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Wednesday, 28 December 2016 08:00

PRSD board’s commitment to lower class sizes in younger grades succeeds

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Efforts to lower the average class size in Kindergarten to Grade 3 classrooms in Prairie Rose School Division this school year have been a success, thanks to the board’s commitment to ensuring instructional dollars continue to be spent in classrooms on teachers and support staff.


The board learned more about the average class size in the core subjects in the division at the Dec. 13 regular board meeting from Kal Koch, deputy superintendent.
“We’re very proud to get to these numbers,” he said in a telephone interview after the meeting.
For the 2016-17 school year class sizes in the core subjects range from an average high of 21.7 students per class in the division to an average low of 17.1 students per class in the elementary grades.
The Alberta Commission On Learning (ACOL) offers guidelines for what it thinks class sizes should be in the province. In Kindergarten and including up to Grade 3, it would like to see no more than 17 students per class; 23 in grades 4-6; 25 in grades 7-9 and 27 in high-school classes.
PRSD falls well below these guidelines in all areas except for kindergarten to Grade 3. In the 2016-16 school year the average in division one was 18.8. This school year that has decreased to 17.1, only slightly above the provincial guidelines. In division two, which includes grades 4-6, there was a slight increase from 19.0 to 19.6 on average across the division.
“We had said last year, we needed to get closer to the suggested class sizes,” said Koch, who added is he is proud of the decrease that took place in division one this year.
There are a number of reasons for a higher class size in the lower grades. Sometimes enrolments don’t always work into easy class splits, while at other schools some grades may be combined to bring class sizes closer to the recommended averages.
Class sizes each year, influence the planning and decision making for the following school year.
Ensuring class sizes in the elementary grades are as manageable as possible helps give the best possible experience for children who are just beginning their educations.
“By the end of Grade 3, we want (students’) literacy fluency at or above grade level and their numeracy at or above grade level,” explains Koch. “These are critical years. We build a foundation in the early years so (students) can have success throughout (their educations).”
PRSD’s class size reports are available on the website at: http://prrdweb.com/.
At the meeting, the board also approved the 2017/18 and 2018/19 school calendars.
They were presented with only minor changes from previous years and have the same number of instructional days as this year at 183.
Both calendars also include eight Professional Development/Student Initiative days, one division Professional Development day as well as start dates after the Labour Day long weekend.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor