Eye of the Tiger

Class size variation impacts efficiency

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(BRIAN NUEVO/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(BRIAN NUEVO/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(BRIAN NUEVO/EYE OF THE TIGER)

LAUREN JULIN

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Although the student-to-teacher ratio in the Roseville Joint Union High School District is 27.5-1, actual class sizes can vary widely. Some classes like PE, Dance and Student Government often carry over 40 students per period.

Meanwhile, more specialized courses like AP French or AP Physics could have fewer than 20. Several factors – such as popularity with students, facilities capacity where classes are held, teacher availability, conflicts with other classes and periods contribute to these discrepancies.

Because of this, teachers may find themselves teaching classes with greatly varied student enrollment.

Teacher CJ Addington’s first and second period AP Environmental Science classes currently have 41 students enrolled in each class while his fourth period AP Physics class contains 17. As a result, Addington has experienced issues regarding direct contact with his students.

“If you get too many people in a class, it’s just really hard to make those one-on-one connections,” Addington said. “I’d like to spend more time with each person and it’s just hard when there’s a lot of people.”

Due to large class sizes, teachers sometimes struggle to efficiently manage grading for students. According to Addington, the more students he has in each class, the more time he must spend on making sure all of their grades and assignments are updated. This takes away from individual time spent with students.

“It just takes longer,” Addington said. “The sorting and the paperwork and doing grades. It adds a lot of extra work.”

Senior Melanie Schroeder feels that large classes negatively impact her learning and that noise from students in the classroom make it difficult for her to ensure that she can follow teacher instruction.

“It is harder for me to focus in class because there’s a lot of students talking constantly and it’s loud and sometimes I miss what the teacher says because I can’t hear [them],” Schroeder said.

Schroeder believes that having many other students in class with her takes away from individual time with her teacher.

“Having an overcrowded classroom makes learning more difficult because you don’t get as much one-on-one time with the teacher,” Schroeder said.

According to assistant principal Stephanie Malia, unpredictability of class sizes and the needs of different students leads to the uncertainty of class enrollment sizes.

“We get a preliminary number from the district of our enrollment and then we base our schedule off of that,” Malia said. “Some things that are a little difficult to account for may be new students coming in or students who need to retake a class.”

As a former teacher herself, Malia is aware of the difficulties overcrowding can cause in the classroom, such as problems meeting each student’s individual needs, having to account for the most effective learning style for each student separately and what would be most beneficial to them..

“Sometimes it has to do with the varying levels of students, that can sometimes make it more difficult to get to everybody,” Malia said.

Class sizes may vary based on different needs of individual students and their future planned curriculum. As of now, no specific plans have been placed to lower specific class sizes.

“As a district we’re always looking at that,” said Malia. “The new high school is going in so it’s all based on what our projected numbers are and how we build that master schedule.”

AP English Language teacher Denise Weis’s class sizes in the low to mid thirties were “manageable,” and any larger classes bring a longer turnaround time for grading classwork.

“What [class size] tends to affect is how quickly I can get things graded, how much work I’m taking home,” Weis said. “There’s a big difference between grading two sets of 30 as opposed to two sets of 41 essays. All of a sudden you go from 60 to 80 essays and an extra potentially three to five hours of grading. The more kids you have, the more time you’re grading and the more time you’re entering grades.”

Classroom environment partially depends on the class sizes, according to Weis, but more so on the academic attitudes of the her students.

“AP are generally well behaved,” Weis said. “If it was a class of all freshman that would be a nightmare because those kids are not as well-behaved usually.”

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