Most, if not all of my algebra students are in the lowest half of the school. They've failed math and other subjects for years. Some have difficulty reading. Over half have some form of ADD and cannot sit still and concentrate for more than ten minutes at a time. When one is being cooperative, another starts acting crazy. A guidance counselor, working with a group like mine, said "It is like trying to put out wild fires with an 8 ounce cup of water."
In spite of this, I really love these kids. They terrible students but not terrible people. I would trust my life with all except for one.Because of this, I spend as much time as possible working one to one with them. I got upset with one kid who wasn't working in class and threatened not to help him lunch time but then realized that the individual tutoring was the only thing going to work.
The DOE says we need more data analyis tools to help our students. They say we need these tools to know what our students are doing on a daily basis. I say HOGWASH! I know what my kids need and that need is individualization, something that I can only give to a handful.
People who say class size doesn't matter either have never worked with a population like mine or don't give a damn about them. Size counts. The motion of the ocean is not enough.