I attended a meeting today with one of the assistant principals about the size of classes around the building and in English in particular. We have six classes around the building overloaded. In English we have 15 classes overloaded, all Freshmen and Sophomores.
The district has decided to simply add a credit retrieval class during the day to take 30 students out of the Sophomore English classes. This means that instead of those students getting instruction from a teacher for the Freshman English class they failed, they will sit at a computer with an online program to complete.
Here are my concerns:
a) The core classes are still massively overcrowded. Class sizes have risen from an average of 26 to 32 in five years.
b) The students in the credit retrieval class will not be instructed by a teacher but learning from an online program. We have data showing this sets them up for failure because they don’t get the aligned curriculum, so they often fail the next course in the sequence. The online courses do not have the rigor and do not align with our curriculum.
c) The teacher conducting the credit retrieval is a math teacher, not an English teacher. Regardless, he won’t be assessing student work anyway; the computer company does that. Essentially he just helps students keep going, so the kids get no extra help.
d) This is a stop-gap measure hoping that fewer students enroll next year.
Besides hiring more teachers I’m not sure what the answer is, but I know this isn’t it.
The cynic in me says to let the state test scores drop this year to get the district’s and community’s attention, but this would hurt the kids. When teachers work extra hours with the larger classes and keep the scores up, no one feels compelled to intervene. However, we’re reaching a breaking point.
Next Monday’s final student count meeting will be interesting.