Guilford Middle School Building Project
Bill Quirk's Handout for the November 25, 2002 Guilford BOE Public
The Adams classroom capacity exceeds the replacement building's classroom
The proposed replacement for Adams will offer 35 classrooms, configured
as 7 "pods," with each pod offering 5 classrooms.
The capacity will be 875, if we assume 25 students per room.
The median classroom size is 750 square feet, or 30 square feet per student
for a class of 25.
According to the Fletcher Thompson floor plans for Adams, there are 42
classrooms. If we divide the largest two in half and then take the
next 31 largest, we get 35 classrooms that are comparable to the 35 pod
classrooms in the proposed replacement building.
The capacity for these 35 Adams classrooms will be 875 students, if we
assume 25 per room.
The median classroom size is 756 square feet.
If we require 30 square feet per student, the remaining 9 Adams classrooms
can accommodate another 117 students.
If we require 30 square feet per student in every classroom, and limit
class size to 25 for every classroom, Adams can accommodate 912 students
in 44 classrooms.
What's the problem? No pods and the number of employees who expect
How many employees expect office space now? How many 10 years ago?
In the Nov. 20 SLT, Mrs. Truex said “you can almost always find research
on both sides”
She should show us the research on her side about the value of classroom
She should show us the pros and cons for pods. Let's see some cons
Without knowledge of relevant research, we are easily misled.
For example, it's widely believed that reducing class size improves academic
achievement. Over the last 52 years, this nation has paid hundreds
of billions to reduce class size by 40%. What does research say?
In The Evidence
on Class Size, Stanford Professor Eric A. Hanushek summarized
277 studies comparing class size to student performance. Fifteen
percent of these studies showed improved achievement, primarily before
grade three. Thirteen percent showed a decline in achievement.
Why? Academic achievement is a function of a more important variable, the
quality of the teacher. Reducing class size requires hiring
teachers that we wouldn't otherwise hire.
What qualifies as research? See Effects
of Building Change on Indicators of Student Academic Growth
as another example of high quality education research.
If Adams Becomes Town Property, is it a Major Gift
or a Major Financial Burden?
At the Nov. 18th Board of Finance meeting, Mrs. Truex stated that
the annual Adams maintenance costs are $183,000. But that figure
didn't include salaries. What's that number?
The Board of Education found it too expensive to renovate Adams for their
needs. What will it cost to renovate for town needs? Seven
million for half of the 90,000 square feet? If this middle
school building project is approved, it's not likely that Guilford voters
will quickly pass another major building project to renovate Adams.
What will happen then with this landmark building?
Excerpts from the The
Evidence on Class Size
We have extensive experience with class size reduction and it has NOT worked.
Between 1950 and 1995, pupil-teacher ratios fell by 35 percent. While we
do not have information about student achievement for this entire period,
the information that we have from 1970 for the National Assessment of Educational
Progress (NAEP) indicates that our 17-year-olds were performing roughly
the same in 1996 as in 1970. There are some differences by subject area,
but the overall picture is one of stagnant performance.
With close to 300 separate estimates of the effect of class size, there
is no reason to expect performance improvements from lowering class sizes.
Moreover, because of the controversial nature of these conclusions, they
have been carefully scrutinized and the policy conclusions remain unaffected.
Considerable evidence shows that by far the largest differences in the
impact of schools on student achievement relate to differences in the quality
The largest impediment to any constructive change in schools is that nobody
in today’s schools has much of an incentive to improve student performance.
Excerpts from Effects
of Building Change on Indicators of Student Academic Growth
Copyright 2002 William G. Quirk, Ph.D.
The Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) is a statistical process
that was developed to provide unbiased estimates of the influences that
school systems, schools, and teachers have on the academic gains of students.
All students in Tennessee grades 2-8 are tested annually via the Tennessee
Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP).
TVAAS uses student scale scores derived from the norm-referenced component
of the TCAP as input into a statistical mixed model process to produce
these estimates (for a more thorough discussion see Sanders and Horn,
1993 in press). Presently, the master database contains 1.7 million
records merged longitudinally for all students who have been tested during
the past four years.
When the first TVAAS reports of school system effects on student academic
growth were being developed in late 1992, it was observed that certain
systems had a noticeable drop in gain for all subjects at certain grades.
However, the point of retarded gains varied from system to system. After
further examination at the system level, it was hypothesized that the entry
point into the receiving school could be causing the retardation in growth.
Subsequently, an analysis to test this hypothesis using all of the 1.7
million student records was initiated. Students' records are matched and
merged over all systems in the state; thus, school change patters are known.
School configurations across the state vary enormously representing nearly
all possible combinations of grades 2-8.
The mean gain for students who transfer to the lowest grade of their new
school is measurably lower in all 25 subject-grade combinations than students
who stayed in the same school.
Severe retardation in gains was most pronounced in grades six and seven,
the grades at which many school systems routinely transfer students en
masse to middle school or junior high.
These findings indicate that there may be major disruption in a child's
academic progress associated with school change. For many children, building
change occurs when they leave primary school, intermediate school, and
middle or junior high school, so the opportunity for a collective
impairment to their overall academic progress is most likely.
The reader is invited to print and/or copy this paper.