For the past several years, two of the more common claims from the ed reform community are that class size is unimportant to student achievement and that test scores provide an effective way of evaluating teachers and schools. Interviewing for my new job at a French/English bilingual school, I was struck by how much the school deviated from those two central ideas.
When giving my sample lesson for the interview, I taught a class of 19 students. All classes at the school are capped at 20, and many have closer to 15 students. The school website and brochure both advertise this feature.
In addition, during my interview, the headmaster expressed his view that the public schools focused too heavily on test preparation, and that although they used testing to measure student progress, they were not beholden to them- a draw for parents.
Ed reformers have talked a lot in recent years about knowing what works, but it seems to me that when parents choose to opt out of public schools, they opt for precisely the thing that ed reformers say doesn’t matter (small class sizes), and opt out of the testing that the reformers say is so critical for success.