Does Class Size Affect Learning?

Henry Morjikian, Senior, Co-Sports Editor

To some, at PMHS, it seems as though class sizes have been purposely made larger this year. Both students and faculty have observed that the sizes of classes at PMHS have become noticeably larger relative to past academic years.  This alleged change has called into question whether this was a deliberate choice.

Dr. Cheryl H. Champ, the district’s new superintendent, said that she has heard the same concerns regarding class sizes, but cannot put her finger on the cause.

Many factors contribute to the fluctuation of class sizes. Student enrollment, is the most pressing one, driven by the number of new students coming into the district and the size of incoming grades.

It is true, however, that the student enrollment in the district has increased, and that there is a larger cohort of students.

“It’s harder to schedule a smaller high school, and have everyone get what they want,” said Dr. Cheryl Champ.

The increase in class sizes also introduces a new topic of discussion as to whether larger class sizes impact learning habits. One characteristic of PMHS that students cherish is the ability to develop intimate relationships with teachers and take advantage of a smaller, more congenial environment in which they can thrive.

Could this apparent increase in class size have a negative effect on the students? Dr. Champ agrees that it might. The new superintendent said, “It does make it harder for teachers to meet all of the needs of the students once you get to a certain point — the upper twenties and above.”

An option that could decrease the class size is to hire more teachers. That depends on whether the district has enough in the budget.  However, there are other areas the budget needs to cover which are of greater concern right now, such as elementary school language teachers and social workers.  That said, perhaps the concern surrounding this issue is exaggerated.

“If you are talking about two or three students more in a class, it may not make such a difference,” said Dr. Cheryl Champ. “It is more important to keep classes small at the elementary level.”

As the school year continues, it will be interesting to see whether this class size difference will have an effect on any of the students or faculty. For now, it is safe to say that this fluctuation is natural, and that the numbers should not have a monumental effect on the learning capacities of students