The DOE today issued its new and revamped class size report, and for the first time–or the second if you count last year’s somewhat controversial report–it is possible to get fairly accurate data on class sizes at the city level, the borough level, the district and the school levels. This is a huge advance, the product of a ridiculous amount of work and struggle.
It’s also a huge amount of data. What to make of it? The best thing to do to start is check out your own school and grade or subject, if you are a teacher, and see if it matches reality. Parents should of course look at their children’s schools and grades. If it doesn’t, let the UFT know. But going forward it should be much harder for DOE to fudge the class sizes. This is a tool that anyone can use to monitor class size. What it shows is that while classes overall are getting a bit smaller, this is not happening fast enough, especially in the high schools.
The UFT participated in developing the new system and two of our staffers, Burt Sacks and Paul Egan, were thanked publicly in the chancellor’s press release. Randi Weingarten credited the DOE with keeping its word and said this was “the most transparent data yet on class size.” But as she said, what’s most important now is that the DOE honor the state Contracts for Excellence plan by lowering all class sizes to 20 in K-3 and 23 in grades 4 through 12 within five years.
Good data is better than bad data, but small classes can make the difference between getting educated or not.