The city’s utter failure to reduce class size is a direct result of a lack of leadership, commitment and accountability on the part of the DOE.
At the current glacial rate of decline, it will be 10 to 30 years before the city reaches its state-mandated targets of 20 on average in grades K-3 and 23 in other grades. More findings from the report:
- At 43 percent of all K-8 schools citywide, class sizes increased.
- In large high schools with 1,500-plus students, there were four more students per class on average than in small schools with fewer than 1,500 students.
- Little progress was made even in the city’s low-performing city elementary and middle schools (SINI/SRAP), which need smaller classes most desperately; 51 percent saw some decreases in class size but 42 percent saw larger classes.
In the city’s failing middle schools, class sizes remain larger than the citywide averages. Among the 309 K-8 schools that were given class size funds, the more money that was allocated for this purpose, the more likely it was that class sizes increased rather than decreased.
- Districts 10, 20, 24 and 25 had among the largest classes yet all were in the bottom half for reducing class size this year. Conversely, the top five districts for reducing class size (18, 6, 19, 5 and 17) all had smaller than average class sizes to begin with.
See the coverage in the Daily News: 153M can't uncram classes; NY Post : FAILING TO 'CUT' CLASS;
In the NY Times, the findings were buried in a longer piece about the fact that another $80 million has been wasted in the ATR system devised by Joel Klein – in which teachers who were “excessed” through no fault of their own because of school closings and the like would no longer be automatically reassigned to other schools but would be held in an “absent reserve” at full pay until they could find new jobs.
In the new “open market” system, principals have to pay out of their school budget for every teacher they hire, and the more experienced the teacher, the more he or she costs -- so there’s a built-in disincentive against doing so. In the past, principals were given budgets that automatically covered the cost of their staff, no matter what their experience level, but this is no longer the case.
I filed a Freedom of Information request for the data on the ATRs and as of October, there were 800 of these teachers. Many of them are highly skilled, and should instead have been assigned to classes at no cost to principals to reduce class size. The city, of course, would rather have them sit around doing nothing so they can eventually lay them off.
The teachers on absent reserve, along with another 800, sitting idle for years in the rubber rooms, many of them without ever being formally charged with misconduct, as well as the explosion of out of classroom positions such as “data coaches” and “senior achievement facilitators” have led to huge inefficiencies in the system, that Klein et al should be held accountable for.
The city’s response to the new findings? The DOE doesn’t deny that class sizes may have gone up in one third of schools receiving class size reduction funding -- but insist that “schoolwide averages mask targeted class size reductions in key courses like math.” So a school could lower class size in math, but raise class sizes in English, Social Studies and Science? What do you think: is this what our kids need? Is this what the State intended when they ordered NYC to reduce class size?