©  2011 Idaho Press-Tribune

CANYON COUNTY — All three colleges in Canyon County emphasize the connection between small class sizes and quality education.

Officials with The College of Idaho, Northwest Nazarene University and the College of Western Idaho say low student-to-teacher ratios make up an important part of the value of their institutions.

The Idaho Legislature is considering a bill that would increase class sizes for fourth- through 12th-grades in the state to pay for classroom technology and teacher pay. The increase would save money by eliminating teaching positions.

State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna has argued that a nationwide effort to decrease class sizes in public schools over the last three decades has not improved student achievement. Not so at The College of Idaho, said the director of the school’s teacher preparation program Dennis Cartwright.

“It’s been an area that we’ve prided ourselves in,” Cartwright said about the school’s small class sizes. “We feel it’s one of the strongest points over here.”

 The College of Idaho averages 12 students per class, spokesman Jordan Rodriguez said.

“You can be more effective as a teacher at any level if you can have more interaction with students,” Cartwright said.

College of Western Idaho classes average about 23 students, President Bert Glandon said. That number, although it varies depending on the particular subject matter, allows instructors to better connect with students, Glandon said.

“That’s valued highly at the community college,” Glandon said about smaller class sizes. “The more student-teacher contact there is the higher degree of relationship that’s built. You really want to build the kind of relationship ... to assure the student a comfort zone that they feel they can not only learn but be successful in.”

Northwest Nazarene University has a student to faculty ratio of 15 to 1 and an average class size of 19, according to its website.

“For me personally, the smaller class size provides me the opportunity to certainly give them more one-on-one time ... and help them with more difficult concepts,” NNU economics professor Peter Crabb said.

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