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Compiling the Evidence: Classrooms Can Be Too Crowded to Find Academic Success

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WELA YMCA Youth Institute, is part of the Building Healthy Communities (BHC) initiative funded by The California Endowment.Youth are exploring and investigating how the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) can empower and improve their local school communities.
The community cause our team investigated was the overcrowded classrooms at our school, Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School. This is important because the amount of overcrowding may determining how well a student can learn and understand in a class. Having an overcrowded classroom prevents students from being able to get that one-on-one attention they need when they may be falling behind or have a questions on what they are learning.

Our team, Foxotography, chose this cause because we thought it was something that was relatable specifically in our own school. It becomes very difficult to maintain decent grades or get help from teachers when there is just too many students in one classroom.

While investigating this issue we learned that while having overcrowded classes is a major concern, it may also be bad to have classes that are too small. Mr. Steven Ramos has this dilemma, having as little as five students in some of his math classes at Roosevelt High School. As we are trying to reduce class size, we are not advocating for extremely small classes; it's about having just the right amount of students in a class so students are able to learn from the teacher, but also learn from each other, especially when they need to do group work. Having just the right number is what can make a classroom effective.

We asked a Roosevelt parent, Juana Gutierrez, what she thinks would be an ideal class size. Her response was "Smaller is better, and if I had to pick a number it would be definitely less than 20 because in the end the quality of the teaching is what matters, and not how many students you can teach at once. In a smaller classroom there can be much more order and respect."

Mr. Ramos suggested that the best class size would be 15 or 16 students because it's not too small, and not too big either. In fact, all the teachers we asked, who currently have 20+ students, said they would prefer to have smaller classes because it would make things easier for both them and the students. If they were able to have a better classroom size, students would be able to focus and feel free to ask questions.

Our ideas toward improving this aspect of our school community include hiring more teachers for required subjects that have too few faculty, and distributing the students more evenly where we don't have so many unbalanced classes or periods.

We plan to let people know how great of an impact reducing the classroom size will have on students, and how beneficial it can be for students as they will have more opportunities to achieve academically.

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