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Kindergarten Classroom Sizes

by Menotomy Observer on May 30th, 2011

Wah, wah, wah. My precious bundle of joy might be in a classroom with 25 other kids and one teacher, a teacher’s aide and one or two other adults part-time as specialists. At least that is what the pro-override zealots are saying.

In 1967, Arlington’s kindergartens had classroom sizes in excess of 30 kids. Here is mine from the Parmenter school with 32 kids and one teacher. In case you are wondering, I still know many of the kids, some who grew up to be doctors, scientists, attended Harvard, MIT and even a Rhodes scholar. These huge classroom sizes did not seem to affect us in the slightest.

Parmenter School Kindergarten Class of 1967

In fact, the classroom had a Chinese abacus in it and I learned all the arithmetic that was then spoon fed to me over the next 8 years; from a device over two thousand years old and a teacher who encouraged me to pursue my own interests. My humble opinion is that it is not the classroom size, nor the facility, but the one or two good teachers and the parents that determine the positive academic outcome for any child.


An alert reader sent us an interesting link. Apparently facebook has a page for Parmenter School Alumni. Below is a comprehensive count of every class with a picture at the Parmenter school (50) from the early 1960s through the late 1970s that shows an average class size of 24.

We dropped three classes that had a placard for the Sunshine or Central schools, and one classroom that had two adults in the picture. That said, this is a representative sample of the average classroom sizes in Arlington’s Parmenter School over a 20 year period, showing that the average class size of 24 was higher that the current 22 class size in the Arlington elementary schools today.

The strident reports of an average class size of 25, if the override fails, are not that far from the historic norm and hardly cause for concern about the quality of teaching. Remember, most elementary school classrooms in the 1960s and 1970s had one adult, while classrooms today have a teacher, frequently an aide and almost always one or more specialists for the children most at need.

As well, there are 111 classrooms with more than 220 FTEs defined as teachers and teacher aides servicing about 2520 students in K-5 in Arlington today giving an average classroom size of 23 children and a student teacher ratio of 12. To increase to an average classroom size of 27, we would be seeing 17 less classrooms, or 13% of the elementary classrooms closed. Why this makes any sort of sense with a purported budget shortfall of $2.6M on $44M, or 6%, is just another guidepost in the scare tactics employed by the override zealots.

29 kids – Grade 4
29 kids – Grade 4
16 kids – Grade 2
26 kids – Grades 3/4
14 kids – Nursey School
29 kids
23 kids – Grade 2
16 kids – Grade 3
23 kids – Grade 6
26 Kids – Grade 5
25 kids – Grade 3
25 – Grade 4
22 kids – grade 2
20 kids – grade 1
19 kids – kindergarten
21 kids – grade 1
16 kids – grade 3
33 kids – kindergarten
21 kids – grade 1
21 kids – grade 5
28 kids – grade 3
27 kids – grades 3/4
29 kids – open
24 kids – grades 5/6
21 kids
24 kids
60 kids in 3 classes
19 kids
21 kids – garde 2
25 kids – open
24 kids
24 kids
22 kids – grade 2
26 kids – grade 6
25 kids – kindergarten
24 kids – grade 5
22 kids – grade 4
23 kids – grade 3
19 kids – grade 2
23 kids – grade 1
26 kids – grade 1/2
24 kids
20 kids
28 kids – grade 3
25 kids – open
25 kids – grade 1
27 kids – grade 2
27 kids – grades 5/6
27 kids
24 kids

  1. Retired Teacher permalink

    The difference between the 1970s and 2010s for K-5 elementary classrooms is one of semantics and different classroom management strategies. The semantics are in the differing uses of the words classroom, classroom teachers, teachers and FTEs.

    In the 1970s, classrooms had one teacher and the classroom sizes and student teacher ratios were similar at about 24.

    Today, the APS has the equivalent of 2 teachers per classroom on the elementary staff and the same classroom sizes as the 1970s. Currently, there are 220 FTEs designated as teachers, teacher aides and specialists across 111 classrooms. Student teacher ratios across the elementary schools have dropped dramatically since the 1970s, while physical classroom sizes have remained the same.

    The possibility exists that 10% of the teachers could be terminated (22 of 220) without any change in the number of classrooms, leaving classroom sizes the same but cutting back on aides and specialists. Many of the specialists are floaters and not assigned to any one classroom, while other specialists have assigned rooms that are not designated as classrooms.

    The unspoken choice by the APS management is that any cutbacks will affect only the lead classroom teachers and not the aides or specialists since that preys on parents fears the most supporting the call for an override.

  2. Jeff permalink

    Dear Menotomy Observer:

    I read this the other day, then I checked with my folks. I too had 30+ kids in my kindergarten class. We actually had 1 teacher and were in a trailer classroom outside the main building of the grammer school I attended.

    NO aids, no specialists, no assistance. The teacher did such a good job they requested that same teacher for my younger sibling for the very next school year, in the same trailer! We survived!


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