Monday, September 20, 2021

DOE still has not posted last year's class size data -- after repeated promises to do so.

DOE still has not posted last year's class size data, including the class sizes of remote and blended learning classes.  Last year, many NYC parents and teachers spoke out in protest about how these classes were excessively large, with as many as 40 or 60 students.  See articles in NY Post, WSJ and Gothamist.

Nearly a year ago, in response to a letter sent to the Chancellor by Council Education Chair Mark Treyger, Deputy Chancellor Karin Goldmark promised to provide class size data for the 2020-2021 school year by February, with separate categories for in-person vs. hybrid vs. remote learning.  That never happened.  

Instead, the only class size data posted in February, months after the Nov. 15 legal deadline, were for the socially distanced, in-person classes that were much smaller, averaging 18-20 students per class.

In May, at City Council budget hearings, after Finance Chair Danny Dromm pointed out that DOE had still not posted the promised class size data, Chancellor Porter again promised to make it available. See the hearing transcript on pp. 30-31.

MEISHA PORTER: …as you know that that data that you are asking about that we did post reflects our in-person classes. We also had to make investments to class size obviously as a result of COVID and look forward to providing that data as soon as possible.
CHAIRPERSON DROMM: So, Chancellor, thank you. We look forward to getting that data and former
Chancellor Carranza did say that that data was being collected. So, it should be easily available for us
to see. Would you agree with that, that that data was collected?
MEISHA PORTER: That data is being collected and we will work to make sure that we make it available to you.

Yet they never followed through. On Friday, I sent the following FOIL request for this data.  See below.  I will update this post if and when I receive the data.

Sept. 17, 2021

Records Access Officer
NYC Department of Education
52 Chambers Street, Room 308
New York, NY 10007

By email:

Dear Records Access Officer:

Under the provisions of the New York Freedom of Information Law, Article 6 of the Public Officers Law, I hereby request
the class size data for the last school year 2020-2021, preferably on Nov. 15, 2020, disaggregated by type of class: remote only, hybrid (remote and in person) and full-time in person learning.  As usual, please supply this data, with class size distributions and averages by grade and type of class, at the citywide, district and school levels.

On Oct. 15, 2020, CM Mark Treyger sent a letter to then- Chancellor Carranza urging him to report on school-specific and citywide class size averages as the law requires on Nov. 15, and to disaggregate the data by type of instruction used: either in-person learning, remote classes for blended learning students, and remote classes for full-time remote students.   His letter is here .

On Nov. 14, one day before the class size data was legally due to be reported, Deputy Chancellor Karen Goldmark responded,  saying that they would delay the release of any class size data until Dec. 31, 2020, and would report the disaggregated data by Feb. 15, 2021.

No class size data was released on Dec. 31, and on Feb. 15, 2021, the DOE posted class size data, not on the DOE or Infohub website as usual, but on the city’s Open Data website. 

The data, which was said to reflect class sizes as of Nov. 13, 2020, was not disaggregated, and one can only assume it only reflected in-person class sizes,  since they were far smaller than ever before, 18-20 on average depending on the grade. See charts here.

Meanwhile, some parents and teachers had reported very large remote and online blended learning classes of 40 students, 60 or more.  See articles in NY Post, WSJ and Gothamist about this issue. 

There is no doubt that the DOE has had access to disaggregated class size data since at least Oct. 2020. 

At the Mayor's press conference on Oct. 26, 2020,  Chancellor Carranza said that schools have been reporting attendance data in "literally three buckets of attendance every single day": in-person classes, remote blended learning classes, and full-time remote classes.  Thus, the disaggregated class sizes must have been available since that time, as attendance rates cannot be calculated without the data on the number of students enrolled in a class compared to the number who are attending.  

In Oct. 2020, the DOE began to release attendance rates by school, and since Feb. 2021, the city reported citywide and district-wide attendance data disaggregated by remote, blended in-person, blended-remote, and in-person learning.

In April 2021, the DOE released remote-only attendance data by grade.

This requested class size data is not exempt from disclosure under FOIL. In the event that all or part of this request is denied, please cite each specific applicable FOIL exemption and notify us of appeal procedures available under the law. 

To the extent that this data is readily available in an electronic format, we request that it be provided in that format. The Freedom of Information Law requires agencies to respond within five (5) business days of a records request.  

Please contact me by phone at 917-435-9329 or by email to  with any questions. Thank you in advance for your timely consideration of this request.

Sincerely, Leonie Haimson

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