Keep Middleton’s 4th grade classes small!
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We, the parents of children who will be affected by the increase in 4th grade class size, respectfully request that the District 73.5 Board of Education maintain our district’s high standards for positive learning environments by restoring funding to keep five 4th grade classrooms in Middleton Elementary.
The April 12th Board meeting minutes state that the proposed budget for the 2017-2018 school year will eliminate the fifth section of 4th grade, bringing class sizes to at least 26 or 27 students. We oppose this change for the following reasons:
- Larger class sizes harm student learning by making it more difficult for teachers to provide the individual attention students need to thrive academically. Current education standards require students to engage in complex learning tasks that depend on high degrees of teacher feedback and individualized instruction. Physical space constraints alone will make the most engaging forms of learning impractical or impossible. Smaller class sizes are correlated with many academic benefits, including narrowing the achievement gap and improving teaching and learning.
- Beyond the impact on academics, students need teachers who can connect with them as individuals. Research indicates that smaller classes have positive impacts on school climate, student persistence, student social-emotional growth, student motivation and self-esteem, parent engagement, and teacher attrition. Students who feel seen, valued, and supported as individuals are less likely to experience distress and more likely to make positive contributions.
- Average 4th grade class size in neighboring school districts in Skokie and Evanston is 20.8 students per teacher, according to Illinois School Report Card data from 2016. We believe that our school district has the capacity to serve our children with at least average class sizes and should strive for better than average whenever resources permit.
- The proposed class size change does not take into account any new families that may move into our district over the course of the year, bringing class sizes even higher. We are also concerned that future 4th grade classes may become even larger. Once a school district loses a 4th grade classroom and a 4th grade teaching position, it can be difficult to restore.
- Diversity is our district’s strength, but diverse classrooms are also more complex learning environments. Our district must invest in smaller class sizes to ensure that all students are well-supported.
What do we want?
Restore five sections of 4th grade for the 2017-2018 school year -- keeping class size at roughly 21 students per class.
Strengthen the district’s commitment to invest in the strongest possible instructional environment for our children by:
- Committing to class sizes that do not exceed local or state averages unless there is a financial emergency.
- If financial circumstances are so severe that class size must exceed the local or state average, the district should inform parents and hold a community meeting to answer parents’ questions and explore possible funding alternatives.
- Protect student learning by making the instructional environment the district’s central budgeting priority. We expect our district to invest in attracting, retaining, and supporting the strongest teachers and offering the best learning environment possible for our children.
Thank you for your consideration.
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