Posts tagged ‘Chicago CPS class size’

Class Size Disparities

I’ve been noticing the different sizes of Kindergarten classes being reported, and I saw that someone commented on the First Day of School thred about their child’s K class size being 34 kids with one teacher and no aide.  I know many people are wondering how this happens when CPS “found the money” to keep class sizes at the previous 28 kids.

CPS uses a formula to assign a certain number of teachers to a school, something like 28 in the lower grades and 30 or 31 in the upper grades.  One GIANT problem with this is that it assumes a nice even balance of kids across grades and actually defies the reality of CPS, which is that kids seem to leave as they age, not enter the system (maybe that’s just my perception though.)   As a simple example, imagine a school with 9 grades, one class per grade.   CPS ads up, say 30 kids per grade = 270 and they divide that by the 28/30 alloted to the school and assign exactly 9 teachers.  It works out OK, although the lower grades are a little higher than 28 and the upper grades are a little lower than 31.  But CPS isn’t going to send out another 1st grade teacher due to 2 kids and split the class into 15/15, right?  Nor would that make sense. 

Now, imagine that same school has only 25 kids in grades 6,7,8.  That leaves 195 kids in the lower grades, say 32-33 per grade.  The school still gets their 9 teachers, but how to divide them up?  The lower grades are big and the upper grades are small, but there aren’t enough teachers to split any classes and again, CPS isn’t going to “give” the school new teachers just because some of the grades went over 28 kids.  Now the question is, how big DOES a grade need to get for CPS to give them another teacher, even though the overall school formula doesn’t provide them with one.  That, I don’t know.

So that is one way that schools end up with large class sizes.  I’ve heard that schools in some of the highly popular schools, such as Edgebrook have gone up to 40 kids per class.  This may be due to lack of space, I’m not quite sure.  All I know is that the tipping point at which a school gets teaching help seems higher than it should be.

The grade size discrepancy problem often occurs as schools are in the midst of attracting new “clientele.”   Schools who saw their enrollment decline are suddenly facing an onslaught of K kids and it disrupts the balance of teacher allocation.  My neighborhood school set up a mixed-grade K-1 class to avoid big class sizes, but the parents of the 1st graders weren’t happy.  Basically, when the teacher allocation doesn’t work, someone will always end up feeling screwed over.  ALSO… CPS doesn’t make the final allocation until something like the 20th day of school, so often kids are in huge classes or changes are made a few weeks into school.  (again, unhappy parents who have a beloved teacher yanked away from their child who has finally adjusted to starting school!)

I do wonder why teacher’s aides aren’t used more often.  The tuition-based PreK’s use them (maybe PreK for All too?)  I think the pay is around $12 and people need an associates degree?  Jeez, would this not be a perfect job for moms with kids in school?  Retired people?  Even a couple floating aides per school could help out different classrooms as needed.  Or one for 2 K classes to share.  I mean, we all know it’s not a priority for some reason (money) but it sure would be nice.

September 15, 2010 at 4:21 pm 22 comments




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