Kindergarten to Grade 3 class sizes in Alberta have grown by more than nine per cent in the past five years, shows new data posted recently to the Alberta Education website. The collection of school jurisdiction averages for 2014/15 shows that only five out of 61 jurisdictions are meeting the targets set out by the Alberta Commission on Learning in 2003.
“Unpredictable, unstable and inadequate funding for school boards has resulted in a steady growth in Alberta’s class sizes since 2008,” said Mark Ramsankar, president of the Alberta Teachers’ Association.
“Seventy thousand more students have been added to Alberta’s education system, and the size of the teaching force has not kept up.”
Only 1,300 new teaching positions have been created since 2008, and 3,000 more teachers would be needed to bring class sizes down to 2008 levels, Ramsankar said.
The current average K–3 class size of 20.2 students is three higher than the target of 17 established by the learning commission. The grades 4 to 6 average of 22.7 is at the target of 23, but 16 jurisdictions exceed the target.
Following the provincial government’s unveiling of its 2015/16 budget on March 26, Education Minister Gordon Dirks has said that the average class in Alberta will see an increase of 1.5 students as a result of 12,000 more students being added to classrooms with no funding for enrolment growth. But Ramsankar noted that averages don’t tell the whole story.
“The reality for a lot of teachers is that their current class sizes are much higher than the average, and the funding cuts contained in the budget will bring about an increase that’s also significantly higher than the average,” he said.
Ramsankar is calling on the provincial government to publish all the data from the Class Size Information System on the Alberta Open Data Portal. ❚
A table showing the 2014/15 class size averages by jurisdiction for all subjects can be found on the Alberta Education website. <bit.ly/1CYELoC>
A spreadsheet tracking class-size averages by school jurisdiction since 2009/10 is available on the Alberta Teachers’ Association website. From the home page, click on the item entitled New Data Highlights Growing Class Sizes in Alberta, then scroll to the bottom of the page. <bit.ly/1xZ8D2f>