How will we support teachers in meeting diverse needs for learners?
Teachers develop skills in differentiating to meet student needs in their teacher preparation programs and hone those skills with every year of experience in the classroom. They also work in Professional Learning Communities to share expertise and plan together. Our teachers differentiate learning daily; even if students are homogeneously grouped, those students still have different needs. However, if teachers feel they would like to have additional training, we offer professional development and support throughout the year.
Is differentiation unrealistic in classes of 30-50 students?
The topic of class size and its impact on student achievement has received a lot of attention nationally from researchers and educators. Our Board and Budget Committee have a shared value of lowering class size in Hillsboro. Larger class sizes create challenges for students and staff in our schools on a number of levels. The bottom line is that the quality of teaching and the engagement of students in relevant, rigorous learning opportunities are more predictive factors in student success than class size. In other words, even in schools with large class sizes, highly effective teachers and highly engaged students can overcome the potentially negative impact of overcrowded classrooms.
That said, we don't want to minimize the challenge of meeting the instructional needs of all students in large classes. Our teachers work very hard to serve all our students’ needs; we will continue to improve our teaching and learning in Hillsboro. We will also continue to invest in lowering teacher to student ratios at every level as funding allows.