The Instigator
s_nuki
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
bluesteel
Con (against)
Winning
18 Points

Reducing of class sizes is good idea

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/15/2011 Category: Education
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,923 times Debate No: 18355
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (5)

 

s_nuki

Pro

Firstly, I want to say about 2 main points, witch cart this idea:

1.Test scores better than in normal-sized classes
Small-sized classes give more benefits, because of teaching every student individually; how researches show this type of studying has better results in different examinations. Students in small classes are writing different examinations and tests better than students in normal-sized classes, because of lack of interruption by otheer students.

2.Good preparation to public life
Small-sized classes can give more experience for students, before they will graduate. This way of studying is better to prepare pupils in kindergarten or grade school to high school by teaching some rules and regulations.

So, a supporter of this point of view, Michael Klonsky, a Professor of Education at the University of Illinois, said, - "A compelling body of research shows that when students are part of smaller and more intimated learning communities, they are more successful".
bluesteel

Con

Thanks for the debate snuki.

Jay P Greene in the book Education Myths debunks the two myths my opponent is discussing: that more money leads to education gains and that smaller class sizes lead to education gains.

Greene writes "For twelfth grade students, who represent the end product of the education system, NAEP scores are basically flat over the past thirty years." [1] The NAEP is the national test administered by the Department of Education.

Greene goes on to say that during this same time period, inflation-adjusted spending per pupil doubled from $4500 to $8700. [1] Also, during the same period class size decreased from 22.3 students to 15.9 students. [2] Both these things happened WITH NO RESULTANT INCREASE in NAEP scores. Greene attributes the failure to increase student achievement to money going to bureaucracy and construction projects, rather than to student learning, and the impetus to hire more teachers leading to the hiring of a lot of bad teachers.

Eric Hanushek, an education researcher at Stanford, explains that if you have money to hire additional teachers, you're better off paying more money to higher BETTER teachers rather than MORE teachers. Bigger class sizes and better teachers result in more student learning than small class sizes and worse (or even "average" teachers). According to Hanushek, "Teacher effects are also much stronger than class-size effects. You'd have to cut the average class almost in half to get the same boost that you'd get if you switched from an average teacher to a teacher in the eighty-fifth percentile." [3]

So we should not decrease class sizes because it has historically done nothing and if we have the money to hire additional teachers, we should instead create incentive schemes, like merit pay and higher starting salary, that attract BETTER teachers rather than MORE teachers.

More is not equivalent to better.

Negated

==Rebuttal==

R1) Test scores are better

This has already been refuted; the decrease in class sizes has failed to raise NAEP scores. My opponent cites no study here.

R2) Good preparation for public life

Kids in larger classrooms get the same boundaries and limitations as kids in small classrooms. In fact, the "bad teachers" are the ones who provide very little guidance and few boundaries (bad teachers have been caught reading newspapers in class rather than teaching), so it's better to have a good teacher to learn boundaries than have a small class.

Also, in college, class sizes are larger. Good teachers and larger classes are a better preparation for later life. A bigger class forces students to learn how to work on their own to solve problems. If class sizes are too small, students are coddled too much by teachers always helping them, rather than letting them work problems out on their own, much the same way that mothers of single-children are statistically more overprotective.

[1] page 10
[2] page 16
[3] http://www.gladwell.com...
Debate Round No. 1
s_nuki

Pro

Thanks.

Anyway, if classrooms and schools are to be places where students' personal and learning needs
are met, they should be small. Different debates on this theme show that: Students in schools with large populations of disadvantaged students perform least well on standardized assessments. Evidence also suggests that these schools often have the least-experienced teachers (NCTAF, 1996; Roza, 2001). >>> So, educators and policy-makers are looking for different strategies that will enable students to succeed on the new assessments and, that will increase students' learning opportunities. Small classes and small schools can be two such strategies.

Furthermore, interest in class size and school size is important also in society. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has dedicated more than $250 million to reducing the size of U.S., high schools. The U.S. Department of Education has committed $125 million to fund small-school initiatives. In Boston, Chicago, and New York, small-school initiatives are increasing. Small-school associations, organised to support the change from comprehensive high schools to smaller learning communities, are springing up everywhere and include New Visions for Learning in New York, the Small Schools Workshop in 'Chicago (Illinois), the Small Schools Project in Seattle (Washington), and the Bay Area Coalition of Essential Schools in Oakland (California).

