• Bill Raines

North Lawrence Community Schools Moves to Consolidate Middle Schools - Does Class Size Matter?

Updated: Feb 19

BEDFORD - (February 19, 2022) - In Indiana, the public education system has turned into a big business and the competition for your child's education has begun in full force.



Is students or a business model driving North Lawrence Community Schools Consolidation?


In November 2019, the major position for consolidation was to financially upright the NLCS school corporation after 5 out of the 10 elementary schools were in deficit spending.


The Plan 2 recommendation wanted the consolidation of the elementary schools, and the consolidation of the middle school, and high school into one campus each.


Plan 2 of the North Lawrence Visionary Committee findings is to reduce North Lawrence Community Schools to three larger K-6 Elementary Schools, Parkview Elementary/Intermediate, Dollens, and Shawswick. Consolidate seventh and eighth graders at Bedford Middle School into one middle school.


Is the time now to close Oolitic Middle School? Is classroom size important?


The North Lawrence School board at the time used the mantra of Indiana State Board of Education take over was forthcoming if the financial health of the corporation was not dealt with.


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The benefits of the North Lawrence Community School Corporation Plan were outlined in a November 2019 Public Hearing:


  • Increased consistency in the core curriculum and extracurricular offerings at the elementary and middle schools

  • Expanded student opportunities for enrichment and intervention in each of the schools

  • Aligned teacher collaboration for professional learning

  • Continued special education services


During last Tuesday's work session of North Lawrence School board members now is the focus of the students.


Discussion on Oolitic Middle School Closing - Class Size and Professinal Development


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" My main focus of is now the students, when I was on the school board from a previous term, I had a high school math teacher tell me, I could always tell where the students came from based on their math skills," said Tracy Bailey North Lawrence School board member.


It is unfortunate that the only time one can advocate for children is when one sits on the school board and uses the position to finally advocate for failed teaching in the local schools. Meanwhile the majority of parents and students must sit through failed previous school board to challenge poor graduation rates. However, we will leave that discussion for another time and place.




Where does your child really sit in the North Lawrence Community Schools Consolidation Debate?


The Visionary Committee purpose was " to best prepare our students, we must support our dedicated employees in maintaining an effective student to teacher ratio. We will increase support for right-sizing our school corporation in an expedient manner," said Dr. Ty Mungle during November 2019 public hearing on consolidation. " Our vision is to support a community that is sustainable, healthy and viable," said Dr. Ty Mungle.

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According to school officials there is plenty of room to consolidate OMS into Bedford Middle School. BMS principal John Hudson is ready for the influx of more seventh and eight graders.


The takeaway from the work session Tuesday evening was class size and teacher collaboration in the reasoning to go ahead and consolidate or right size the remaining NLCS Middle School.


So, the question remains does class size matter? According to Maggie Daiton Director of Learning for NLCS, there is no big difference in learning from a smaller to larger class size. The number of students at OMS stands at 20-25 students and by consolidating into BMS the class size will remain relatively the same.


According to studies reducing class size in the early grades kindergarten through second grade to under 20 students per class raises student achievement, according to an article in " Great Schools" The gains particularly noticeable for minority students, immigrant students and students with low social economic status.


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With smaller class sizes teachers are able to know their students better and can build stronger relationships, according to study done by two Princeton University professors. The Princeton study also note students who were in schools with smaller class sizes scored higher on achievement tests, even when they were no longer in smaller class size schools.


There are disadvantages of a small classroom which is in relation to cost.


One of the largest disadvantages to small classroom size is cost. Smaller classrooms sizes in school district means adding additional teachers and building additional classrooms, and few school districts have the resources to fund additional classrooms or teachers.


Many experts also argue that it is far better to put a fabulous teacher in a large classroom than to put an in effective teacher in a reduced-size classroom just to fit the smaller-class size formula according to Kevin Simpson in the " The Denver Post" That would be a disservice to the very students the district is trying to help. (Source Seattle PI)


1. Each Student Gets Noticed

In a smaller class, it’s more difficult for students to hide and get left behind. Having fewer students means that each one can get the attention they need from their teacher. They are also encouraged to take part in discussions and driven to express their opinions.

2. Better Results

Research has shown that high school students in smaller classes have higher grades and perform better on their university entrance exams.

3. Learning is Enhanced

Not only do students learn more in small classes, but they also learn faster. And this means the class progresses through the course material more quickly. Their learning is enhanced by the confidence that students develop. They are encouraged to share their opinions and ask and answer questions, which also benefits their peers.

