Academics

The SABIS® View on Class Size

Jul 2013 #Academics

This article has been excerpted from a white paper entitled “The SABIS® View on Class Size.”

Parents of all backgrounds from around the world share a common desire to provide their children with a quality education that positions them well for success and fosters healthy personal and academic development. While the objective is similar the world over, the educational approach parents consider most effective varies vastly depending on geographic region, wealth, and personal experience, among other factors, particularly with regard to expectations relating to class size.

Extensive research has been conducted over decades around the world in an effort to quantify the impact of class size on academic performance and personal development. Regrettably, rather than offering clarity, the research has proven to be inconclusive at best. There are as many reports that support the claim that student performance increases in small classes as there are reports to the contrary.

While the debate about class size has raged on without resolution, SABIS® has taken a different approach. Drawing on its long experience in education and an understanding of what parents want for their children’s education, SABIS® set out to develop a system that could meet the expectations – targeted instruction in an efficient learning environment with high student engagement, rich interaction, and personal attention – a system that can nurture the skills needed to work well with individuals as well as groups throughout life. The result is the SABIS® Educational System, a system that delivers exceptional outcomes on all levels even as it sets out to change parents’ paradigm about class size.

Unlike several educational systems around the world, SABIS® member schools do not form classes of students based solely on age or birthdate. Rather, SABIS® forms classes based on evidence of prerequisite knowledge, specifically in English and mathematics as identified for each student on diagnostic tests. These tests, which are part of SABIS®’s non-selective admissions process, help each member school determine the best grade placement for every student. With evidence of the necessary background knowledge as a foundation, students in a SABIS® class can all learn and progress as a whole.

The SABIS® Classroom Experience

Students in SABIS® member schools benefit from a system that views a successful learning environment as one in which students can learn the most in the least amount of time. Time is seen as a limited resource and one that must be maximized. In delivering instruction to students at all grade levels from first grade through high school, teachers in SABIS® schools implement the SABIS Point System® of instruction, which is based on the precise identification of measureable learning objectives, called “points,” for every lesson and actively engages students in a community of learners.

In the SABIS Point System®, teachers present one point at a time and then ask the class to demonstrate their understanding of the concept through the completion of a written exercise. Next, moving from teacher-led instruction, the class engages as a community of learners, checking each other’s work in small, manageable groups. One student in each group is selected to coordinate the group based on academic competence in the subject. This student oversees his/her own micro-community of learners, managing questions and offering further explanations (or looking to other group members to do so), when needed. The group leader also works in close coordination with the teacher, asking for support and keeping students on task.

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