This Monday, November 6, the Madison School Board will discuss the MMSD Class Size Policy, and classroom and school staffing in the district. Small class sizes are an evidence-based strategy for improving student outcomes, with minority and low-income students benefiting the most from small classes.
Last June, SCAPE was part of a coalition that successfully advocated for, and won, a budget amendment that addressed growing class sizes in the district. At that time, the school board discussed the need to address this issue through policy change.
The current MMSD Class Size Policy is weak. It specifies a minimum class size of 15 students and a maximum of 30 students, regardless of grade level or the percentage of low-income students in the school. Nonetheless, the MMSD administration has recommended sticking with this policy for the time being, while they work on other priorities.
In addition to improving student outcomes, small class sizes make for a positive learning environment and encourage the development of strong student-teacher relationships that are critical for learning. Moreover, small class sizes help staff manage behavior, student feedback and grading, and make the curriculum accessible and engaging for every student. For these reasons, and more, we are asking the Madison School Board to begin work now on the class size policy.
Please write the school board and ask them to address inequalities in our district by acting on class size (email addresses here). Even better, attend the school board meeting at 5pm in the Doyle Building, and consider making public comments to the board (instructions here).
Here are some points you can make in your email or public comments:
- Class size is one of the most studied education policies. Well-designed research shows that class size reduction can have a positive impact on student achievement. The Tennessee STAR experiment, which is considered the gold standard for class size research, found that math and reading scores improved for all students when they were assigned to smaller classes.
- Research shows that Black students and low income students particularly benefit from smaller classes. A top priority for the district must be providing classroom environments that support our students who need it most.
- Achievement gains from class size reduction aren’t limited to test scores. Students in smaller classes are more engaged and focused, and teachers spend more time on instruction and less time on classroom management.
- Small class sizes can foster inclusive classrooms, good relationships between staff and students, collaboration among staff, greater staff availability for helping students, and a positive school climate.
- The current class size policy is inadequate. Because small class sizes are proven way to boost achievement, the district should not postpone working on a strong class size policy.
- Staff compensation and class size should both be high priorities for the district. MMSD families want experienced, excellent teachers and small classes for their children.
Thank you for speaking up for strong public schools. Together, we can make a difference.
School Community Alliance for Public Education (SCAPE)
Madison Education Collective (MEC)