Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Class Size: The Equity Quotient

There's always a lot of talk about class size in education circles. As I consider the ideal class size, I am now a believer that we need to determine this with an equity algorithm. The equity algorithm would determine the right number of students for a teachable class with the following elements:
  • # of students who lack basic needs (proper clothing, good nutrition, health care)
  • # of children who have experienced trauma
  • # of children who do not have academic help at home
  • # of children who have Individualized Ed Plans
  • # of children who have behavioral problems
I think this is a more fair way to determine right numbers for teachable classes. 

Let's take this as an example. A group of 25 students who are all well supported, have their basic needs met, and have few to no behavioral problems vs. 25 students where a significant amount of the students face trauma, little at-home academic help, extra learning needs and behavioral problems. Every teacher knows that the first group will be more teachable than the second group. 

In this data age, we can be smarter about class sizes. We can use data, algorithms, and research to determine right numbers for teachable groups and then staff our schools accordingly. Of course we know that this will require different funding and staffing models. Currently all over the United States there are schools that have unteachable classes due to number and needs. A friend of mine in a system other than mine has 30 students in her class and many of them have substantial needs--this is an unteachable group with respect to the kinds and depth of learning possible today. 

When the equity quotient of a class is out not met, then systems would have to add additional staff and make new plans to meet the needs of all those students and all those needs. As I've noted many times before teachers are not superhuman--we can't meet extraordinary levels of need, and that's why I support the use of an equity quotient for optimal class sizes rather than a number alone. Do you agree?