Smaller K-3 class sizes help student behavior - and prospects to finish high school later

    For more information on how smaller class sizes can impact the lives of young students, tune into #LiveOnKMTR NBC 16 at 11 p.m. on Wednesday, February 6.

    If you're wondering why smaller classrooms make a big difference, just look to the 3rd grade.

    According to national studies, 3rd graders who are not at grade level reading are among the most vulnerable to drop out of high school — four times more than anyone else.

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    One study found that of the students that failed to graduate, 88 percent of them were struggling with reading in third grade.

    “Fewer students in classroom obviously means more attention and more ability to work with these kids,” said Cheryl Linder, the 4J Director of Student Services.

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    Lowering class sizes obviously means more teachers, and some schools say there are open classrooms to do so.

    Linder says not only will improving reading levels boost graduation rates, but it will also help with bad behavior.

    “We are getting more and more kids coming into us from Pre-K to K with struggling skills in the area of behavior,” said Linder.

    Linder says bad behavior is straining Oregon's education system, and she blames a 29 year old state law that took away school funding through property taxes, ultimately cutting some school programs, school psychologists and nurses who could help correct these behavioral issues.

    “Nurses play a key role in mental health and connecting with families,” said Linder. “Our nurses are spread between three and five schools, each of them.”

    Not every school has a full-time psychologist either.

    Linder says funding for these resources would be helpful to correct students acting out, which can be defined as anything from talking back to biting or hitting.

    That's why up to $6.3 million could be used to enhance student mental health services this legislative session, all to try and repair Oregon's broken education system.

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