So, some research shows that kids in larger classrooms have different disadvantages, which really interfere from studying:
● Large classes don't have good management strategies which decrease the quality of education.
● Large classes overcrowded whichase the quality of education, too.
● Not all students have classroom practice.
● Pupils' behaviour isn't good, because of different surroundings influence.
● Teacher in large classes has more load and stress.
=>>>> Day et al. (1996) review of class size research.

And some facts, which another researches show:
● In small classes prevails individualisation, that's why quality of teaching and studying is better.
● In small classes curriculum coverage organised better.
● Pupil in small classes pays more attention to teacher.
● In small classes teacher managing pupils' behaviour.
● There are more time and space for work.
● Small classes have better pupil-pupil and pupil-teacher relations.
=>>>> Blatchford and Mortimore (1994) review of their analysis of class size (pp. 423–425)

And there are another research, which shows advantages of small classes:
● more physical space;
● opportunity of group practices;
● establishment of routines;
● classroom discipline;
● tasks and the curriculum;
● teacher–pupil interaction and knowledge of children;
● teacher stress and enthusiasm;
● atmosphere/ethos;
● assessment and record keeping;
● pupil adjustment and peer relations;
● relationships with parents;
● special educational needs.
=>>>> Blatchford & Martin (1998)
bluesteel

Con

Thanks for the quick response snuki.

==Rebuttal==

R1) My opponent says, "Students in schools with large populations of disadvantaged students perform least well on standardized assessments. Evidence also suggests that these schools often have the least-experienced teachers (NCTAF, 1996; Roza, 2001)."

Not only do disadvantaged schools attract the least-experienced teachers, who often transfer to better schools if they prove themselves to be good teachers, but the dance of the lemons results in the WORST teachers being transferred to disadvantaged schools. Rather than paying to put more BAD teachers in disadvantaged schools to reduce class sizes, we should adopt measure like "adversity pay," which pays teachers significantly more for working in more difficult schools. This is the only way to get good teachers in bad inner city schools. Since money is finite in the education system, it's really one or the other, and Hanushek clearly shows that a better teacher is better than decreasing class sizes (you have to cut class sizes in HALF to equal the effect of replacing a 50th percentile teacher with a 75th percentile teacher). So money spent on teacher quality is comparatively TWICE as effective as decreasing class sizes.

R2) Small schools initiatives

First, small schools do NOT mean small class sizes. The goal of the small school movement is to aim for high schools of 400 students or less to foster a feeling of community. BUT if a small school of 400 has 16 teachers and a school of 1200 has 48 teachers, they will have the exact same CLASS SIZES, even though the first school is smaller. So small schools DOES NOT EQUAL small class sizes. You can agree that smaller schools would be good and still negate, saying should focus more on teacher quality than hiring more teachers. Small schools has more to do with sub-dividing the teachers and students that are already in the system, not hiring more teachers. For example, if you had a school with 800 students and 32 teachers and you subscribed to the small school movement, then you would divide this school into two schools of 400 students and 16 teachers each. This does not affect class size.

Second, there are advantages to larger schools, namely economies of scale. Larger schools have the budgets for much better extracurricular activities and facilities for sports. "Large schools tend to have higher test scores and a wider diversity of course offerings, as well as more clubs, arts programs, higher performing sports teams, and other extracurricular activities such as school newspapers and social events. Some schools have abandoned the small school approach after failures to overcome these difficulties, even after being offered grants to continue these experiments." [1]

Third, my opponent mentions that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supports small schools. Just because they support something doesn't make it good. They also support merit pay, which would be a better use of money than reducing class sizes. Merit pay provides an incentive for good teachers to stay and bad teachers to leave. In fact, in Texas' merit pay system, the leave rate of the top tier teachers was reduced and the leave rate for the worst teachers was increased. Lastly, the Seattle Times reports that because small schools are failing to yield better test scores, the Gates Foundation is abandoning its sponsorship of this solution to education problems in large high schools; they are instead working more directly on instruction, giving grants to find better teachers in math and science. [2]

R3) Three "studies" that small classrooms are better

My opponent talks about the inputs to education – that students pay more attention, etc. Firstly, I don't even know how you study how much attention students pay. In fact, I think all three studies are based on theorizing, NOT actual observation.

