In late May, during a roundtable discussion with school employees in Philadelphia, Mitt Romney defended his position that smaller class size does not mean a better education for students.
Though Romney cited a study comparing class sizes overseas to those in the United States, what he failed to consider are the experiences of classroom teachers familiar with the unique needs of American students.
As a high school English teacher in a district just outside Lansing, Mich., I have years of experience teaching students in both small class sizes of 15 and large ones of 30. Without fail, students in the smaller classes always fare better than those in the larger ones, most often for these three reasons.
Smaller class size means more personalized instruction. The fewer students in an hour-long class period, the more time I have to devote to addressing their individual questions and concerns, and ultimately, the better they understand and retain the material.
Smaller class size means faster, more detailed feedback. In an English class, assignments can take up to 45 minutes each to grade, leaving students in larger classes with longer wait times and less specific feedback. Smaller class sizes mean quicker, more detailed feedback when material is still fresh in students' minds.
Smaller class size means better teacher-parent communication. Large class sizes mean more parent contacts about student progress, which takes more time. Smaller class sizes allow for the time I need to provide more frequent and thorough parent contact, positively impacting student progress.
Romney's assertion could not be more wrong. As someone on the front lines, I guarantee smaller class size equals a better learning environment. I'd bet my pension most students would say the same.
Laura Sauer is a high school English teacher in Michigan. She holds a BA in English and is pursuing her MA in curriculum and instruction.
- Mitt Romney