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Thread: Class sizes: FY09 vs. FY08

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    Default Class sizes: FY09 vs. FY08

    In the rapidly becoming unwieldy Our School "Reconfiguration" thread, Kim Reichelt asked for a comparison of this year's class sizes relative to last year.

    Noting that class sizes aren't yet "official" (they become so on October 1), I looked at the number of empty seats (relative to the class size guidelines) per section this year versus last.

    • FY08: 127 empty seats, 59 sections, 2.15 empty seats per section
    • FY09: 68 empty seats, 57 sections, 1.20 empty seats per section

    That is, on average, we have about one more student per ES section this year versus last (an intended consequence of the reconfiguration). Countering that somewhat is the fact that we have 2 sections above the guideline this year versus 9 last year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    In the rapidly becoming unwieldy Our School "Reconfiguration" thread, Kim Reichelt asked for a comparison of this year's class sizes relative to last year.

    Noting that class sizes aren't yet "official" (they become so on October 1), I looked at the number of empty seats (relative to the class size guidelines) per section this year versus last.

    • FY08: 127 empty seats, 59 sections, 2.15 empty seats per section
    • FY09: 68 empty seats, 57 sections, 1.20 empty seats per section

    That is, on average, we have about one more student per ES section this year versus last (an intended consequence of the reconfiguration). Countering that somewhat is the fact that we have 2 sections above the guideline this year versus 9 last year.
    The above is an average across all grades. OK, how many sections are at max size this year vs. how many were at max size last year? My supposition, admittedly lacking the numbers to support it and thus my question, is that there are many more classes at the max than last year.

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    I'd also like to know how many are at or near the max this year vs. last year.

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    John Flaherty

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    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    The above is an average across all grades. OK, how many sections are at max size this year vs. how many were at max size last year? My supposition, admittedly lacking the numbers to support it and thus my question, is that there are many more classes at the max than last year.
    Interestingly enough, I was expecting to find more classes at or above the guideline this year relative to last. It turns out that the opposite is true. [Correction: In response to a question at the 10/6 School Committee meeting, I went back to check the numbers and discovered that counted incorrectly the first time around--in FY08, there were 2 *fewer* sections at or above guideline relative to FY09.]

    FY08: 17 sections at or above guideline
    - 8 at guideline [incorrect prior number: 13]
    - 9 above guideline (4 at the K level with an aide)

    FY09: 19 sections at or above guideline
    - 17 at guideline (7 at the K level with an aide)
    - 2 above guideline
    Last edited by Jeff Dieffenbach; 10-06-2008 at 10:52 PM. Reason: Error correction

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    Interesting.

    Jeff, could you post the actual numbers, class by class for this year and last?

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    John Flaherty

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    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    Jeff, could you post the actual numbers, class by class for this year and last?
    I don't have them in electronic format--you'll need to request them from the Superintendent's office.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Interestingly enough, I was expecting to find more classes at or above the guideline this year relative to last. It turns out that the opposite is true.

    FY08: 22 sections at or above guideline
    - 13 at guideline
    - 9 above guideline (4 at the K level with an aide)

    FY09: 19 sections at or above guideline
    - 17 at guideline (7 at the K level with an aide)
    - 2 above guideline
    Thanks for the numbers. I still don't get it, though. How did we only lose 11 net kids in K-5 and have this kind of a swing? You are more privvy to details than I, maybe you can explain it...a concentration in a last year's grade 5 of max or over classes perhaps?

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    In FY08, we had a number of classes well below the guidelines laid out in the Class Size Policy. This wasn't intentional so much as it was an implication of how the policy works with relatively few sections per grade (as was the case at Happy Hollow and Loker, and to a lesser extent, at Claypit Hill).

    Here's how it works. Imagine 46 hypothetical second graders. We'd have two classes of 23. Now, imagine that 8 more children of this age materialize, for a total of 54 students. Since we'd be 4 students over the guideline in each of two classes, we'd probably open a third section. As a result, we'd now have three classes of 18 (5 below the guideline).

    With more sections in a building, we aren't "caught" between two and three sections, but more likely between three and four, four and five, or even five and six. When you move from five to six, the resulting "underage" is lower.

