Fund Class Size Reduction Now!

You can download a PDF version here.

  • What are we proposing?

Class Size Matters is urging that the Mayor and NYC Council allocate $100 million to be allocated towards hiring teachers to lower class size, starting first in the early grades and in struggling schools.

That amount could pay for the salaries of about 1,000 new teachers, which could reduce class size in as many as 4,000 classrooms – as adding a new teacher at a grade level lowers class size for all the other students in that same grade in the school.

These funds would represent less than one percent of the more than $34 billion that the DOE is spending this year.

  • How can you help?

Please come and testify  at the City Council Education hearings about the need to lower  class size on Monday, Feb. 24 at 1 PM at 250 Broadway; 14th floor.  The hearings are likely to continue to at least 4 PM.

If you cannot attend, you can send a statement or written testimony by Feb. 27 at 5 PM to jatwell@council.nyc.gov who will share it with Education Committee members.

Please also call Speaker Corey Johnson at 212-564-7757 or 212-788-7210 and your own Councilmember – you can find out their contact info at https://council.nyc.gov/districts/

Urge them to allocate at least $100 million in next year’s budget for class size reduction.

If you do plan to testify or send a statement, is always best to speak from your own experience as a parent or teacher.  But here are some additional points you could make.

  • Why is class size important?

Research shows smaller classes lead to better results for all kids – especially those who need help the most.  Class size reduction has been shown to lead to higher test scores, better grades, more engaged students, fewer disciplinary referrals, and less teacher turnover.

Children assigned to smaller classes are more likely to graduate from high school on time, attend  college and get a STEM degree. They are also more likely to own their own home and have a 401K twenty years later.[1]

Smaller classes will also likely lead to substantial cost savings by lowering special education referrals, boosting four year graduation rates, reducing the need for expensive and often less effective intervention services.[2]

Economists have estimated that reducing class size yields benefits about twice the costs, especially for low-income students and children of color, who make up most students in NYC public schools.[3]  As a result, class size reduction has been identified as one of only a handful of reforms shown to narrow the achievement/opportunity gap between economic and racial groups.[4]

  • What has happened to class size in NYC and what are the results?

Class sizes have increased sharply in NYC  since 2008 and are 15-30% larger on average than in the rest of the state.

More than 275,000 NYC students are crammed into classes of 30 or more this year. The number of children in grades 1st-3rd in classes of 30 or more has risen by nearly 3,000% since 2007.

While the Mayor has focused his efforts on expanding Pre-K and now 3K, a 2014 letter signed by over 70 professors of education and psychology sent to the previous Chancellor emphasized that any gains from Pre-K would likely be undermined without an effort to reduce class size in grades K-3.[5]

As Dale Farran, an eminent Pre-K researcher has written, “Too much has been promised from one year of preschool intervention without the attention needed to the quality of experiences children have and what happens to them in K-12.” [6] 

Since Mayor de Blasio took office, achievement levels have been flat or declining, as measured on the national exams called the NAEPs, the most reliable assessments. And the gap in test scores between students of different economic and racial groups has widened.[7]

  • How do NYC parents and teachers feel about class size?

In a UFT teacher survey from 2014 – the most recent publicly available – 99% NYC teachers responded that class size reduction would be an effective reform to improve NYC schools, far outstripping any other proposal. About 90% of them said that this would be a “very effective” reform.[8]

Ever since the DOE’s school environment surveys have been administered, smaller classes have been the highest or second highest priority of parents every year when asked what changes they would like to see in their children’s schools.[9]

  • What about space?

In about half the school districts, there is space to lower class size now. In some overcrowded districts, Pre-K classes could be moved into CBOs, many of which are under-enrolled. Kindergarten classes could be also re-located to many of the half-empty DOE-operated Pre-K centers, where there is more space to reduce class size.

Overall, there does need to be an expedited and expanded capital plan. Another $100 million in upfront costs amortized over time would fund more than 21,000 additional seats, given the current 50% state reimbursement for capital expenses.

And as shown in the Pre-K initiative, where there is political leadership, space can be found. The same can happen if the city implements a coordinated and prioritized plan to lower class size.

Resources:

More information about the research on class size can be found on our website here:
https://classsizematters.org/research-and-links/

Fact sheets on class size here:
https://classsizematters.org/fact-sheets-on-the-benefits-of-class-size/

Presentations with district-specific class size data and trends, organized by borough, can be found here: https://classsizematters.org/class-size-presentations-of-citywide-and-district-trends-since-2006/

 

Any questions?  Please email info@classsizematters.org or call 917-435-9329.

 

[1] https://classsizematters.org/research-and-links

[2] https://secureservercdn.net/198.71.233.96/3zn.338.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Summary-of-Class-Size-Reduction-Research-NY.pdf

[3] https://secureservercdn.net/198.71.233.96/3zn.338.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/economic-considerations-and-class-size.pdf and https://secureservercdn.net/198.71.233.96/3zn.338.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/The-Non-Cognitive-Returns-to-Class-Size.pdf

[4] https://classsizematters.org/research-and-links/#opportunity

[5] The letter is posted here: https://classsizematters.org/73-education-professors-urge-the-chancellor-and-the-mayor-to-reduce-class-size/
A related op-ed is here:  https://www.wnyc.org/story/opinion-de-blasio-must-put-reducing-class-size-first/

[6] https://www.nashvillepublicradio.org/post/long-awaited-vanderbilt-pre-k-study-finds-benefits-lacking#stream/0

[7] https://chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2018/04/10/yet-again-new-york-city-shows-no-gains-on-a-national-reading-and-math-exam/

[8] http://www.uft.org/files/attachments/annual-teacher-survey-2014.pdf

[9] https://infohub.nyced.org/reports-and-policies/school-quality/nyc-school-survey/survey-archives

Categories Reports & Memos, Updates | Tags: | Posted on January 16, 2020

Social Networks: RSS Facebook Twitter Google del.icio.us Stumble Upon Digg Reddit

Comments are closed.