Ed Management Services

Class Size Reduction – New York City

The school district of the City of New York’s contract must include a plan to reduce average class sizes, as defined by the Commissioner, within five years for the following grade ranges:  pre-kindergarten - third grade; fourth - eight grade; and high school.  It shall be aligned with the capital plan of the district.

  • Option: Creation or construction of more classrooms and school buildings
    • Essential Elements:
      • Ensure that priority is given to Pre-kindergarten through Grade 12 in low performing (schools requiring academic progress or schools in need of improvement or in corrective action or restructuring status) and overcrowded schools.
      • For the 2007-08 school year the district shall report baseline data for the 2006-07 year, stating for each grade level targeted, the number of classes, the average class size and the number of classroom teachers.
      • For the 2007-08 school year, the district shall establish class size reduction goals for each grade level targeted and shall report upon conclusion of such year, measurable progress toward meeting such goals.   
      • Ensure that the classrooms created provide adequate physical space for staff and students.


  • Option: Placement of more than one teacher in a classroom
    • Essential Elements:
      • Ensure that priority is given to Pre-kindergarten through Grade 12 in low performing schools (schools requiring academic progress or schools in need of improvement or in corrective action or restructuring status) and overcrowded schools.
      • For the 2007-08 school year the district shall report the extent to which the assignment of additional teachers reduced the classroom teacher-student ratio for each grade level targeted.   
      • For school years 2008-09 and thereafter, ensure that the number of students in these classrooms does not exceed the kindergarten through grade 12 teacher-student ratio targets prescribed by the Commissioner, after his consideration of the recommendations of an expert panel review.
  • Option: Other methods to reduce the student to teacher ratio.

Moreover, all programs and activities under the option of class size reduction shall:

  • Facilitate student attainment of the NYS learning standards.
  • Predominantly benefit students with the greatest educational needs including, but not limited to: those students with limited English proficiency and students who are English language learners, students in poverty and students with disabilities.
  • Predominantly benefit those students in schools identified as requiring academic progress or in need of improvement or in corrective action or restructuring.
  • Be developed in reference to practices supported by research or other comparable evidence as to their effectiveness in raising achievement.
  • Be accompanied by high quality, sustained professional development focused on content pedagogy, curriculum development and/or instructional design to ensure successful implementation of each program and activity.
  • Be consistent with federal mandates, state law, and regulations governing the education of such students.
  • Be used to supplement, and not supplant, funds allocated by the district in the base year for such purposes.

Federal Law, Regulation, and Guidance:

At this time there is no Federal legislation that directly addresses reduced class size. There are Federal grant programs that support many of the concepts related to class size and improving academic achievement.

No Child Left Behind Title I
Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged, Part A, Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Educational Agencies http://www.ed.gov/programs/titleiparta/index.html  external link
Title I, Part A is intended to help ensure that all children have the opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach proficiency on challenging State academic standards and assessments. Title I provides flexible funding that may be used to provide additional instructional staff, professional development, extended-time programs, and other strategies for raising student achievement in high poverty schools. Title I programs are required to use effective methods and instructional strategies that are grounded in scientifically based research.

New Regulation under Title I regarding accountability of LEP/ELLs: SUMMARY: The Secretary amends the regulations governing the programs administered under Title I, Part A, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA). These regulations are needed to implement statutory provisions regarding State, local educational agency (LEA), and school accountability for the academic achievement of limited English proficient (LEP) students and are needed to implement changes to Title I of the ESEA made by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB Act). http://www.ed.gov/legislation/FedRegister/finrule/2006-3/091306a.html  external link

No Child Left Behind Title II
Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High Quality Teachers and Principals SEC. 201
Title II, Part A- Teacher and Principal Training and Recruiting Fund Program increases student achievement by elevating teacher and principal quality through recruitment, hiring and retention strategies. Funds may also be used to reduce class size. http://www.ed.gov/programs/teacherqual/legislation.html   external link

