money so that the positive incentive for the district is to hire more educators and create more classrooms with smaller classes.

That is how it is designed to work. The overwhelming majority of educators do not want overage pay; they want smaller classes.

Educators know that smaller class sizes is one of only a few research-based initiatives that actually improves student achievement.

Parents and educators have a tremendous common interest in this issue. I encourage parents to show up on August 14th. It promises to be a lively and visually evocative event.

Jonathan Knapp
President
Seattle Education Association

Melissa Westbrook said...

Jonathan, far too many parents complain about class size in this district for it to be happening in a few classrooms (especially at the high school level).

I know that teachers want smaller class sizes and if I believe they would stand their ground, parents would come out in droves.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jonathan, for the explanation. Can you elaborate on whether or not the district is planning to use the high poverty class size reduction funds (for state funded all day Ks with more than 50 percent free/reduced lunch)? It will lower class size in kindergarten in more than half our schools to 1 to 21 (and is paid for by the state)

On Class-size Funding (via the OSPI memo to all school districts dated July 2nd). Can be found here: http://www.k12.wa.us/bulletinsmemos/memoranda2013.aspx

"State-funded full-day kindergarten schools with greater than 50 percent of their students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch, which includes all of the newly eligible schools, will be funded at a class size of 20.85 students. This smaller class size is possible because of the Legislature’s high-poverty class-size reduction funding."

TS

Anonymous said...

When we look at the research about class sizes, it does suggest that there is only a small affect on student achievement. However, we must remember that the measure of achievement is test scores and that is hardly the whole picture.

I have taught in classes ranging from 21 to 32 students and I can say unequivocally that smaller class sizes are better for students. When I have 21-26 students, I can understand them as learners and as whole people. I have time each day to talk to them about their work, and to sit down with them if they need extra help. I can spend more time looking at their work, commenting on it, and planning for where they need to go next.

I have time to communicate meaningfully with parents, to make phone calls, write emails and have meetings. When a student needs extra attention, I can do a thorough job gathering the information and making sure the SIT meeting and all the followup happens.

Once my classes hit 27 and higher, the implications are painfully clear. There simply aren't enough hours in the day to do what needs to be done for my students. And each extra student only makes it more difficult. It is a terrible feeling for a teacher to know that you aren't doing everything you can to help your students.

If I had a choice between a huge raise and 32 kids or my current salary and 25 kids, I would take the later without a second thought. Being able to do my job well and give students what they deserve is my highest priority. I know that class size is the key to being able to accomplish that.

Regarding overages, I am not sure if they are trying to change the contract language, but in the past individual schools were responsible for paying overages out of the building budget. At my school, teachers didn't claim the overages because we didn't have enough money and it would have to be taken from our supply budget. If it is going to be a financial disincentive, then the district has to be the one to pay it.

-dismayed teacher

Anonymous said...

Salander is dead on. If you expect kids to get any one-on-one time in the classroom in a secondary situation you simply have to lower class size or revise the model. I've switched to a district that blocks classes, and it helps some, although I'm teaching essentially two lessons on the same day to accommodate for the fact that I only see my kids three times a week instead of five.

And the october count thing is just a nightmare. I've twice now picked up an extra class after October count and those kids are just a mess. You've lost a month of setting expectations and process, and can only hope that whatever class they've come from has managed to keep pace with the building to a reasonable extent.

More money is really not a great option, although it is the one I take. I'd love to have a subject-area literate IA, but that's just not reality. I've had some very competent IA's in terms of managing their student, but certainly not my content, and I've had IA's that are less capable academically than the student they've been paired with. Using an IA as a stop gap won't be effective until the entire system is reworked, and even then it's only part of the issue.

Aside from classroom time, class size has a huge impact on grading. Even if I can get all of my papers graded and input in one minute each, I'm looking at a minimum of 7.5 hours a week of grading to cover all the assignments students have worked on. That's more than my prep period, and while the contract requires half an hour before and after school, half of that is filled with meetings, leaving little time to prep for the day or class.

