An Alberta Education report shows that funding to reduce school class sizes – especially from kindergarten to Grade 3 – did not deliver results.
Over the last 15 years, Alberta has invested more than $3.4 billion in the Class Size Initiative. Despite this significant investment, kindergarten to Grade 3 class sizes have only decreased on average by 1.4 students since 2003-04.
“Albertans elected us with a clear mandate to conduct an audit of class sizes and determine what happened to previous funding dedicated to class size reduction. This report demonstrates that we cannot continue to throw money at this problem, rather that we must look for new solutions while continuing to appropriately fund education.”Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education
The report highlights that, in general, school jurisdictions view the class size funding model as ineffective, and these dollars should be included with base instruction funding so that jurisdictions have flexibility to use funds to best support their unique needs.
It also identifies that there are many variables in a classroom – besides the number of students – that affect student success.
“The College of Alberta School Superintendents’ board of directors reviewed the 2019 Class Size Initiative Review and supports the suggestion that class size funding be rolled into base instruction funding, allowing school authorities the flexibility and local autonomy to make decisions to best support students in their respective jurisdictions.”Bevan Daverne, president, College of Alberta School Superintendents
“We look forward to working with the minister to find solutions that address how to best meet the increasingly complex learning needs of our students. We are pleased that there is a funding framework review underway, as this is something that school boards have been advocating to government for some time. It is critical that school boards have adequate, long-term, sustainable, and flexible funding.”Lorrie Jess, president, Alberta School Boards Association
“As I make funding decisions, I will be looking through the lens of what is best for our students and what will be most effective in improving student learning. We owe it to parents and children to get better outcomes for the money that is being spent on education.”Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education
The province is working with education stakeholders to review the funding and assurance model for the education system, which will include an examination of the effectiveness of targeted grants such as the Class Size Initiative. A new funding model is expected to be in place for the 2020-21 school year.
- Kindergarten to Grade 3 classes averaged 20.4 students in the 2018-19 school year, compared to 21.8 in 2003-04 (the last year before the Class Size Initiative) and 19.7 in 2004-05 (the first year of the initiative).
- Annual school year funding allocations to the Class Size Initiative started at $90 million in 2004-05, growing to $291 million in 2018-19.
- Targeted class size funding accounts for about four per cent of overall funding provided to school boards.
- The report is based on reviews of school board plans for spending the funding grant, interviews with school board and school leadership staff, a comparison of student and board-level outcome data against class size funding allocations, and a literature review of studies on class size impact on student success.