Reduce class sizes

We are writing in support of Article 14, which would reduce class size in Amherst (PreK-8) schools. We have seen first-hand the effect of larger class sizes and the impact on students in our schools. Amherst currently has the 3rd highest class size in NH for Grades 3&4 and the 7th highest class size in Grades 1&2.

Best practices in teaching and learning require individual interaction. Larger class sizes reduce small group and one to one instructional time with students. The positive effect of smaller class on student learning is supported by research and confirmed by our experience in the classroom. Last year we had class sizes up to 24 students, this year we have an average of 18 students per class. The difference is substantial. Larger class sizes interfere with students’ ability to learn at the regularity and level of depth required by our curriculum.

That curriculum incorporates hands-on, real live problem solving and exploration. Performance tasks, STEM work, workshop models for literacy instruction, incorporating more movement, adequate materials and group work are all negatively impacted by larger class sizes, and the classroom space limitations posed by older buildings are also magnified with larger classes.

We want our students to be successful in first grade and beyond. Smaller class size makes a positive impact at the lower grade levels, and those positive experiences help define students’ view and attitude towards school for years to come. As professional educators, we support the Amherst School Board’s effort to reduce class sizes and we urge support for Article 14.