Elsewhere

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thank you teachers for weighing it. It confirms much of what I thought I understood. I am dismayed to hear that if larger classes sized occur, the money comes out of the school budget.


"If I had a choice between a huge raise and 32 kids or my current salary and 25 kids, I would take the later without a second thought. Being able to do my job well and give students what they deserve is my highest priority. I know that class size is the key to being able to accomplish that."

I feel like sending this to Bill Gates. I just don't think he gets it (or wants to). But again, it's not his kids.

jl said...

If you reduce class size, but then have the teacher stand and deliver the same way they do for 30 or 20 there will be little effect. If however that class is run more effectively through formative assessment and differentiation; using small flexible grouping, giving kids meaningful work at an appropriate developmental level and use the ratios for more conferences and guided small groups, I think you would see a dramatic effect. I have yet to see a study by the way that studies the outcomes of smaller classes in intermediate grades.

Parent and a Teacher

D-Wade said...

The amount that a teacher is paid for having extra students is ridiculous and insulting...something like $1.75 per student per day. Mr. Knapp is wrong , it is NOT a serious disincentive.

Anonymous said...

The money question is a non-issue. SPS spent over $250,000 and hundreds of administrative hours last year alone "investigating" and "evaluating" experienced teachers in order to force them out of their careers.
SPS wants cheap (inexperienced) teachers and unworkable class sizes ONLY so that the money can be used to support a bloated central administration and spurious ed reform experiments.
Parents want and students need individualized instruction, meaningful and timely feedback and the knowledge that the teacher knows the student as a special and unique person. This is certainly reasonable but can only be accomplished by teachers who have the experience to fully understand and practice their craft in settings that are not elbow to elbow.
All this crap about test scores is a political propaganda red herring that any thinking person would spit out at first bite.
This district uses available classroom space as a bargaining chip. There is plenty of totally wasted but perfectly usable space in the central office building that could house a innovative and dynamic secondary learning academy. Oh, I forget, but then the central admin would actually have to see students in their everyday working lives--something that should be avoided at all costs.
Salander

Anonymous said...

What I notice is the grading. It is particularly bad on writing assignments. My child typically writes 8-12 pages a week in her LA class. Of the few assignments that are graded she gets one comment, good job, or well done. No feedback, no ways to improve. But you can understand that when you think of a teacher trying to evaluate 1500 pages of student writing a week. I just don't think that my child learns anything or improves with no feedback on the writing. That is like practicing math calculations where you don't know if you are getting the right answer. How does that practice help? What a waste of her time.

I think that smaller class sizes or more planning time would make a difference in grading student work. I believe that teachers in Finland spend half their day with no students.

-HS parent

Anonymous said...

Note that in childcare settings there are strict ratios of adults to children, in order to keep the kids safe. Yet somehow when someone is supposed to part knowledge it is okay to double the number of students per adult.

WA State Requirements for Staffing Childcare Centers


CHM

Anonymous said...

Impart, not part

CHM

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the physical space issue with larger classes. I've been in classrooms with 35(!) 6th graders, and there is JUST NO ROOM. It makes it incredibly difficult for the teacher to get physically near some students. If a student needs help, I may have to climb over 4 other students to get to that one. If there's problematic behavior developing across the room, it's very difficult to get there and diffuse the situation quietly before it escalates. You can't separate the kids that need separating. You can't arrange the room so that all the kids can see the boards.

I think a second adult can help, IF they're good at what they do and work well with the lead teacher (and various other conditions are met), but that really doesn't solve the space issue. And I don't think that having the 2nd adult pull kids into the hall/common area is an appropriate choice-that's not what those areas are intended to be used for.

Rachel

mirmac1 said...

I wonder if anyone downtown did the math on what it would cost for IAs to help cover the load. Probably not. Because I'm sure the cost would immediately outweigh the supposed "savings" of increased class size.

