Class size only part of the problem say Central Alberta teachers

Though the Alberta auditor general’s report points out that classroom sizes continue to be a concern, its only part of the problem.

David Martin, the Central Alberta Teachers Convention Association president, said that while class sizes are increasing, a classes’ complexity is also affecting teachers.

“It’s like juggling flaming chainsaws,” said Marin.

“Not only are class sizes increasing, it’s the complexity. If you gave me 30 kids with similar abilities, I’m not going to have as many issues if had kids with a wide range of abilities.

“For example, a Grade 3 classroom with six kids learning English, you have three kids who aren’t at grade level and you’re above the class size.”

Martin said that teacher would have to lesson plan for the three students who need an individualized plan, have a plan for the English as a Second Language students and a plan for the 20 other students in the class.

The auditor general released a report Thursday, saying $2.7 billion had been spent to reduce class sizes over the past 13 years, but schools have “been unable to reduce class sizes.”

Teachers from across Central Alberta met at the teachers convention on Thursday and Friday, held at Red Deer College.

With a growing number of English as a Second Language and the need to develop Individualized Program Plans for some students, it can be a challenge for teachers.

At a mixer held Thursday evening, he said he heard stories of a Grade 5 class in Central Alberta with 32 students and a kindergarten class with 27 students in it. He had teachers write on cards describing their class size and composition.

“This is a realization that the government needs to start funding this,” said Martin. “I’ve seen classes in high school with 40 kids. That’s insane.

“We need to fund our central services more. This isn’t a board issue, I know principals would love to have an educational assistant in every classroom. But where’s that money coming from.”

Data released by Red Deer Public School District shows the average class size shows a trend where provincial targets are met in Grades 7 to 12, but classes are larger than provincial targets in kindergarten to Grade 6.

According to the district, the average kindergarten to Grade 3 class is 20.1 students while the target is 17, the average Grade 4 to 6 class is 24.8 students while the target is 23, the average Grade 7 to 9 glass is 25 while the target is 25 and the average Grade 10 to 12 class size is 23.9 while the target is 27.

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