Class Size Report Shows Decline in Number of Oversized Classes

January 29, 2002
Efforts undertaken last spring by the Board of Education and County Council to reduce class sizes have brought about a substantial decline in the number of oversized classes this school year, according to the school system's official class size report released recently.

Overall, the average class size for the 2001-2002 school year is down at all grade levels compared with the previous year. The reduction in class size is particularly notable at the kindergarten and elementary school level, as well as in Algebra 1 and Grade 7 math classes.

The Board guidelines recommend that kindergarten classes, as well as Grades 1-3, have no more than 28 students per class, and that Grades 4-6 have no more than 30 students per class. At the middle and high school levels, the recommendation is no more than 28 students in English classes and no more than 32 students in other academic subjects.

This year, all kindergarten classes have met the Board of Education's maximum class-size guidelines, and the guidelines for Grades 1-3 and Grades 4-6 are exceeded in fewer than 1 percent of classes. In addition, Algebra 1 classes this year have an average of 19.6 students, and Grade 7 mathematics classes show an average class size of 20.3 students.

Average class size is only one of the criteria for evaluating instructional staffing. For example, elementary classroom teachers are provided with the support of specialists in physical education, music, art, reading and/or library services. This support is not reflected in class-size figures.

The report shows that at the kindergarten level, more than 71 percent of all classes have fewer than 21 students, almost 28 percent have 21-26 students, and less than 1 percent have 27-28 students.

In Grades 1-3, almost 44 percent of all classes have fewer than 21 students and almost 51 percent have between 21-26 students.

The vast majority of students in Grades 4-6 also meet the guidelines, with almost 8 percent of classes having fewer than 21 students and 85 percent having 21-28 students.

At the middle school level, English classes average 23 students, and other academic classes average fewer than 24 students. Only 8.1 percent of English classes exceed 28 students, compared with 9.6 percent for 2000-2001, and 1.8 percent of other academic classes are over 32 students, compared with 2.8 percent the previous year.

The average high school class also has fewer students than last year, with an average of 24 students in each English class and 25 students in other academic subjects. For high school English classes, 9.1 percent are larger than the recommended guidelines, compared with 11.9 percent the previous year; and in other academic subjects, 4.3 percent of classes are larger than 32 students, down from 6 percent in 2000-2001.

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