Or do they expect parents to quit their jobs and volunteer every day in every classroom.

Maureen said...

Am I right in thinking that SPS is trying to get the union to agree to overall larger contractual class sizes so they don't have to pay a bonus to the teacher OR for an IA? I get that with increasing enrollment and no more class rooms, there simply WILL be more kids sitting in the remaining seats, but how can SPS excuse paying a HS teacher with a class load of 175 the same as one with a load of 125? And what incentive does that create for SPS to hire more teachers to fill whatever classrooms are available? SPS gets thousands more dollars for each kid in a seat, how can they justify not sharing some small part of that with the teachers?

I agree with a teacher above who said that some classes are manageable even when they are large, but I don't hear that SPS is trying to negotiate variable contractual class sizes depending on the kids' needs (and of course, sometimes kids who aren't categorized as special needs can take a lot of attention.) Combining bigger class sizes with increased inclusion seems like a recipe for disaster (and of course creates an excuse to decrease inclusion.)

mirmac1 said...

"Combining bigger class sizes with increased inclusion seems like a recipe for disaster (and of course creates an excuse to decrease inclusion.)"

Thank you Maureen for bringing this aspect of the district negotiating team's position into sharp focus.

Let's see: cater to the union-busting elements on the side of the admin's negotiating team OR count on $10M less in IDEA funding for services provided to students requiring some additional, special education services. The district is now out of excuses to create more exclusion.

As is evident from the latest Shaw/Varner screed, there are elements in media and commerce who have no problem capitilizing on the difficult position over 12% of our families find themselves in - essentially consigned to the dustbin of education.

There are some of us who will not brook decreased inclusion. I would dare to say that includes state regulators. It is, after all, federal law. So that means everyone (except for those who wish to flee to private school) must make plans to comply with the law AND "close the achievement gap" or the other corporate Ed Reform hoo-haa.

I will not invest my efforts in order to benefit neither the district's, nor the SEA's bargaining position. I WILL do whatever is necessary to ensure SPS students have a REAL teacher for a reasonable number of students, and adequate supports to deliver beneficial individualized instruction.

Anonymous said...

I get that there are always going to be some hot issues - that's negotiation. That this class-size issue even came up, however, surprises me.

Most all educators (and most admins are former educators) would agree it's not good and so this should not have even been on the table even as a wedge. Of course any given class' effectiveness all depends on the individual dynamics. I've had class sizes of 34 and 35 which were great - the 35 usually had 2-3 ELL IA's and thus we had several ELL students move to honors after that year. Yet I've also had classes of 15 struggling students that were exhausting and painful to teach... and that was with an average attendance of 11-12/day. Class size (#s) alone clearly is not the only determinant, but there is an impact.

Please understand that sometimes (yes, sometimes, not always and definitely a risk) a larger class can go better because students look around, see a full class, and seem to realize they can forget asking the teacher for lots of individual help as there simply will not be much. Thus sometimes students do better in a slightly larger class as they try to work with their peers more instead of "wait" until the teacher gets to them. Obviously the larger class sizes not appropriate for classes with decent #s of mainstreaming IEP and/or ELL students.

As an aside, most teachers I know are much more worried about the 150 max headcount than the 32 max. Yeah, that class of 34 can be a bear... but total exhaustion (and therefore necessary shortcutting) comes from having 155-160 students in part due to the sheer extra quantity of grading. Consider a total load of 125 students across 5 classes with one class having 34 due to a scheduling fluke verus 155 students total across those same 5 classes. One exhausting period can still result in fairly good teaching (and I think the financial incentive helps offset the extra time commitment and stress) versus being completely overwhelmed with weekly grading for the 30 extra students with a 155 student load.

I for one am OK with an occasional class of 33 or 34 if needed (and if a good behavioral/skill level class), but I'm not sure you can even pay me to take on 151 students as I know my effectiveness will drop while my stress dramatically increases.

