The School Committee recognizes that there is a relationship between class size, effective teaching, and student achievement and that this relationship varies across grade levels, among subjects and by methods of instruction. Class sizes that rise above acceptable levels affect both educational quality and the School District’s ability to attract and retain the best possible teachers. Therefore, the class size in the elementary and secondary schools will be determined by several variables including grade level, subject area, particular needs of the pupils in the classroom, nature of the learning objectives, availability of classroom space, instructional methods used, availability of support staff, and budgetary constraints.
The Superintendent, in consultation with the appropriate Principal(s), will develop class size guidelines for the Amherst Elementary Schools, for the Pelham Elementary School, for the Amherst-Pelham Regional Middle School, and for the Amherst-Pelham Regional High School. Each year, the class size guidelines will be reviewed by the Superintendent and Principals, and the Superintendent will report to the respective School Committee on these guidelines. Class size guidelines will be used to inform annual decisions related to staffing, program offerings, and budget.
The annual guidelines for Elementary School class sizes will specify the range in class size for each grade. The District’s preferred ranges for Elementary School class sizes are as follows:
Kindergarten and First Grade - 17 to 21 students
Second and Third Grades - 19 to 23 students
Fourth through Sixth Grades – 20 to 24 students
The School Committee recognizes that the annual guidelines for Elementary School class sizes (and actual class sizes) may be different from these preferred ranges; however, the goal for the class size guidelines will be to keep Elementary School class sizes as low as possible within these preferred ranges, particularly in the youngest grades.
The guidelines for Middle School class sizes will specify the preferred range for class size for team teachers and the minimum class size for other classes.
The guidelines for High School classes will specify the preferred maximum and minimum sizes for regular classes.
Larger and Smaller Classes:
Larger class sizes will be allowed for the scheduling of large group instruction in grades 1-12 for special classes including, but not limited to: fine arts, physical education, instrumental and/or choral music and other special instructional arrangements such as study halls, combined group instruction, unique educational presentations or lectures, etc.
In laboratory science courses and technical courses, the maximum number of students will be determined by the number of work stations and by the size and design of the area.
Certain classes for Special Education students or classes designed for specialized instruction may require smaller class sizes than the guidelines for regular education classes.
Cancellation of Courses with Low Enrollment:
If a high school or middle school class enrollment falls below the minimum class size guideline, the class will not normally be offered. The Principal will consult with the Superintendent and decide whether to continue or eliminate the course.
Reports to the School Committee:
In October, the Superintendent will present information to each Elementary School Committee on the actual class sizes and current student enrollment in the elementary schools. The Superintendent will present information to the Regional School Committee on current Regional student enrollment, Team size at the Middle School, High School classes with enrollment above the preferred maximum number, and courses not offered due to low enrollment.
In early spring during budget development, the Superintendent will present to each School Committee the class size guidelines and student enrollment projections that the administration is using to determine that School District’s budget and staffing needs.
Whenever the annual guidelines for class size exceed the District’s preferred range for the Elementary Schools or are larger than the previous year’s guidelines, and whenever actual class sizes in the Elementary Schools exceed the annual guidelines, the Superintendent will inform the appropriate School Committee as soon as possible.
Region Voted to Approve: January 8, 2013
Amherst Voted to Approve:
Pelham Voted to Approve: