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What does ratio mean for schools?

To the editor:

The other day when the big headline of the Union Leader was that Manchester schools have many classrooms with 30-plus students, everybody was in a tizzy.

Well, when you know ConVal students per classroom is overing around 5-10, it might shake you up. No wonder our costs are skyrocketing.

Before you flip out, we should first know how the figures are calculated. It could be we are not comparing apples with apples. The Manchester numbers are doable; they actually have many classrooms with 25-30 students. Here at ConVal we have self-imposed guidelines that might suggest we have student-teacher ratios that would generate 20-25 students as doable classroom numbers.

At one school meeting, one of our teachers stood up and said she had 25 students in her classroom. Whether she has traveling assistant specialists or paraprofessionals was not mentioned. There is no mention if paraprofessionals are included in the Manchester data. ConVal does not include any of the 100 paraprofessionals on staff as teachers.

What we do know is when we divide the number of ConVal students by the number of teachers, the figure is less than nine students per teacher. That may not be the same as the number of students per classroom.

There is the belief among some that the number of students a teacher teaches does not impact performance. Add one disruptive kid in the classroom and immediately the performance of the class is altered.

A year ago I heard there are more than 25 languages spoken in Manchester. That must impact what goes on in Manchester classrooms.

Fran Chapman

Peterborough

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