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Class Size

Priorities for Changing NCLB: A federal class size reduction program is an NEA priority in rewriting NCLB.

Didn't we have a class size reduction program a few years ago?

Yes. The class size reduction program, which provided $4.1 billion used to hire some 37,000 teachers to reduce class size, was eliminated under NCLB. NEA supports restoring the class size reduction program. NEA's goal is to win funds specifically for class size reduction.

Does research support what teachers know- that class size has a direct impact on student achievement?

Yes. The research shows that learning increases as class size is reduced, especially in the early grades. NEA considers 15 students to be the optimum class size, especially in kindergarten (K) and ?rst grade. Researchers have documented benefits from class sizes of 15-18 students in K and of fewer than 20 students in grades 1-3. Studies show that students in smaller classes continue to reap academic bene?ts through middle and high school, especially minority and low-income students.

Does NEA support smaller classes in the upper grades as well as the primary grades?

Yes. Even in the upper grades, teachers can be more successful in increasing student learning when they can provide more individualized attention. Closing the achievement gaps requires opportunities to work with students who need greater assistance.

Does NEA have a specific class size reduction target?

NEA recommends an optimum class size of 15 students in regular programs, especially in the early grades, and a proportionately lower number in programs for students with exceptional needs, including children with disabilities and English language learners.

What about space to accommodate smaller classes?

NEA has taken space needs into account and supports a combination of federal programs-both grants and tax subsidies to states and school districts -- for school modernization to accommodate smaller classes, as well as allowing for two teachers in one classroom to reduce the student-teacher ratio.