No Child Left Behind Title V
Title V Part A- Innovative Programs provide districts and schools with additional funding to support high-quality, innovative educational programs. Funding can be used in a broad range of areas to improve academic achievement and the quality of education for students, to improve teacher quality, and to improve school performance.
http://www.ed.gov/programs/innovative/index.html  external link

Federal Guidance
LEAs may reduce class sizes by creating additional classes in a particular grade or subject and placing highly qualified teachers hired with program funds in those classes. However, because of space constraints and other concerns, this is not always feasible. There are other methods of reducing class size that are effective in assisting students in increasing their level of achievement. http://www.ed.gov/programs/teacherqual/guidance.pdf  external link  pdf icon (497KB)

No Child Left Behind Title III
PL 107-110: Guidance on standards, assessments, and accountability for Language Instructional programs for Limited English Proficient and Immigrant Students: Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). http://www.ed.gov/programs/nfdp/NRG1.2.25.03.doc  external link   word icon (217KB)

New York State Education Law and Regulations

Diagnostic Screening of Pupils
CR Part 117: NYS Regulations on Identification and Services to LEP Students – Regulations governing initial identification and services to limited English proficient (LEP) students in New York State. https://www.p12.nysed.gov/biling/bilinged/pub/part117.html

Apportionment and Services for Pupils witih Limited English Proficiency
CR Part 154 Regulations: Amendments to Commissioner’s Regulations Related to NCLB: – Education of Students with Limited English Proficiency as amended by the Board of Regents on July 17, 2003 and effective May 2, 2003. https://www.p12.nysed.gov/biling/bilinged/pub/Part154Amendments.pdf   pdf icon  (81.5KB)

Amendment to the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education pursuant to Sections 101, 207, 3602(37) of the Education Law and Chapter 436 of the Laws of 1997 Section 144.11 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education is added, effective October 27, 1998, as follows:

Continuum of Services for Students with Disabilities
(section 200.6) includes, but not limited to, requirements pertaining to:grouping requirements, appropriate certification requirements, consultant teacher services, related services,
resource room programs, special classes, and twelve-month special services and/or program.

New York State Education Department Guidance Materials:

New York State Early Grade Class Size Reduction Program https://www.p12.nysed.gov/nyc/EGCSR.html

(NOTE: Appropriation for the Early Grade Class Size Reduction Program was not included in the 2007-08 State Budget. Unless funds are made available, this program will terminate at the end of the 2006-07 school year.)

Memo NCLB NYS Field Memo #05- 2006 Updated Fact Sheet with Highlights of the NCLB’s and IDEA’s Requirements for Teachers and Title I Paraprofessionals in New York State

NCLB NYS Field Memos provide guidance on New York State’s implementation of the requirements for teachers and paraprofessionals in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA).
http://www.highered.nysed.gov/mword/nclb052006.doc  word icon  (314KB)

The Teaching of Language Arts to Limited English Proficient/English Language Learners Trilogy https://www.p12.nysed.gov/biling/bilinged/publications.html

Research Studies, Research Reviews and Other Best Evidence:

STAR Study in Tennessee: http://www.heros-inc.org/classsizeresearch.htm external link
The Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR) Project was a large scale, four year experimental study of reduced class size. An overview, summary, fact sheet and results from the STAR study is provided.

SERVE, “How Class Size Makes a Difference,” 2002.
http://www.serve.org/rsi/images/HCSMAD.pdf  external link  pdf icon  (1.1MB)
This publication provides a historical context for landmark class size reduction (CSR) research. It also includes conclusions and recommendations for CSR implementation, project design, classroom instruction, professional development, and research and evaluation.

Jeremy D. Finn et.al., “Small Classes in the Early Grades, Academic Achievement, and Graduating From High School,” Journal of Educational Psychology, 2005. http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/edu-972214.pdf external link  pdf icon  (158KB)
Summary at http://www.apa.org/releases/smallclasses.html external link
This study included 4,948 participants in Tennessee’s Project Star. The analysis showed that graduating was related to K-3 achievement and that attending small classes for three or more years increased the likelihood of graduating from high school.

