Ideal Class Size




Do you feel class size is a factor in academic achievement in the ASD?


What is the ideal class size for an elementary, middle, and high school classroom?


If class sizes were found to exceed your answer, what would you do to lower that number?

Debbie Ossiander


Yes, class size is a factor in academic achievement.  Certain students and subjects  benefit enormously from individual attention.  Generally speaking the most benefit comes in subjects like creative writing, math, foreign language (that benefit greatly from immediate feedback) and to students who face greater challenges in learning.  ASD has appropriately taken most of those factors into consideration.


I don't believe there is a specific number answer possible here.


During my ten years on the Anchorage School Board we asked that the classroom be the last resort during budget cuts.  We made many difficult decisions and cut good programs to achieve that end.  Assembly members are allowed by state law to approve the total size of ASD"s budget and appropriate taxes to the district only...the rest depends on the School Board.

Jeannie Mackie


 I believe there are some classes which are too big and others that are just about right in the ASD.  Class size is definitely an important contributing factor in academic achievement, but I also don’t believe that a small class size is the silver bullet in improving academic achievement.  I think there are other factors which are equally important to achievement.  Examples: children being at school, not hungry, and ready to learn, teacher effectiveness, and a relevant curriculum which motivates students.


See answer below


In a more perfect world, I think an ideal class size in grades K-1 would be up to 17 students, and concentrating efforts to keep sizes small in grades 2-3 as well.  I would love to see all other grades not have to exceed 25.  Presently, I believe it’s most important to focus small class size efforts on early grades and at-risk students in order to produce the greatest and lasting benefits in student achievement.

It is crucial that we do everything we can to keep class sizes at manageable levels.  The pupil/teacher ratio is the number of students and teachers in a school or the district, which is different than the number of students in a single teacher’s class, so I would like to explore reassigning existing staff to full-time classes in order to reduce class size without adding cost.  Another consideration: lowering class sizes to “ideal” levels may not always be feasible since additional classroom space would be needed, as well as obtaining enough qualified teachers to fill the positions.

Don Smith


Probably a little too big.  The School Board should make every effort to lower the pupil teacher ratio.  I would think that in order to achieve that goal there would  be a need to some make fiscal changes in other areas of the budget.


Different by class - average around 25


Everything the School Board does is measured against the Tax Cap.  If you increase in one area - you need to reduce the budget somewhere else.  This year there will be a forced reduction on the budget as mandated by the Mayor and Assembly.

Tommy O'Malley


The essential success  of education depends on whether teachers  have meaningful time to reach each of their students.  As class size increase  teachers have less contact  with their students. 

In my teaching experience I know that I did a better job and my students learned better when the student to teacher ratio was lower.


IDEALLY  :15 students in the primary grades, 20 in the intermediate, 25 in the junior high and 30 in the high school.


REALLY:  No matter what the teacher to student ratio  is,   the individual contact  between student and teacher, that connection, is where education happens. 

David Nees


Yes, classes in the elementary school continue to be too big. With all of the added testing and pull out programs each child is getting less one on one time with the teacher. A major factor in class size is the inclusion of certificated personnel in the building who are assigned no children. Librarians for instance are included in the teacher student ratio calculation. Most schools have classes that are above the "average" for the school.


20, 25 and 30


Reassign staff who are not allocated students. Teacher experts, certificated support staff in the administration building, program experts could all take on a class or two in order to bring the ratio down. There are at least 20 former teachers or retired /rehired teachers and principals working in the administration building that hold current certificates.  This should be more than enough to bring the class size down.
Principals and Superintendents should also have to teach at least 5 semesters of classes in the ASD during their re certification process. This would keep them in touch with their schools and students
The last step, hire more teachers part time in order to bring down the ratios.

Keli Booher


As a recent graduate of an ASD school I can personally testify to the fact that class size is a factor in academic achievement.  I think that smaller class sizes create the best learning environment.  When in a class that is over sized it is difficult for students to get the kind of attention they need to really progress academically. 




I think that as in any other area of government the ASD must prioritize things during the budget process and I think that maintaining, or in most cases creating, small class sizes should be a top priority.  Class size cuts directly at the quality of education we are able to offer our children. 

Bob Griffin


I know there’s an overwhelming large body of empirical data that show class size to be one of the key predictors of better outcomes for students, especially in the early years of K-3, at risk groups and in classes involving frequent subjective evaluations of student writing. The ASD administration seems to be struggling to allocate resources with reduced class sizes as one of its objectives. There are too many examples of ASD class sizes still exceeding budgeted class sizes, let alone optimum class sizes, despite the large increase in the number of district personnel over the last several years. This is a major concern of mine. Class size is a vital priority is to give our educators who are “in the trenches” the support they need to establish conditions for academic success.


