Class sizes to shrink - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Class sizes to shrink

April 14, 2006

Albany -- Classroom sizes are about to get a little smaller for public schools. Governor Sonny Purdue has just signed the "Truth in Class Size Act."

The new law will reduce class size for core courses in math, science, social studies, and language arts from kindergarten through middle school.

Beginning next year, first through third graders in those subjects will be limited to 21 students, 28 students for fourth through eighth grade, and kindergarten classrooms will be limited to only 18 students.

We talked to several teachers about the new law, and they say they can't wait until it takes effect.

In Teresa Neff's fifteen years of teaching, she's had as many thirty students in just one class. "With that many students in the classroom it's hard to control and maintain discipline," she says.

Twenty-two students are currently enrolled in her fourth grade class at Jackson Heights Elementary school. Neff says smaller class sizes give her more one-on-one time with students. "You develop a closer relationship with the students. You get to meet the parents and know them better when you have a smaller group of children."

Most importantly she says, smaller classroom sizes benefit the students. "When you have smaller groups you can work and meet the individual needs of students better."

Other teachers, like second grade teacher Fannie Hayes, agrees. "When you have a large group like that, it takes away your time because you have to spend because you have to spend that much more time working with students."

Hayes says the new law will give teachers and opportunity to form stronger bonds with their students. "The teacher will be able to spend time with the students, and they'll be able to spend time in smaller groups doing activities together."

Both teachers agree that by trimming classroom size, students' performance on standardized will greatly improve. "Oh, it will definitely help the test scores go up. and I think we will see a big change in test scores," said Neff.

"I can see our tests just going up to the sky in that sense," Hayes says.

With four months to go, before the new law takes effect, many teachers believe the governor is moving in the right direction in an effort to make education Georgia's top priority.

The average elementary classroom has about 23 students, whereas middle schools currently average about 32 students, and kindergarten classes, 20 students.

While the new law is meant to benefit students, some administrators worry that trimming class size will for them to add more classrooms in order to provide more classrooms.

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=ClassSizes/Nikki