by Natalya Salganik
With a population of 5,649 students, Brooklyn Technical High School prides itself on academically nurturing the highest amount of bright minds in the state; however, does our 2,640 difference in students to schools like Stuyvesant truly benefit us?
While it’s certainly impressive to have the largest high school alumni foundation in N.Y., the school fails to understand how growing numbers promote a further disconnect between teachers and students, and how the expanding freshman class can continuously chop away at our academic proficiency.
A significantly larger school inevitably leads to an average class size of 32 students, compared to the national average of 24, which often means that teachers don’t have the time to personally help their students. According to Yvonne Mason, a high school teacher writing for the New York Times, “children are constantly learning through the relationships they form with their teachers… [and] these relationships cannot be realized in a room full of 30 students.”
Not surprisingly, according to a NYC School Survey Report taken in 2015-2016, 55% of students at Tech express that their teachers do not notice if they have trouble learning a subject, and 67% feel that teachers do not recognize them when they are upset.
Furthermore, by implementing a smaller class size, there’s great potential for Tech’s students to continuously improve their academics; in fact, a 2005 study by the University at Buffalo reports that students which are immersed into a class of 20 pupils or less for four years have significantly increased mathematical and reading proficiency.
Moreover, smaller classes have been continuously proven to significantly increase the graduation rates of economically disadvantaged students, as indicated by the National Education Association. Interestingly, Tech is home to the largest amount of low-income students across all specialized high school campuses, and this initiative could be the push that’s needed to finally close the 5% gap in our 95% low-income student graduation rate.
However, because the traditional way of reducing class size requires employing more teachers, opponents argue that the notion is far too costly; unfortunately, they’re right, because when Florida implemented the idea, the total cost was over $20 billion.
But Tech doesn’t have to follow this route, because fixing the issue starts with gradually decreasing the size of incoming freshman classes.
Looking at the school’s historical enrollment data shows a steady increase in school size since 2004—1,652 total new kids to be exact—and each year, freshman enrollment creeps upward. But, by increasing the SHSAT cut-off score in order to put a smaller cap on the amount of newly admitted students, Tech can steadily decrease its school size without spending billions of dollars. In the end, that means a smaller class size, personalized attention, and more successful students.