How do we ensure poor students attain grade level proficiency? Increasingly, policymakers are latching on to class-size reduction as a cure-all, imbuing smaller classes with the power to eradicate intractable achievement gaps. While shrinking class size can be a good thing (after all, what parent wants their child in larger classes with fewer teachers?), research suggests it’s no quick fix for struggling schools.Kakadelis is referring to the Hamilton Project Report, which argues for changes in assessing teacher quality, changes that would emphasize flexibility and classroom efficacy over credentials.
But that’s not stopping educators and lawmakers in North Carolina. Since 2000, the State Board of Education and the General Assembly have implemented class-size reduction with little effect on student performance. The Charlotte Mecklenburg School Board has just jumped on board after reviewing the 2007-08 school budget, adding another 40 teachers to high-poverty elementary schools.
If simply padding teaching staff at low-performing or low-income schools isn’t the answer, what is? For starters, we need to get back to basics, reexamining the kinds of teachers we put in the classroom. Rather than blithely ascribing to a "strength in numbers" philosophy of education, we need to pay more attention to teacher quality. Having more teachers doesn’t make a school successful, but having good teachers assuredly does.
But lets us leave the Hamilton report aside. Even under ideal conditions, and we know teacher hiring has never had, nor will ever have, ideal conditions. The more teachers you hire, by simple numberics, the fewer teachers of quality you will have. It doesn't matter how you define quality, there are only so many people with that quality. Sure, you might get lucky, but do we really want to depend on luck to hire teachers?
I simply don't understand why school systems and state policy makers don't understand the math.