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Research

First grade students writing stories
Students building a tower in engineering
First graders learning about money

The provided research notes offer valuable insights into the educational landscape of Lynchburg City Schools, best practices in education, and recommendations from MGT. These notes underscore the significance of class size, school culture, and school size as critical factors in shaping the educational experience of students. When 70% of the community chose scenario 1 they were stating they wanted small schools, classes, and learning environments.

Small Schools

The school board's first motion was to close Dearington and T. C. Miller Schools of Innovation. Both of these magnet programs are small schools, creating a community that feels secure and like family for students. There is much research, quantitative and qualitative that supports the fact that small schools help student achievement.

A 2010 study of North Carolina schools in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis found that while school size may not change educational outcomes overall, smaller schools do make a big difference for two specific groups: poor students and those with learning disabilities. 

Small Classes

Currently, LCS elementary schools have an average of 17.8

students per class. Research proves that classes between

15-18 students in elementary school have numerous benefits in comparison to 22-25. the district would continue to have these class sizes if they remain below 87% utilization.

 

The current proposal for the revised scenario 3 raises utilization to 90-92%, classes over 22-25 students.

How is this the best thing for the students?

Benefits on Students

  • Project Prime Time highlights that, (1) students in smaller classes scored higher on standardized tests (2) had fewer behavioral problems, and (3) teachers self reported they were more productive and efficient than when they taught larger classes.​

Students with small classes in elementary school have 80% greater odds of graduating from high school

  • The Tennessee STAR (Student-Teacher Achievement Ratio) Research and Report is a prevalent study that highlights the differences in classes with 15-18 students compared to classes with 22-25 students

    • Students in classes between 15-18 students in comparison to classes of 22-25 students have 3 months more quality education in a year. This achievement gap is even larger for Black and low-income students.​

    • For all students combined, 4 years of a small class in K–3 were associated with a significant increase in the likelihood of graduating from high school; the odds of graduating after having attended small classes for 4 years were increased by about 80.0%.

    • Even once the experiment ended and students returned to full-size classrooms, students who had been in the smaller groups continued to benefit. By eighth grade, they were almost a full school year ahead of their peers.

Benefits on Teachers

Lynchburg City Schools' second goal in their comprehensive plan is attracting and attaining highliy qualified teachers. Increasing class sizes does not do this.

 

Emma White Research LLC conducted Launch Michigan in 2019. It surveyed 6,878 Michigan educators. Educators believe that reducing class size would be the best way to improve schools with 85% of teachers in high-poverty urban districts responding this way, far above either expanding pre-K or providing more literacy coaches. Teachers with large classes were also more likely to say they wanted to leave the profession.

These findings are supported through multiple studies and experiences of teachers.

Benefits on the Community

Small classes don't just have a positive impact on students and teachers, they also have a positive impact on the community as a whole.

  • ​Muennig, P., & Woolf, S. H. (2007). Health and Economic Benefits of Reducing the Number of Students per Classroom in US Primary Schools. American Journal of Public Health. “Reducing class sizes may be more cost-effective than most public health and medical interventions, with large savings in health care costs and almost two years of additional life for students who were in smaller classes in the early grades.” ​

  • Smaller class sizes in elementary school save a school district $168,000 in net cost savings and $196,000 for low-income students over a students 13 years in the system.

Students bonding together at T. C. Miller

Students bonding together at T. C. Miller

School Culture

Research from the 'International Journal of Leadership in Education" states that a positive school culture is among the top influences on student achievement. Testimony from successful school principals suggests that focusing on the development of the school’s culture as a learning environment is fundamental to improved teacher morale and student achievement. Strong school cultures have better-motivated teachers. Highly motivated teachers have greater success in terms of student performance and student outcomes. School principals seeking to improve student performance should focus on improving the school’s culture by getting the relationships right between themselves, their teachers, students and parents.

​"We applied to TCM after my son had a bad year at his designated school. His teacher was amazing but the admin was lacking. He was bullied and that caused a lot of behavioral issues at home because he was so frustrated so he went to counseling for a while. His teacher suggested we apply for the magnet schools because he was ahead of his class. Since last year, he has thrived at school. The admin knows him by name and he adores them as they do all the kiddos. It’s been an amazing experience after a bad year of kindergarten." – Rebecca Griffin​

Magnet Schools

T. C. Miller and Dearington Schools of Innovation were opened to increase diversity, opportunities, and resources at schools that served communities of color that have large percentages of members below the poverty line. The city has money provided for the programs through state funding. These schools are proven to have rich cultures and communities, to increase achievement of at-risk students, and attract highly qualified teachers who remain at the school for many years.

  • Additional academic approaches, including charter schools, dual enrollment, magnet schools, and career and technical programs, offer innovative approaches to K-12 education in the U.S. that can provide increased flexibility, autonomy, and accountability.

  • Magnet schools best support students by providing a more focused and immersive learning experience in a particular academic area, which can help students to develop specific skills and interests. Magnet schools also promote diversity and can offer a unique learning environment that is tailored to the needs and interests of students.

  • Magnet school students generally reported more positive academic attitudes and behaviors than students in non-magnet schools, including peer support for academic achievement  and less absenteeism and skipping class 

  • Researchers concluded that “magnet programs are effective tools for attracting and retaining households and students.”

  • Magnet schools were more effective than regular public schools, Catholic or secular private schools at raising student achievement in reading and social studies

  • Teachers are the most predictive school factor related to student performance - magnet school faculties are more stable than non-magnet school faculties

This research highlights various critical aspects of Lynchburg City Schools, primarily focusing on the importance of school size, class size, and magnet schools. Research indicates that smaller schools have a substantial positive impact, especially on the educational outcomes of poor students and those with learning disabilities. Small class sizes are advocated for, given that students in smaller classes tend to perform better on standardized tests and experience fewer behavioral problems. This research and best education practices contradict the school board and administrators' decisions.

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