There is one additional issue about which WakeEd has great concern and interest.
The teacher assistant issue is complex. There are not many gold-standard research studies devoted to the academic outcomes associated with the presence of a teaching assistant. Of the two that are most often referenced, one is dated (1980’s) and one was done in Ireland. These studies beg questions about what teaching assistants do in schools. Are the tasks they’re assigned consistent across classrooms? How are classroom teachers guided to best use this resource?
There is research that shows reduced class sizes result in better student outcomes. But there are two associated issues. The first is the teacher supply pipeline. BestNC reports a 27% decline in schools of education in the UNC system. Will schools be able to find teachers to fill additional spots? Will they be excellent teachers?
The second issue is space and funding – physical and fiscal. WCPSS is a growing district, and our schools are full. One additional classroom at grades K-3 would require four additional classroom spaces. In schools that are already using every available space to hold class, where will these classrooms be located? Will there be space on school sites for four additional modular classrooms? How will those modular classrooms be funded?
We are not taking a stance on this issue because it’s very complex and needs further study and exploration. We’ve highlighted all budget approaches in gray to reflect that.