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Survey: Hunger, Class Size Hindering Many NC Students' Needs

photo of an apple on top of books
Kate Ter Haar
Creative Commons

More North Carolina teachers have responded to a working conditions survey than ever before. The results reveal 40 percent of participants don't believe class sizes are conducive to meeting the needs of all students.In all, 91 percent of North Carolina educators weighed in. That's the highest percentage of respondents since the survey began in 2004. Just 60 percent agreed current class sizes allow teachers to meet the needs of all students. And 65 percent agreed students at their school follow rules of conduct.

School districts are lowering class sizes in kindergarten through third grade to comply with a recent state mandate. But lacking adequate funding, many are doing this by increasing class sizes in later grades.

In addition, the survey showed nearly half of North Carolina educators say hunger is a problem for their students.

The problem appears to be most severe in western North Carolina. More than 70 percent of teachers who took the survey there said their students deal with hunger. Nearly 60 percent said their school uses creative strategies to combat the issue.

According to the American Psychological Association, hunger distracts kids from learning. And it can cause toxic stress that harms brain development and academic achievement. This is a especially concerning for child advocates right now, as students start summer vacation and lose access to free school lunches.

Lisa Philip is an occasional contributor to WUNC. Previously, she covered education for the station and covered schools in Howard County, Maryland for the Baltimore Sun newspapers.
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