Reduced Class Size in Grades TK-3

Adopted July 1996 – Revised April 2018 – Education Commission

California State PTA recognizes the importance of successful academic and personal development of children in the primary grades. California State PTA has consistently and strongly supported reducing the number of students in each California classroom, especially in kindergarten through 3rd grade. California State PTA believes that – whenever possible – TK-3 class sizes of 20 or less improve the overall development and education of students.

A substantial body of evidence* shows the value of maintaining small class sizes:

  • Smaller class size, particularly in the early grades, is one of the few educational strategies shown to increase learning and narrow the achievement gap;
  • Smaller class size effects seem to be largest when
  • introduced in the earliest grades, and
  • for students from less advantaged communities or family backgrounds;
  • Smaller classes have been found to have a positive impact on school climate, student social-emotional growth, safety and suspension rates, parent engagement, and teacher attrition; and
  • Teachers with smaller class sizes experience better working conditions and have a better chance to succeed.

California State PTA further believes that the benefits of reducing class sizes are optimized when schools also provide:

  • A separate physical area to accommodate each group of children and the assigned certificated teacher;
  • Flexibility in class structure that may include combination classes (K-1, 1-2, etc.) yet always considering the academic and developmental needs of each student when making placements;
  • Assignment of properly credentialed teachers who are well trained in teaching techniques required to teach the early childhood/primary grade levels and on best practices for small group instruction; and
  • A firm funding commitment to make reduced class size an ongoing priority.

State law in California currently sets a maximum class size of 30 in the early grades but also provides a financial incentive, within the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), to encourage local district to set a maximum class size of 24. California State PTA fully supports LCFF and local flexibility but urges all parties to stay committed to reducing class size.

Keeping class sizes in grades K-3 to 20 or fewer must be a continuing goal of the state even as each district decides what is possible within the constraints of: (1) financing available, (2) the need to meet all essential goals of the school district operations, and (3) the relative priority of class size, salaries, and instructional hours. All concerned parties, including parents, teachers and district officials, should work together whenever possible to identify and obtain funding for purposes of reducing class sizes.

California State PTA recognizes the financial obligation that reducing class size places on school districts and on taxpayers of the state of California. California State PTA strongly believes the people of California understand the importance of investing in children and public education, and therefore will be supportive of this use of education funds.

*The Center for Public Education reviewed 19 class size reduction studies.


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