Testimony to House Public Education Committee for HB 296
By Cody Summerville
We appreciate the strong quality standards included in Representative Wu’s bill. Class size caps, teacher-student ratios, and increased training for teachers would raise the level of quality of Texas pre-K programs. It also would create state standards in these areas where none currently exist, and closer align Texas with quality recommendations from the National Institute for Early Education Research, or NIEER. NIEER has stated that ratios is one of the most important quality indicators that Texas is lacking. Reasonable ratios and class sizes are also key elements of quality definitions as identified by the federal government, as well as as identified in a recent report from the University of Virginia commissioned by Raise Your Hand Texas. If we ignore important quality indicators lacking in our pre-K program, like ratios and class sizes, it is unlikely that Texas will be able to produce significant improvements.
Reasonable class sizes and teacher-student ratios allow for more meaningful and frequent student and teacher interactions, a key quality indicator in pre-K. When a teacher is able to spend more one-on-one time with a student, he/she is able tailor instruction to meet the needs of students. This results in effective teaching and learning. Additionally, small class sizes are proven to increase a wide range of outcomes for students, such as increased academic achievement and better social skills.