For grades K-3, the optimum class size is less than or equal to 20 students and for grades 4-12, the optimum is 20-27 students, depending on subject matter.  Total Student Load for secondary teachers who do frequent subjective evaluations of student writing should be limited to less than 80 students per term.


With the current staffing level of approximately 14.5 students per educator in the ASD, my optimum class size numbers should be attainable by taking a very hard look at how we deploy staff within the district. A vital priority is to place educators with manageable class sizes; educators in positions not interacting with students should be a very rare occurrence. Simply put, our educators are too valuable of a resource to use in positions outside the classroom.

James LaBelle


Classroom sizes are too large.  The majority of all other states have adopted a maximum effective classroom size significantly below Anchorages.  Studies show that lower classroom sizes are particularly effective in earlier grades.  The most important component in education is the teacher in the classroom.


18, 22, 25


To reduce classroom sizes to meet the standards established by other states would require additional classroom space and funds for teachers.  I believe the State of Alaska has not met their obligations to fully fund education in accordance with their constitutional obligations.  Without additional funds, only limited gains will be possible by careful management.

Matt Claman


Yes.  In general, classes are too big. I recognize that budget constraints have limited ASD's ability to achieve its class-size goals.


15,18, 23


We should do everything we can to reduce class size. The first priority is reducing elementary classes to the ideal size. As mayor, I vetoed Assembly cuts to the school district budget because I supported the School Board's decisions on the ASD budget.

Dick Traini


Yes, I think that class size is a factor is a factor in academic achievement.  The smaller the class size is the more personal attention can be given to students.  I would like to see smaller class size especially in Title I schools and those schools who have not made "Adequate Yearly Progess".  I have taught for UAA as an adjunct professor and have seen the difference and advantage of small class sizes.


Ideally, I would like to see 16 in kindgarten and 1st grade, 18 in 2nd and 3rd, 20 -22 4th - 6th, 22-25 in Middle and High School


As an Assembly Member, I will be limited in my ability to do more than ensure that I pass the ASD's proposed budget. I would work and advocate for the passage of the school district's requested budget while realizing that the final decision on where the money is spent is not in my perview but appropriately left to the school district and the school board.  That is their area of expertise.

Andy Clary


Absolutely.  The larger the class size, the less education is happening.  In a large class, you have to teach to the lowest common denominator and that hurts students in the long run.


15-20, 20-25, 25-30


Reduce administration and hire more teachers in the classroom.  We should be doing everything we can to shift more resources to the classroom.

Paul Honeman


From what I gather - most classrooms are 'about right' - though some classes in some schools are too big.


about 25


Well, as an Assembly Person - I would encourage the ASD School Board to consider funding for more teachers. I believe that the Kindergarten class sizes are lower (20-22) in class sizes. 

Joshua Roberts


Aguably the current class sizes are reasonable in order for students to achieve academic success.


No Response


It is unreasonable to provide specific numberts. To do so would be painting with a broad stroke. However, in an effort to lower the class sizes in High School you may adjust courses afforded. (i.e. reduce the opportunity for elective courses) In Elementary and Middle School you may simply have to hire more teachers.

Jennifer B. Johnston


In a perfect world it would be great to have smaller classes.  Small classes holds both the student and the teacher more accountable for individual achievement, and is particularly important  in the primary grades, but I have seen excellent teachers teach well and engage all the students in a large class.  Cultivating a mentorship between teachers and students in the classroom might be a more realistic way of handling academic achievement.


20, 20, 25


In the 1980's, Alaska suffered a recession and the superintendent of the Fairbank's schools saw the writing on the wall as far as funding.  He became proactive and moved a number of the special educational services into the classrooms, including the gifted program.  This proved to be very successful, because not only did the gifted students receive the service, but other students in the classroom became engaged and actually were able to improve and add to the program.

Ernie Hall


Because of my two and a half years service on the State Board of Education I am very much aware that class size is one of the most important factors in almost any education. Parental involvement in their students education, doing homework, having well behaved kids, and making sure they come to school ready to learn are equally as important. Unfortunately the failure of the students always falls on the teacher because so many parents accept none of blame. I don’t currently know what class sizes are but I’m sure with budget cuts there are more students than is ideal.


K-2=15; 3-6=23; 7-12=28


First thing I would do is to work with the community to better educate them so they are more aware of the value of education and encourage them to step up and be willing to support tax increases to better educate their kids.