The elementary school my girls go to recently underwent a huge renovation to accommodate predicted growth in our area. In addition to the growth, about 100 kids are being redistricted to our school because the other local school is overcrowded. Our school will be opening with over 500 kids this fall, a much larger population than we’ve had in the past.
We’ll have four or five classrooms per grade level, around 90 kindergarten students, and a bloated third grade with over 95 third graders. Any way you look at it, that’s a big school, especially at the elementary level! On average, research summaries indicate that the most effective size for an elementary school is in the range of 300-400 students.
As an educator, I’m worried about my kids going to such a big school. I’m familiar with the challenges facing large schools , among them lower achievement, increased behavior problems, less opportunities for teachers to collaborate, less interaction between teacher and student. I know those problems are of greater concern for large middle and high schools, but they can be issues within elementary schools, too.
Our principal is great, and she’s already thought through natural subdivisions across grades and physical spaces. The school will be divided into different regions, and the kids will interact mostly with kids from one or two other grade levels. Assemblies and performances will be divided into two sessions. Teacher planning time will be coordinated so that grade-level and cross-grade level planning can occur. I know she’ll do everything she can to make this a smooth transition and a great learning environment for all kids. There’s just so many kids!
Stay tuned this year as we experience this larger school setting! And please share any experience you’ve teaching or sending your kids to a large (or small) school.