Strapped Schools May Boost Class Sizes
washingtonpost.com — For more than a decade, billions in federal and state dollars were targeted to whittle classes so that teachers can devote more time and attention to each student, crafting lessons to fit the needs of struggling students, high-achievers and everyone in between. Nationwide, the average number of students in elementary classes dropped from 29 in 1961 to 24 in 1996. In 2004, the average elementary class nationwide had 20 children, with about 25 in the average secondary class. But this smaller-is-better trend is in jeopardy. A survey of more than 800 districts released last month found that 36 percent have moved to larger classes in response to the economic downturn. Many are also putting off maintenance, buying fewer textbooks and lowering thermostats.