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WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

WA teachers share impact of class sizes amidst possible budget cuts

German+teacher+Herr+Welch+sits+down+to+have+a+whole+class+discussion+in+a+packed+classroom.
Katie McDermott
German teacher Herr Welch sits down to have a whole class discussion in a packed classroom.

As the potential for budget cuts hang over Westford Public Schools, the current classroom setup will see future changes if the override is not passed this upcoming spring. On Dec. 18, Principal Dan Twomey presented WA’s department cuts if the town does not vote for an override. The presentation gave a summary of the combining and cutting of different classes WA will face.

One of the major effects that classroom settings will see if the override isn’t passed is the increase in class sizes and student to teacher ratios, which would become 30:1. The possible cuts will lessen the number of teachers and classes at WA, cramming more students into fewer classrooms. Many WA teachers prefer smaller class sizes, ranging from 14-20 students, but the potential cuts would make this highly unlikely in WA’s future.

WA History teacher Christopher Connole has smaller groups of students in his classes this year and feels it positively affects his teaching style and classroom environment.

“I have found that my ability to reach students, keep track of student progress, meet with individual students, differentiate different student and class needs, assign work and get work back with instructive comments in a timely fashion has greatly increased due to the lower class size and overall lower class numbers that I have this year,” Connole said. “I believe this is all due to the lower class sizes that I have.”

All WA students are required to take a language class for at least two of their four years of high school. For students, learning a different language can be a long process that requires more practice and teacher feedback. 

French teacher Katrina Lackner explains that for many world language classes, the increase of number of students per class will negatively affect their learning. With the potential of having nearly 30 students in a language class will make it difficult for students to receive the proper feedback from teachers and one-on-one conversations.

“Language proficiency is based on four skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking,” Lackner said. “With less time to practice these skills and receive feedback, it is logical to conclude that proficiency would take longer to build in a larger class, ultimately impacting the level of language proficiency acquired by the completion of a course sequence.”

German teacher Tim Welch has similar views as Lackner on how it is more beneficial for students to learn in a more controlled classroom environment with fewer students.

“It absolutely is not the best thing for students learning to be in big classes because in order to learn a language effectively, you have to use it,” Welch said. “Language is about communication, and you have to be communicating in class. It is difficult as the teacher to give everybody equal attention and be able to work on their skills enough when you have 30 kids in a class.”

Math teacher Cheri Fisher tends to have larger class sizes and she has noticed it is more difficult to have a controlled environment when the class size is larger. A main problem that teachers with larger class sizes tackle is not being able to cover as much content. According to Fisher, it is more manageable to have everybody settled down and focused when the classroom setting is controlled.

“Checking everyone’s homework, getting everyone to settle down, keeping track of late work that students owe or missed assessments that need to be made up, […] all of that takes longer with larger classes and detracts from productive class time,” Fisher said. “The larger the class, the more likely that at least one student is absent every class, which means we are constantly dealing with make-up work and keeping students up to speed.”

Welch further explains that having personal connections with teachers is one of the most important and beneficial relationships a student can have. These relationships are built when fewer students are in a class and they receive a proper amount of support and attention.

“What makes a good class is when you have a strong connection with the teacher and your classmates to the point where you feel like a family,” Welch said. “When a class becomes packed to the brim with thirty or more kids, you’re not going to be able to have that special experience.”

Student Opinions on Class Sizes:

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Victoria Farley, Sports Editor
Hi! My name is Victoria Farley and I am a sophomore here at Westford Academy. This is my second year as a Ghostwriter and I am looking forward to this year as one of the Sports Editors. I enjoy writing and communicating with others, which is why being a Ghostwriter is perfect for me. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, and playing basketball.

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