CES reduces class size | PostIndependent.com

CES reduces class size

Suzie Romig
Roaring Fork School District

Teachers and students at Carbondale Elementary School decided mid-term to reduce class sizes in an effort to improve learning and meet the needs of every student.

The change created five new classrooms and reduced student-to-teacher ratios from a norm of 18 or 20 to 1 to as low as 11 to 1.

Approximately 70 of the school’s 382 students were reassigned to new classrooms or teachers, CES principal Anna Delay said. The school is now settling into the smaller classes and gearing up for a year of academic progress, Delay said.

Longtime CES second-grade teacher Tracy Handy said her class size was to be 21 students at the beginning of the year. Now she has 16 students.

“I’ve been teaching for over 10 years, and I’ve never had a class this size, this small,” Handy said. “It’s just amazing.

“I can actually get to every kid during all subjects and spend some one-on-one time. I’m able to spend more time with kids who need and desire enrichment and acceleration, and I’m able to give more time to kids who are struggling with material,” she said.

Andrea Chacos, third-grade teacher, now has a classroom of 13 kids and has noticed a change in shy students.

“Now I’ve seen a couple of these kids completely blossom, raising their hands and sharing,” Chacos said.

The school used existing certified, experienced classroom teachers, who had been assigned to specific English Language Learner teaching duties, to lead the new classes. Administrators said no new teachers were needed. Rather, teacher time is being maximized and resources realigned to reduce the class sizes.

Reducing class sizes might seem like an obvious move, but Roaring Fork School District superintendent Fred Wall said districts are not always able to keep small class sizes due to the high costs.

“Educational research is clear that if class sizes are reduced to 12 to 14 students, that is a great advantage to learning,” Wall said.

District officials say the steps taken this month at Carbondale Elementary are part of an effort to bring the students who are not proficient in reading to grade level or above. That’s a challenge in Carbondale school, where 60 percent of the children are also learning to speak and understand English.

“The demographics of the school require us to change what we had been doing. This is a pro-active step in helping our students become proficient,” CES reading specialist Deb D’Angelo said.

The school had tried other approaches, such as separated instruction to bring students up to required state educational standards. District educators say once the number of students who need special services becomes the majority of learners, pulling children aside for special instruction can prove more disruptive or disconnecting than helpful.

“We need to raise the bar and say ‘all of our kids can do this,'” Handy said. “We have a lot of hard work to do here. We really need the community to stand behind us and say, ‘What can we do to help?'”

The school has hosted meetings to address parent concerns about the changes.

Information: Principal Anna Delay, 384-5651, or adelay@rfsd.k12.co.us.

” Suzie Romig is the public information officer for the Roaring Fork School District.

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