4. Teachers Can Teach

Teachers at the front of a small class have more opportunities to observe and assess the class as a whole and the students as individuals. Learning is further enhanced when teachers and students can interact spontaneously in the classroom.

5. Classes Become a Community

With fewer students per class, individuals can connect more closely with their peers and become more confident and comfortable when it comes to sharing their ideas and perspectives. These connections lead to lasting friendships. At an international school, students will respect and connect with peers who are from different cultures and countries – a skill that is very important in the globalized 21st century.

6. Opportunities to participate

Small groups mean fewer voices, which means the students those voices belong to have more chances to speak up in their class. They can apply the knowledge they’ve acquired as they participate in discussions.

7. Focus on Learning

In learning environments with a limited number of students, teachers can spend more time teaching the material and less time trying to regain the attention of those who are easily distracted. Teachers can also cater to students’ different learning styles and ensure that they stay engaged and understand what is being taught.

8. More Feedback

Teachers have more time to individualize their feedback, ensuring that each student understands the material, can get the help they need and can reach his or her potential.

9. Students and Teachers Can Work One-on-One

Students and teachers at EF Academy often work together one-on-one, which gives teachers the opportunity to customize instruction and guidance, and students receive their mentors’ undivided attention.

10. Ideas Are Shared

With fewer students in a class, there is more time for them to share their own ideas, express their opinions and describe their perspectives. They can really dive into where these ideas come from and enrich their international education abroad. Which means even shy students have the chance to embrace their ideas and share them with the peers. (Source EF Academy)


Some say agree with Maggie Daiton statement that class size does not really matter.


However, Public education has undergone major reforms in the last 30 years with the rise in high-stakes testing, accountability, and charter schools, as well as the current shift towards Common Core Standards. In the midst of those reforms, some policy makers have argued that class size does not matter.


This opinion has a popular proponent in Malcolm Gladwell, who uses small class size as an example of a " thing we are convinced in such a big advantage at all,"


These critics are mistaken, class size matters. Research supports the common-sense notion that children learn more, and teachers are more effective in smaller classrooms.


The policy brief summarizes the academic literature on the impact of class size and finds that class size is an important determinant of a variety of student outcomes. Smaller classes are particularly effective at raising achievement levels of low-income and minority children.


Considering the body of research as a whole the following policy recommendation emerge:


  • Class size is an important determinate of a student outcomes, and one that can be directly determined by policy. All else being equal, increasing class size will harm student outcomes

  • The evidence suggests that increasing class size will harm not only children's test scores in the short run, but their long-run human capital formation. Money saved today by increasing class size will result in more substantial social and educational costs in the future.

  • The payoff from class-size reduction is greater for low income and minority children, while the increase in class-size will likely be most harmful to these populations.

  • Policy makers should carefully weigh the efficacy of class-size policy against the other potential use of funds. While lower class sizes have a demonstrated costs-effective policy overall.

Sometimes people will argue based on less sophisticated analysis that class size does not matter. Simple correlational arguments may be misleading, though. Since variation in class size is driven by a host of influences, the simple correlation between class size and outcomes is confounded by other factors.


Perhaps the most common misinterpretation is caused by low-achieving or special needs students systemically assigned to small classes. In these cases, a simple correlation would find class size is negatively associated with achievement, but such a finding could be validly generalized to conclude that class size does not matter or that smaller class sizes are harmful.


Instead, because class size itself is correlated with other variables that also have an impact on achievement, such as student's special needs status, the estimated relationship between class size and outcomes would severely be biased.


The academic research has many examples of poor-quality studies that fail to isolate the casual impact of class size, most of them written and published prior to the so-called "credibility revolution" in ecoomoics.3 Eric Hanushek has surveyed most of the early research on class size, as well as other educational inputs such as per pupil spending, in a importantly, small class sizes have found to have positive impacts not only in test scores during the duration of the class size reduction experiment but, also on life outcomes in the years after the experiment ended. (Source Economic Policy Institute)


The North Lawrence Community School Board fast tracked the closing of the four elementary school and closing of Shawswick Middle School focused on a business model of saving money. This came before the influx of CARES Act money as well as the American Rescue Plan Funding. The financial health of the corporation really at this time is not a huge consideration.


The public session for the North Lawrence Community Schools will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Administration building.


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