Jeremy Finn, “Class Size Reduction, Grades K-3,” School Reform Proposals: The Research Evidence, 2002 http:epsl.//asu.edu/epru/documents/EPRU%202002-101/Summary-02.Finn.doc external link  word icon (79KB)
The article provides research findings from four major CSR studies (Tennessee’s STAR Project, Wisconsin’s SAGE Project, Burke County, North Carolina and California). The research demonstrated that the greatest benefits of CSR are shown in early grades, as well as for minority students and those in large urban districts.

Fatih Unlu, “California Class Size Reduction Reform: New Findings from the NAEP,” Nov. 2005
http://www.princeton.edu/  external link
This abstract evaluates the CSR program using student-level achievement data containing test scores prior to and after the program. While the results are consistent with the view that the CSR program has had a positive and significant influence on California students’ achievement scores, this study does not answer the question of whether this program has been cost effective.

Reichardt, R. (2001). Reducing Class Size: Choices and Consequences [policy brief]. Aurora, CO: Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning. http://www.mcrel.org/topics/products/93/  external link
Policy brief that examines different research-based approaches to reducing class size in kindergarten through third grade.

Ivor Pritchard, “Reducing Class Size: What Do We Know?” US Department of Education, 1999 http://www.ed.gov/pubs/ReducingClass/  external link
The research reviews various techniques used to study how class size affects the quality of education. It looks at the relationship between class size and student achievement, and has conducted various kinds of studies related to class size and its possible influences on educational practice. The research looks at what has taken place in many different states.

Implementation Resources:

SERVE, “A Parent’s Guide to Class-Size Reduction,” 2003. http://www.serve.org/rsi/images/PGTCSR.pdf  external link  pdf icon (1.1MB)
A basic introduction, including actions parents can take to encourage class-size reduction at their schools.

Jan O’Neill and Deborah Mercier, “Incredible Shrinking Class Size,” National Staff Development Council, 2003 http://www.nsdc.org/members/jsd/oneill243.pdf  external link  pdf icon  (151KB)
Describes how one school in Wisconsin reduced class size without additional funding.

The National Center on Education in the Inner Cities. “Parents Guide to Class Size Reduction,” 2000. http://www.temple.edu/lss/pdf/ceicreviews/CEICVol9No2.pdf  external link  pdf icon  (137KB)
This research is a compilation presenting next step recommendations and summaries of papers commissioned for the National Center on Education Conference on research and practical knowledge about class size reduction. The work was done by leading scholars and educators in the area of class size reduction and covered studies from around the nation.

Response to Intervention (RTI): How to Do It
This document is written as a tool to assist schools develop an RTI model. It is based on current research from the National Center on Learning Disabilities (NRCLD) and is intended for school staff interested in adopting new strategies to address the needs of students who are struggling or may be at risk of failure in reading/literacy and mathematics. It looks at the essential elements of intervention, including the following key components: School-wide screening, Progress monitoring, Tiered service delivery, Fidelity of implementation. The research to support an RTI approach is strong on primary grade students.
http://www.nysrti.org/docs/RTIManualIntroduction.pdf   external link  pdf icon  (322KB)

Additional resources for information about LEP/ELLs:
Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL):
http://www.cal.org/topics/ell/  external link
CAL conducts projects and offers a variety of research-based resources related to the education of English language learners in a variety of settings:
Prekindergarten-Grade 12 programs
Universities and community colleges
Adult education programs
Workplace programs

Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence (CREDE):
http://crede.berkeley.edu/research/research.html  external link

Teaching Diverse Learners (TDL):
http://www.alliance.brown.edu/tdl/  external link
TDL is a resource dedicated to enhancing the capacity of teachers to work effectively and equitably with English language learners (ELLs). This Web site provides access to information – publications, educational materials, and the work of experts in the field – that promotes high achievement for ELLs.

Last Updated: April 10, 2014