Friday, August 5, 2011

Size Matters: How Student Teacher Ratios Can Change Lives

With school districts and childcare providers considering budget cuts, classroom size is a major issue for teachers, students and parents

Potentially Huge Classroom Sizes
As the date of going back to school quickly approaches, there’s still a lot of concern about classroom size.

In Cleveland, the school district and teachers are still debating wages and staffing, with the teachers’ union concerned that class sizes could get to 50 or 60 students unless more teachers are hired. Last year, class sizes averaged approximately 35, and with approximately 300 positions still open, it’s no wonder that the union is concerned about upcoming student teacher ratios. Teachers are also worried about overly large classes that would not fit well into classrooms, making their jobs more about “crowd control” rather than teaching and ultimately affecting students’ ability to learn.

Dangerously Low Student Teacher Ratios
It’s not just public schools that are feeling the pressure due to understaffing. Earlier this summer, 3-year-old Naseir Janas Ponders nearly drowned at the Otter Creek Water Park in Greenville, SC. The boy was on a field trip with the teachers of the YMCA of Judson’s Community Center, but he was found floating face down in the water and had to be resuscitated by a passerby at the park. Once saved, sources say it was approximately 45 minutes before the staff from the YMCA had realized. When staff was asked what happened, they stated that they were trying to round up all of the children, and Ponders took off running… but what was done?

Only two YMCA supervisors accompanied approximately 11 children on the field trip, which, according to the S.C Department of Social Services, should have been a 3-to-1 child-to-teacher ratio. While his family is grateful that their little boy is still alive, they blame his near-death on negligence, “Accidents happen. This was not an accident. …it was negligence that nobody was supervising him.”

Thankfully, Ponders is ok, but the whole scenario, including an investigation from the Department of Social Services, could have been avoided with better childcare management. It’s important for childcare directors to manage their staffing levels, and realize an appropriate student teacher ratio, especially for field trips. Now, the Tadpoles Pro app offers increased functionality to help childcare directors manage the amount of staff they need. In addition to seeing attendance based upon data, there’s a new feature for future expected attendance. By using student schedules, enrollment dates, graduation dates and return dates, the Tadpoles Pro app calculates expected student levels, for dates far into the future… all for free!

If you work at a school or childcare provider, do you anticipate your classroom sizes expanding this fall? If so, how do you plan to cope? Let us know by commenting below, or on our Facebook or twitter pages.

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