Fourteen years ago, California offered $1,000 per student to districts that cut K-3 class sizes to 20 students. Smaller classes were wildly popular, but had little effect on achievement, in part because the surge in hiring put less qualified teachers into classrooms. Now class size is growing, reports the Sacramento Bee.
The trend accelerated last year after the Legislature changed the rules for incentive pay, agreeing to pay districts a percentage of their class-size reduction award even if they went over the 20-student limit. For example, schools that raise class sizes to 25 students and higher can still receive 70 percent of the state incentive.
Given the choices – bigger classes or broader cuts – most districts have opted to grow class sizes despite the howls of parents and teachers.
Natomas school board president B. Teri Burns “said after-school programs, sports, counselors and school nurses have proven impacts on learning, while data do not show class size makes a significant difference.”