But in addition, if students are paying more attention and learning more in small classrooms, why do studies of learning OUTCOMES fail to show any real improvement in test scores in small classrooms. Why do larger high schools get better test scores than smaller ones? Why did Hanushek find that investing in better teachers yields TWICE the results of investing in smaller class sizes? Why did class sizes decrease from 22 students per teacher to 16 students per teacher over the last 30 years and yet NAEP scores have failed to improve one iota?

It's because there aren't enough good teachers to begin with and spreading students out into smaller classes just spreads the good teachers even thinner. If my school only had one really good Physics teacher, for example, I'd rather have larger class sizes but everyone in the school having the good teacher (during 6 different "periods") than forcing the school to hire another Physics teacher who isn't any good and then FORCE half the students to attend the bad teacher's class rather than the good teacher's class. Good teachers are already spread too thin – don't spread them even thinner.

Oh yeah, and Pro fails to refute anything I've said.

Vote Con.

[1] http://tinyurl.com...
[2] http://tinyurl.com...
Debate Round No. 2
s_nuki

Pro

Firstly, my opponent says: "Small schools do NOT mean small class sizes."

Anyway, in this debate we are talking about reducing of class sizes, and I know that if we want to reduce class size, and in that way we need to teach more students, we should build more education places, which can be connected with different financial troubles. But, now, it's not main problem, main problem is - EDUCATION LEVEL. So, if we need to have high scores in education, we should reduce small classe, which can increase education level by different factors, which i published before.

Secondly, my opponent says: "There are advantages to larger schools, namely economies of scale. Larger schools have the budgets for much better extracurricular activities and facilities for sports. "Large schools tend to have higher test scores and a wider diversity of course offerings, as well as more clubs, arts programs, higher performing sports teams, and other extracurricular activities such as school newspapers and social events. Some schools have abandoned the small school approach after failures to overcome these difficulties, even after being offered grants to continue these experiments."

In this statement my opponent takes into account only the factors affecting the financial problems, but no problem of education level in the country.

Finally, my opponent says: "If my school only had one really good Physics teacher, for example, I'd rather have larger class sizes but everyone in the school having the good teacher (during 6 different "periods") than forcing the school to hire another Physics teacher who isn't any good and then FORCE half the students to attend the bad teacher's class rather than the good teacher's class. Good teachers are already spread too thin – don't spread them even thinner."

All we know about defferent humanity factors, so, if we have really good teacher, we should give him good students. If not, this teacher may lose stimulation to teaching. Because of bad behaviour of students and their distraction. (i mean "herd mentality")

Thanks for debate.. It was my first experience. :D
bluesteel

Con

Thanks for the debate snuki.

==Rebuttal==

In response to my argument that small schools don't mean small classes because you could have a smaller school without hiring additional teachers, my opponent says that we should be building new facilities. This doesn't answer the original argument. You could believe in the small school movement and still Vote Con. Also, this proves my point that if we have extra money, it should go to adversity pay, merit pay, higher starting salaries, and other measures to attract higher quality teachers, rather than building a bunch of nice new buildings. New buildings don't teach students; good teachers do.

My opponent says something about education level, but that term doesn't have any meaning to me. And my opponent has still yet to provide a single study that smaller class sizes increase test scores, whereas I provide evidence that test scores are higher in larger schools than in smaller schools.

My opponent's last responds to my argument that smaller class sizes, without increasing teacher quality, just spread good teachers too thin. His response is, "if we have really good teacher, we should give him good students." That was my point; if you have a really good teacher, give that teacher as many students as possible. Rather than having him teach classes of 10 students, he should be teaching classes of 25, rather than forcing GOOD students into a DIFFERENT classroom with a brand new teacher who isn't as good, all in the name of reducing class sizes. If you take my opponent's argument to its logical extreme, the ideal teaching environment is where the student to teacher ratio is 1:1. But imagine what that would do to teacher quality; each student would receive individual attention, but most of them from someone who nearly flunked out of community college. In contrast, the 99th percentile teachers, even though they are the MOST INCREDIBLE TEACHERS IN THE SYSTEM would only be able to impart wisdom on ONE STUDENT EACH SEMESTER. This is clearly the worst possible system and underutilizes scarce resources, i.e. good teachers.

