Let's Fix the Fifth Grade!
Let's Fix the Fifth Grade!
Dear St Sylvester School Family -
We’re a concerned group of parent/guardians of St. Sylvester 5th Grade students. We're asking for your support to help us address what we see as several major problems with the school's 2019-2020 5th Grade in terms of class size and its overall impact on the student experience.
Please consider signing this petition as an act of support for our efforts to help fix the 5th Grade! All responses will be directly sent to both Ms. Doyle (as Principal) and Father Sam (as Parish Priest). Feel free to share this petition with any parent/guardian of any St. Sylvester Student in any grade.
We, as 5th Grade parent/guardians, appreciate your support as we work to make our lovely school into a more equitable environment for our students!
St. Sylvester School has elected to combine its 5th Grade class into a single class of 26 students during the 2019-2020 school year. This is a deviation from what has been practiced by St. Sylvester School for this specific group of students during prior school years. These prior school years were characterized by having two classes which were approximately half the size (give or take) of the current 5th Grade class.
We believe smaller prior class sizes contributed to increased individual student attention, better student behavior and performance, and overall parent/student satisfaction with the St. Sylvester School experience. The current situation of a single 5th grade class of 26 students significantly detracts from the quality education experience that St. Sylvester parents and students have come to expect in exchange for their support of the school, consistent payment of tuition, and engagement in volunteer/fundraising work.
We remain committed to St. Sylvester School and appreciate what the school offers as a whole. However, the 5th grade students are receiving a markedly different education experience than what students in other grades are receiving. Several 5th Grade parent/guardians have raised concerns about the foregoing to Ms. Doyle within recent months. This petition is a proactive effort by 5th grade student parent/guardians to give St. Sylvester School an opportunity to right what we see as a major wrong for our children.
- Large Class Size. The primary issue is the large class size. We believe this single issue contributes to every other issue noted hereafter and impacts both Mr. Linden's classroom (5th Grade Homeroom; Math; Science) as well as Ms. McGillis' classroom (5th Grade Language Arts; Reading; Social Science). We also believe both teachers would much rather have a smaller class size so they can better focus on providing a quality classroom experience.
- Ongoing Discipline Problems. Students have conveyed to their parent/guardians that discipline issues lead to major distractions throughout the instructional day. Additionally, the fact that collective classroom punishment is used at times (e.g. punitive homework, loss of recess or privileges) as a result of classroom disruptions appears reactionary and not reflective of best education practices.
- Academic/Social Concerns. Some 5th grade parent/guardians have noticed a decline in their students’ academic/social performance. This decline is manifested in terms of lower grades for some, inability to focus, frustration, and overall dissatisfaction with their classroom experiences.
- Principal Classroom Presence. Ms. Doyle, as Principal, has had to provide periodic in-class instruction and discipline at several points during the school year to date regarding the foregoing problems. While this represents a temporary solution, it actually leads to other issues which minimizes the authority of classroom teachers. It also contributes to an ongoing atmosphere of chaos.
We understand that St. Sylvester School has considered and implemented several resolutions to the underlying problems to date which include staff training, professional development, and support from DePaul University. Irrespective of the foregoing, the underlying issue is the size of the 5th grade class itself – specifically when one considers that we are paying private school tuition prices for a current educational experience which appears to be comparable to Chicago Public Schools in terms of class size, discipline issues, etc. To this end, we specifically ask for the following resolutions:
- The 5th grade class be divided into two separate classes.
- A meeting between 5th Grade parents/guardians and St. Sylvester School administration to discuss this petition as well as the current solutions St. Sylvester has pursued and is considering pursuing in the future to address 5th grade class size and resultant issues.
- Collective consideration and implementation of strategies to address lowered student Q1 grades resultant from problems related to class size, etc.
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