Class sizes continue to increase in Alberta, and the government does not have adequate plans and processes to reduce them, according to the most recent report from the auditor general. The report examines processes to manage the class size initiative and the nearly $300 million per year that is spent on trying to reduce class sizes. The report points out that the vast majority of boards are not meeting the accepted targets at the K–3 grade level, and that average class sizes are actually larger than they were in 2004, when the initiative began.
“We welcome this important report from the auditor general,” said ATA president Greg Jeffery. “It highlights a number of issues that we have been pointing out for years.”
The report also found that the Department of Education does not have an action plan to achieve smaller class sizes and that reporting on class sizes and oversight into how the funds were used has been inadequate. Notably, it also highlights the inherent limitations of using average class size as a measure, because the measure obscures the actual number of classes that exceed accepted class size guidelines.
“Just five of the 61 school boards in the province are meeting the target of 17 students in K–3 classes, and yet teachers know that far too many classes are well exceeding that number,” said Jeffery. “At the same time, more and more students with special learning needs and student who are learning to speak English are included in classrooms with little to no support.”
Jeffery says that too many students are falling through the cracks because classrooms are overcrowded and inclusion is not being adequately supported. He is calling on the government to introduce funding in this year’s budget to ensure that 2,000 additional teachers can be hired to begin closing the gap. He would also like to see the government immediately start reporting broadly on all class sizes, by releasing the full set of data on the open government portal.
The Alberta Teachers’ Association, as the professional organization of teachers, promotes and advances public education, safeguards standards of professional practice and serves as the advocate for its 46,000 members.
The full chapter from the Auditor General's (AG) February 2018 report on Processes to Manage the Student Class Size Initiative can be read on the AG's website. An Executive Summary is also available.