Compelling evidence and research substantiates the value of small class size in learning outcomes. The Beech Hill School is committed to maintaining classes of roughly 12 students or less. Our short term growth strategy, approved by our Board of Directors, has established admission goals of roughly 36 students, equivalent to one class of 12 students in each grade.
Although much has been made of the positive effects of small class size, the effects are substantially greater when a small class size is part of a small community. Many schools, both public and independent, boast small class sizes. However, the effect of these is limited when the school community is too large. At BHS, we are committed to small class sizes within a small school community. Thus, in the long term, BHS will have a maximum capacity of about 85 students. The results of a student attending a small school are important, particularly during a developmental time when students are often exploring their own self-identity.
"As students move through the middle grades, they do better in a more personalized learning environment where their teachers know them well," said Nancy Ames, Education Development Center Vice President and a member of the National Forum's* policy committee which helped draft the statement. “It's a concept that makes common sense. If all of your teachers know your full name and something about you, chances are you won't slip through the cracks," Ames said.
At BHS everyone in the community knows each student. Each BHS student’s strengths are celebrated and weaknesses are supported. BHS students learn to work together and to appreciate the differing strengths and weaknesses of their cohorts. At a time in a child’s development when many students question who they are and who they will become, The Beech Hill School provides a community where each voice is heard, each opinion valued, each success celebrated, and each failure supported.
* The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform is an alliance of educators, researchers, national associations, and officers of professional organizations and foundations, dedicated to improving education in the middle grades.