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Increasing Class Size: A Problem or Solution?

Classes+have+been+getting+bigger+and+bigger+each+year
Classes have been getting bigger and bigger each year

Classes have been getting bigger and bigger each year

Sydney McMahon

Sydney McMahon

Classes have been getting bigger and bigger each year

Sofie Dalton, Sentry Staff Reporter

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Large class sizes and overcrowding are nothing new to students, parents and teachers in Arlington County Public Schools (APS). Student enrollment has rapidly been growing in Arlington for the past ten years, and the effects of overcrowding are spilling into the classroom. As the amount of students grow, class sizes increase. Some view large class sizes as a non-capital option (where money is not expended) to solving overcrowding, while others see it as a detriment and disadvantage to students.

According to the 2017-26 Capital Improvement Plan, since the 2005-6 school year, APS enrollment has grown by 6,827 students. Enrollment is continuing to grow, this school year by 709 students, and by the 2025-26 school year it is predicted that enrollment will have grown by 6,655 students, leaving a 4,600 permanent seat deficit in APS.

The Capital Improvement Plan seeks long and short term solutions to the issue of overcrowding. Some of the solutions are capital and some are non capital. Capital options are permanent additions to APS, such as relocatable trailers, additions to existing school buildings, new buildings on existing sites and construction to existing buildings. According to APS, non-capital options increase school capacity by maximizing the use of existing space. One of the non-capital options is increasing class size.

There are pros and cons to increasing class size. Large class sizes can present challenges for both teachers and students. With more students in a class, it may take teachers longer to grade projects, tests and other assignments. It could be more challenging to give each individual student the amount of attention they may need. On the student side, a large class can make it harder to ask the teacher individual questions. Students also may not be able to get to know their teacher as well in a large class. For students with special learning needs, a large class may not be be suitable to address all of their needs.

Despite the negatives of increasing class sizes, there are some positives that need to be looked at in the solution to overcrowding. Large classes are workable and can still be dynamic and engaging for students. This year I am in the largest class that I have ever been in, and I have not found it detrimental to my learning. My teacher still finds time to answer my individual questions and to help me with my work. In addition, students in Arlington still receive a superb education. Amid the frustration of the overcrowding issue, we forget how fortunate we are to be a part of such a great school district. The education we receive is better than that which most of the world and most of the country receives. Even though increasing class size may not be an ideal solution, it is not an impossible situation.

Increasing class size is a part of the solution to overcrowding, at least in the short term. APS is trying to build new school buildings to address this issue. They have also redistricted students to try to balance enrollment at different schools, and are looking to redistrict more students in the coming years. Relocatable trailers have been placed around many school buildings. Capital options are only partial solutions to overcrowding because schools are still overcrowded despite additions and trailers. There is no perfect solution to overcrowding, and APS has to do what is best for students as a whole. While increasing class size is not the ideal solution to overcrowding, there is only room for so many new schools to be built in Arlington.

Overcrowding can present frustrations for everyone involved, but at the end of the day we have to remember how lucky we are to not only be in a country where everyone has the opportunity to go to school, but to be in a county where we get one of the best educations in the country. Instead of complaining about overcrowding, people should work together to present new solutions and listen to others’ solutions. There is no solution that will make everyone happy, so we need to be open to solutions that are not our first choice. As a school district we need to continue to search for new and innovative ways to deal with overcrowding. As parents and students we need to be understanding and helpful, rather than overcritical and disagreeable. We all need to realize that, while overcrowding is an issue that we need to solve, we are still so incredibly lucky to get to be a part of an incredible school system and to receive a more than quality education.

 

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Increasing Class Size: A Problem or Solution?