My opponent never answers my refutations to the 3 studies that it is just speculation, not actual observation, and that OUTCOME measures show no improvement.

Ultimately, my opponent never answers my Jay P Greene evidence that although class sizes have decreased from 22 students-per-teacher to 16 students-per-teacher over the past 30 years (and spending per pupil has DOUBLED), NAEP scores remain FLAT. We have spent a lot more money and hired 30% more teacher-per-student and STILL there is no improvement. This clearly proves that class size reductions do not increase academic outcomes because hiring new teachers, without changing incentive schemes, just floods the system with a disproportionate number of bad teachers.

Remember the Eric Hanushek evidence that to equal the increase in education quality that you get from going from a 50th percentile, average teacher, to a 75th percentile teacher you'd have to cut class sizes in HALF. So if we have extra money, we should funnel it into incentive schemes, like adversity pay, merit pay, and higher starting salaries to attract the best and the brightest into the teaching profession, rather than using the same incentive schemes that fail to attract enough good teachers and then trying to hire MORE teachers (in order to reduce class sizes) from this pool of average-to-poor quality teachers.

In fact, look comparatively at how effective money would be. If a starting salary for teachers was $22,000, we could either hire one additional teacher OR offer raises of $7,000 to the 3 best teachers in the school. If we had 50 students and 3 teachers, hiring one more teacher decreases class sizes from 16 to 12.5, OR we could attract (or keep) 3 really good teachers for those substantial $7,000 raises. So not only is getting a higher quality teacher more effective than a class size decrease, but it is also CHEAPER, since giving raises is cheaper than paying another full-time salary. So money goes farther in a merit pay system than when decreasing class sizes.

Lastly, remember the evidence that in Texas' merit pay system, the leave rate of the best teachers declined (by around 10%) and the leave rate of the worst teachers increased (by around 30%). This is exactly what we want – an incentive scheme that rewards good teachers and punishes bad ones, convincing good teachers that they can earn a decent living as a teacher (compared to what a smart person could instead earn in the private sector) and convincing bad teachers that they will not get raises for doing absolutely nothing, like they do under the current salary schedule (where you get a raise every few years merely for not dying).

So because every standing study in this debate shows that lowering class sizes costs a lot of money, has NO academic benefits, and has opportunity costs, where the money could be better spent to incentive good teachers, I urge a Con vote.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Con also points out the economies of scale of larger schools. Overall, the deciding point was that Pro never attacks the core of Con's argument which was that better teachers are more important than small classes. I would like to have seen Pro attack the premise of who are better teachers? How effective are they? etc. A good effort by Pro however.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by curious18 5 years ago
curious18
s_nukibluesteelTied
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Reasons for voting decision: s_nuki, sources will always help and don't drop any of your opponent's arguments.
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
s_nukibluesteelTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro never refutes Con's argument that large classes prepare students for later life and that no improvements have been made by reducing class size. I would point out that children are not adults. In college they are mature enough to benefit even in a large class but such is not the case when they are children. That is irrelevant to my vote of course as no such arguments were made. I think Pro missed a good opportunity to win here. It is easy to prove that small classes are the way to go. (cont)
Vote Placed by kohai 5 years ago
kohai
s_nukibluesteelTied
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Reasons for voting decision: PRO didn't provide sources as CON did And PRO conceded the Greene study
Vote Placed by nerdykiller 5 years ago
nerdykiller
s_nukibluesteelTied
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Reasons for voting decision: s_nuki nice first try! Still like blackvoid said u dropped the Greene study. Also u didnt cite ur sources..
Vote Placed by BlackVoid 5 years ago
BlackVoid
s_nukibluesteelTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro drops the Greene study. There's other points in the round, but assuming Pro has the BoP, the Greene study pretty much ends the debate.