    This is one reason that a pure "grade level" model (K-2 and 3-5, for instance, in two schools) is more cost-effective than a neighborhood model--the number of sections per grade level within a building is higher still. These scenarios highlight the difference between a class size policy "on paper" and how it works out in reality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    ... We'd have two classes of 23. Now, imagine that 8 more children of this age materialize....
    We'd better hope this doesn't happen because at this point you've left us with no place to put them....


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    John Flaherty

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    We'd better hope this doesn't happen because at this point you've left us with no place to put them....
    hy·po·thet·i·cal
    Pronunciation: hi-pa'-thet-i-kal
    Function: adjective
    2: imagined for purposes of example <a hypothetical case>

    Note that I took this from the Merriam-Webster children's dictionary so that the meaning wouldn't be lost.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    hy·po·thet·i·cal
    Pronunciation: hi-pa'-thet-i-kal
    Function: adjective
    2: imagined for purposes of example <a hypothetical case>

    Note that I took this from the Merriam-Webster children's dictionary so that the meaning wouldn't be lost.
    Re-al-i-ty
    (sorry, I'm not gonna bother with a dictionary)

    We have 11 fewer students (or is it 3? - I've heard both) this year than last, laying to rest once and for all the Declining Enrollment Myth.
    This number is far fewer than the number the SC had predicted, making the closure of Loker seem even more unnecessary, and it also serves the double whammy of making our schools even more crowded this year than we'd been told they would be.

    And that ain't no hypothetical.

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    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    We have 11 fewer students (or is it 3? - I've heard both) this year than last, laying to rest once and for all the Declining Enrollment Myth.
    While I disagree with the conclusions of your chart (and back up that disagreement here), I find it amazing that you don't see your own downward-sloping line as a "decline." Perhaps your computer monitor isn't level?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    This number is far fewer than the number the SC had predicted, making the closure of Loker seem even more unnecessary, and it also serves the double whammy of making our schools even more crowded this year than we'd been told they would be.
    Since our ES students demonstrably *do* fit in the buildings this year (I'm not saying that the buildings aren't tight, but they have fewer classes at or over capacity relative to last year, and with 68 "empty seats"), what you've helped to point out is what I have observed elsewhere (not sure if it was on this Discussion Forum or not): based on the numbers, we might actually have made the reconfiguration work two years ago.
    Last edited by Jeff Dieffenbach; 09-29-2008 at 06:22 AM. Reason: Fix grammar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    While I disagree agree the conclusions of your chart (and back up that disagreement here), I find it amazing that you don't see your own downward-sloping line as a "decline." Perhaps your computer monitor isn't level?
    The difference in the 2 charts is degree. If it's not obvious in the visuals, you might have to read the text.

    I'm guessing my computer's a lot more on the level than yours is.

    Since our ES students demonstrably *do* fit in the buildings this year (I'm not saying that the buildings aren't tight, but they have fewer classes at or over capacity relative to last year, and with 68 "empty seats"), what you've helped to point out is what I have observed elsewhere (not sure if it was on this Discussion Forum or not): based on the numbers, we might actually have made the reconfiguration work two years ago.
    Using that logic, I don't know why we bother to keep any of these schools open. Throw 'em all in the Field House at the HS, and sell the buildings off. When the HS teams wanna use the track or something, just send the li'l ones outside for a couple of hours and tell 'em it's a fire drill.

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    John Flaherty

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    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    Using that logic, I don't know why we bother to keep any of these schools open. Throw 'em all in the Field House at the HS, and sell the buildings off. When the HS teams wanna use the track or something, just send the li'l ones outside for a couple of hours and tell 'em it's a fire drill.
    Constructive as always.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Constructive as always.
    I'm simply using your logic.

    When you say, " based on the numbers, we might actually have made the reconfiguration work two years ago", I'd like to think you're being sarcastic, but I know you're not. You're spinning.

    It's disturbing that none of the 5 SC members have kids at HH. You, of course don't see any of this and those with kids at CH see a situation that is not nearly as bad as HH.

    You really ought to get out more and check our your handiwork. While you're at it, talk to some folks. Not just your cheering section, but some regular folks who are living with results of your decision every day.

    If you can find people willing to be honest with you (this shouldn't be too difficult - if they know who you are, they will undoubtedly seek you out) - you might begin to appreciate the effects of this reconfiguration and the non-planning that went into its implementation.

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    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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