HAMILTON-WENHAM REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT

WENHAM, MA

H8004

CLASS SIZE POLICY

For the purpose of this policy, the District has been divided into grade categories for specific recommendations:  Preschool; K; Grades 1-2; Grades 3-5; Grades 6-8; Grades 9-12.  

Effective class size is meant to be used constructively.  They are not intended to restrict the flexibility of the system to react creatively in meeting the needs of the district.  

Setting reasonable limitations on class size is essential to creating the needed opportunities for learning for all students, as well as to creating a learning environment within each class that is conducive to effective teaching and learning.

Where class sizes go above appropriate ranges, additional adult support for the primary teacher (e.g., Teaching Assistant, SPED assistant, tutor, intern, etc.) may be appropriate.

Decisions regarding class size will be based on the Core Values, Mission Statement and Budget Priorities established by the School Committee.  The intent of this policy on class size is that it be applied to cover the Grades Prekindergarten-12.

The research on class size and student achievement varies.  Other factors, however, must be considered as they have enormous impact on the learning experiences of students.  The age of students, their capacity and learning styles, individual needs, appropriate instructional methods; teacher responsibilities and physical limitations of facilities are all important considerations.

The age of the students, their learning styles and capacity affect the class composition and size.  The diversity of learning profiles within a class necessitates a reasonable class size in order for a teacher to reach and teach each child.  All students, by law, are to be placed in the least restrictive environment in order to meet their potential.  This means classes today are more diverse than they ever have been before.  

Concepts, content and skills to be taught and mastered by students also affect the composition and class size.  Inquiry based science; small group flexible grouping, learning centers and active engagement of all students in their learning processes influence the maximum number of students in a class.

In our Preschool Sped Program, a maximum of 8 is recommended.  In Kindergarten, a maximum of 18 is recommended.  Students in Kindergarten need more intervention and support as they transition to a world of being one of many competing for an adult’s undivided attention.  In grades 1 and 2, a maximum of 20 is recommended.  Acquisition of basic language skills of reading, listening, speaking and writing as well as understanding of number sense necessitates small class sizes.

In grades 3-5, a range of 20-22 is recommended for a class size.  Students are heterogeneously grouped.  The classroom teacher is responsible for language arts, reading, math, science and social studies, and integration of the arts.  The teacher works to link learning experiences so that the students learn to view their acquisition of concepts, content and skills as a whole rather than separate subjects.

In Middle School (Grades 6-8), the recommendation is a class size range of 20-22 for major subject areas.  At this level, course work is exploratory, students receiving basically the same non-elective curriculum.  Teachers at this level are responsible for specialized areas of instruction and scheduling is by blocks of time.  Possible exceptions to this guideline are classes with space and equipment limitations such as Life Skills and Technology Education.  When possible, Language Arts and World Language class size should be at the low end of class size range.

Recommendations for the High School (Grades 9-12) class size must cover the diversity of course offerings and specific requirements.  Class size range of  20 -22  is recommended as applicable to most courses.  However course objectives, level of instruction, existing facilities and the sequential development of courses may necessitate smaller classes.  For example, some Applied Technology classrooms have a capacity of 16.  English and World Language class size should, when possible, fall below so to promote more written work in these disciplines.

Courses which develop a logical sequence in a department, although not enrolled to capacity, cannot be dropped without interrupting students’ programs. While a recommended minimum of 12 students must sign up for a sequential course during initial class sign up period, it is recognized that scheduling conflicts may result in unpredictable class size fluctuations.          

Six major criteria will be taken into account in determining class size.  These criteria are:

        1.        Numbers

        2.        Educational Philosophy

        3.        Psychological and Behavioral Concerns

        4.        Facility Constraints

        5.        Financial Constraints

        6.        Logical Sequence of Department Courses

Each year during the budgetary process, each school principal, working with on-site staff, will develop and recommend to the Superintendent of Schools, staffing needs consistent with this policy.

When the number of students in a grade does not comply with the desirable class size range for that grade or when financial or facility constraints do not allow the following of this policy, an in depth review process will take place.  This in depth review process will consider the six major criteria listed above.  Input from on-site teachers and administrators will be sought to get the necessary information relative to these criteria to arrive at an informed decision.

If any class exceeds the optimum range of students, the principal, working with staff on site, will make recommendations to the Superintendent of Schools as to what additional support is necessary to best meet the needs of the students.

In addition, when conditions during the school year impact on implementing the policy adopted, the principal will develop and recommend a plan of action to the Superintendent of Schools.  This plan of action will incorporate the weighing of the six major criteria and input from on-site teaching staff.

Class Size Recommendations

A review of our current practice suggests the following class size recommendations.  These class size recommendations are more in line with our Cores Values and current staffing class size practices.  The class sizes below are provided in a range format.  The preferred range is strongly recommended:

CLASS SIZES

                Preferred                                                Optimum

Preschool (SPED)        8        --

Kindergarten        15        18

Grade 1-2        20        20

Grade 3-5        20        22

Grade 6-8 (MS)        20        22

Grade 9-12 (HS)        20        22

Unless otherwise reduced due to conditions in the criteria adjustments where equipment, or labs, or program require lower numbers.

II.        Policy Review and Revision

Review and revision of these policies and procedures shall occur as needed, but at least every two years.

Amendment to the HWRSD Class Size Policy        (H 8004)

As voted by the HWRSD School Committee on February 5, 2009

Modified Class Size through FY 12 – Voted February 5, 2009  

Preschool                               15        students

Grades K – 5                             22 - 24         students

Grades 6-8                              24 - 28         students

Grades 9-12                         26 - 30         students (including English and foreign language)

Modified Class Size for 2008-2009 - Voted March 31, 2008

Preschool                          8-10        students

Kindergarten                        19-20        students

Grades 1-2                        20-22        students

Grades 3-4                        20-22        students

Grades 6-8                        22-24        students

Grades 9-12                        22-24          students (including English and foreign language)

Official Class Size Policy - Voted: 1999

Preschool                          8-10        students

Kindergarten                        15-18        students

Grades 1-2                         18-20        students

Grades 3-12                         20-22        students

HS English & Foreign Lang.        18-20        students

Adopted: September 18, 1997

Reviewed: February 5, 2009