In my last post, I discussed how smaller elementary schools tend to generate more outlier class sizes. Before I explore possible ways to mitigate that problem, here are a couple of hypothetical questions that help illustrate the issue:
1. Suppose you have a school that has fourteen rooms available as general education classrooms. What would be ideal total enrollment at that school? What would the individual class sizes be?
2. Suppose you have a school that has ten rooms available for general education classrooms. What would be ideal total enrollment at that school? What would the individual class sizes be?
I chose fourteen classrooms and ten classrooms because those numbers work especially well for class size. In a fourteen-room school, you can have two classrooms for each grade level from K through 6. In a ten-room school, you can have two classrooms in each grade from K through 2 (where we usually try to have smaller class sizes), and then one classroom in each grade from 3-6 (where we usually tolerate larger class sizes).
The only constraint: You have to assume there will be an equal number of students at each grade level. So if there are 30 total sixth graders, there are also 30 total kindergartners, though you’re free to split some grade levels into multiple classrooms while not splitting others. (The reason for this constraint is that there is no good way to draw attendance zones that would result in consistently different enrollment totals in the lower grades than in the higher grades.)
Assume that the school is not a high-need school that would qualify for lower-than-average class sizes under the district’s weighted resource allocation model. So the district’s goal would be to keep the class sizes below 26 in grades K-2 and below 30 in grades 3-6. You can exceed those caps if you think that’s the best solution. But you should recognize that anything falling significantly below those goals will put your school below the district averages and make it harder to allocate teachers to high-need schools.
What are the best answers?