How Many is Too Many?

Elizabeth Kirchner, Reporter

Regardless of the population in any given class, it is difficult to impart knowledge to students, and as students grow classes become more and more difficult. Many students even choose to take Advanced Placement classes. Some offered at Wantagh are AP Seminar, AP European History, AP World History and AP Biology. I am enrolled in AP Seminar and AP Euro. In AP Seminar, both class periods are densely packed. So how many students are in AP classes are just too many?

In my AP Seminar class there are 25 students. In the other period there are 27 students. In my AP Euro class there are 25 students, while in the other period there are 22 students. In AP World there are a whopping 43 students total. In AP Bio there are 21 students total. So, how do these high numbers affect learning?

AP seminar is taught by two teachers: Teacher A and Teacher B. The class is so much larger than what would be optimal. My class is never rowdy and rarely misbehaves, but sometimes giving information to 25 students at a time can be troubling. Likewise, grading large projects becomes a daunting task. According to Brookings Research Center of Educational Data Presidents Matthew M. Chingos and Grover J. Whitehurst, “It appears that very large class-size reductions, on the order of magnitude of 7-10 fewer students per class, can have significant long-term effects on student achievement and other meaningful outcomes.”  In my Seminar class it is hard to personally relate to any topic my teachers are teaching because they are also trying to get 24 other students to relate.

When AP Seminar teachers A and B were asked how our large class sizes affect their ability to teach, Teacher A claimed, “the size of the AP Seminar classes make it difficult for the teaching team to give the amount and quality of feedback to students we traditionally have given. I also don’t feel like I can get to know my students as well as I usually do, which is one of my favorite things about teaching Seminar.” With these larger class sizes, teachers aren’t able to teach! “With a class like AP Seminar where individualized instruction is so vital to student success, large class sizes can hurt students entering an already difficult program,” Teacher A added. Teacher B said, “I would say it has had a negative impact. I have had a difficult time spending individual time with each student and group. I have also noticed that students are less likely to participate in my larger classes; I feel it is intimidating for them.” AP Seminar is supposed to be a class where students feel free to speak their voices and opinions. With these larger class sizes, students get stripped from that advantage to learn how to speak amongst others.

Leading up to the components for the final AP score, each teacher gives feedback to help students make their presentations and papers more impactful. As a student looking toward the future of this class and program, I would much rather a smaller class so I can get that better attention from my teachers. If there were to be one more class added to a course like AP Seminar, class sizes would significantly drop for the better of the students and the teachers. What can the Wantagh School District do to solve this problem?