Patriot Perspective: New class size policies hurt level of academics


Caroline Cooney

The administration's new policy, which states that all classes with less than 15 students will be cut, has damaged education for students. Because of this policy, several classes such as AP U.S. Government, Speech, AP German, and Creative Writing have already been cut.

The administration’s most recent attempts to shrink our budget have placed the quality of our education in certain peril. A new policy decrees that any class with less than 15 students will be cut, unless granted an exemption from the powers that be. This policy is not only unreasonable, but also reprehensible.

The new policy, which we shall refer to as the “15 student rule,” primarily impacts electives and classes such as Honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses, as these classes have historically always had less than 15 students. 

We understand that JC is a business and must make sacrifices in order to ensure its economic feasibility, but we can not comprehend the idea that cutting classes is a sacrifice our school is willing to make in order to maintain its finances. We certainly do not understand how the administration can cut classes for the sake of our budget in the same school year that they added two new scoreboards and lights to the turf fields.

If our financial situation is truly so dire, shouldn’t we ensure that we can afford to offer a “challenging college preparatory program” instead of starting fundraising campaigns for new things that we don’t necessarily need?

The administration may have forgotten to consider historical precedence and common sense when making this decision, but it is clear that this decision impacts students who want to challenge themselves and who want to take advantage of the “challenging academics” and the “curricula that foster academic excellence” that JC promises in its mission statement. 

As students prosper in a subject matter, they continue to take more and more advanced classes. As students continue to excel and reach higher levels of academic rigor, fewer and fewer of their classmates have the ability to or the desire to take increasingly advanced classes. As this pattern continues, enrollment in challenging classes, such as AP U.S. Government and AP German, continues to thin out, leaving only the best and the brightest enrolled in certain subjects.

Under the new policy, these intelligent students are prevented from taking full advantage of their academic opportunities, something that does not fall in line with the goals of a college preparatory school or our mission statement.

Not only does this policy deny students the chance to learn about subjects they’re interested in, but it discourages students from signing up for more advanced classes. When the administration discourages students from academically challenging themselves, they send a message, whether intentional or not, that academically rigorous courses are unimportant and unnecessary.

Not only does the new rule cut classes, but it encourages large class sizes, something that could be potentially harmful to the quality of education.

JC prides itself on having small class sizes. The admissions department is fond of boasting that the school has a one teacher to eleven student ratio. The small class sizes that enhance our ability to learn and make this school great are disregarded and destroyed by the administration’s new rule despite the obvious and well-researched facts that prove large classes hurt the quality of education offered.

The National Education Association found that students in small classes, which are classes comprised of 15 or less students, are usually two months ahead of their counterparts in large classes in regards to curriculum. Students in smaller classes also score significantly higher on standardized tests, like the SAT or the ACT, than their counterparts.

Small class sizes help students not only master material, but also do well on the standardized tests that almost 95 percent of colleges require during the admission process, according to the National Association for College Counseling. As a college preparatory school, we should be doing everything in our power to prepare our students for all aspects of attending college, including the application process.

We don’t wish to drive our school into bankruptcy, but we want the administration to rescind the 15 student rule and to refocus its priorities when allocating funds. We appreciate the school’s efforts to revitalize and improve our athletic facilities, but this institution is not an athletic complex. It’s a school. This fact may be obvious to all of us, but we need to start budgeting like one.

Before we create capital campaigns for a new bus, renovations inside the school, new lights or even a new turf field, we need to ensure that the academic rigor of our school is financially feasible for the current school year and the school years to come.

Beyond all else, it is pertinent that the curriculum offered is the most academically challenging it can be, even if that means sacrificing some renovations or additions to our athletic facilities.

We attend JC because it offers us a high quality education. The administration’s new policy prevents students from pursuing academic challenges and from receiving the highest quality education JC can offer. To ensure that our school fulfills the promises it makes in its mission statement and to ensure that our school provides every student with a challenging, high-quality education, the administration needs to revoke its new policy regarding class sizes.