One teacher's two cents.

"Teach"

Smaller Classes said...

Some of our high school teachers ae responsible for 160 students per day. This is not ok- even if teachers accept additional dollars for large class sizes.

Patrick said...

The extra money is beside the point. Classes that full shouldn't happen. If there are rooms available, hire teachers for them. If there are no rooms and no way to put in portables, hire a qualified aid.

The extra money goes to the teacher (if the teacher claims it) but it's the kids who suffer.

I do think the teachers should get the modest bonus for overfull classes, mostly because it creates an incentive for SPS to avoid overfull classes, and forces SPS to track how many there are.

Anonymous said...

When the few who bothered to vote chose Jonathon Knapp over Eric Muhs, the SEA membership sent the district a clear message--that the union is apathetic, lacks unity, and supports the status quo (TFA, evaluations based in part on MAP, large class sizes leading to lack of differentiation, etc.)--in a phrase, IS WEAK. SEA also lost respect from parent supporters, who were dismayed by the low turnout and results.

Teachers (who comprise most of the membership), I wish you well. But you reap what you sow.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

the comments of "Teach" 8/10/13, 5:33 PM made me realize that Banda is or has turned into a toady of those liars associated with the gates foundation who have been pushing the 'class size doesn't matter' lie while they send their kids to places like Lakeside for small classes.

oh well, now that I think I'm no longer confused about this complex class size issue, I'm going to figure out why that bright yellow thing is in the sky for a while and then it isn't in the sky and then it is back in the sky .......

WhatIsLight

Small Classes said...

Does the SEA contract provide a provision that allows for teachers to accept increased pay for increased class sizes?

Meg said...

There is a lot of talk about the impact of class size on student learning, as there should be.

I wonder if a secondary effect is overlooked: do large class sizes reduce teacher retention by causing burnout? Are teachers lost (whether good, bad or just fine) because of large class loads?

Anonymous said...

Someone brought up a good point about increased class size with increased inclusion. When I was teaching in Seattle I started the year with 31 first graders. 31 6 year olds! My class size eventually dropped down to 25 and I had 4 kiddos with severe behavior issues that seriously impacted learning with no help. On top of harassment from my administrator...and no help from the union (the rep I met with was two hours late to the meeting we had scheduled that I took half a personal day for). Huge classes with kids who need a lot of support with unsupportive admin and weak union reps...talk about stress and burnout.

-FormerSPS'er

Anonymous said...

Current class size info is spelled out on page 89-90 of the linked 2010-13 SEA bargaining agreement:

http://www.seattlewea.org/static_content/cbacert.pdf

The individual teacher will be compensated for any days after October 1st which he/she has an overload.

just fyi

Not Happy said...

Teachers are reliant upon students teaching students. I'm tired of my student being used for this purpose and not attending to his own educational needs.

FWIW Students aren't the best teachers and they don't always have correct information.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Teachers, is my understanding correct that if you don't reach agreement, your current contract stands for another year?

Anonymous said...

Not correct. That so true for contracts with classified staff. For certificated staff, there is no automatic roll over provision like there is for classified staff.

-SWWS

Anonymous said...

At the elementary level I can spend a lot more one-to-one time with students when my class size is smaller. I moved to this district from another that had caps on class sizes that were much smaller than SPS' and I also had more support in the classroom (IA's for sped students) and more plan time. I have stepped backward in time for a shorter commute. Parents: know that I cannot give as much individual attention and differentiation to your child if my class size increases.

Another thing that shocks me is SEA union has only sent out one survey asking me, the teacher, what I want our union leaders to bargain for. Yes, class size is something I want you to fight for, but I'd also like to feel like I have a voice in my union.

Anonymous said...

How much would it cost to reduce class size at every SPS school to X? We talk about how expensive it is but how much would it be in terms of real dollars, eg increased property tax per household? Or are we already paying for that?

Curious