Sonoma Valley Sun


SV Schools should embrace smaller class size

Posted on March 22, 2023 by Sonoma Valley Sun

The Sonoma Valley School Board Trustees are considering closing or repurposing five schools in the Sonoma Valley including Dunbar Elementary School — the oldest school in the Valley and the second oldest school in California.

As a substitute teacher in the Valley for many years, my experience is that teaching a standard size class of 30 students is a disservice to students as it is difficult to address their individual needs and keep them focused on lessons.  COVID resulted in a knowledge lag of at least a year for many students.  The recent decrease in class sizes of some schools has allowed teachers to spend more individual time with students, something almost impossible in a large classroom size.

Studies show that reductions of 7-10 students per class can have positive long-term effects on student achievement. Studies in California, Minnesota, New York City, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin demonstrated lower class sizes raised test scores.  The effects appeared greatest with elementary students and students from less advantaged family backgrounds.  These are exactly the target populations of the schools that the Sonoma Valley School Board Trustees are considering closing or repurposing.

Instead of closing the proposed schools, I have suggested to the Board to relocate students so there to same number in each school and approximately 15-20 in each class.  The smaller size classes would be more manageable, produce better academic results, and better meet the needs of all students including those behind their grade level.

— Wanda Smith, Sonoma

Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA