After in kindergarten through third grade starting this August, the Pleasanton Unified School District sent out this statement:
These are very challenging times for public education. Due to the elimination of Class Size Reduction, the Pleasanton Unified School District will have class sizes of 30 students for grades one through three beginning in August. Prior to the implementation of CSR, students in grades one through three attended school on a staggered schedule with about half of the students coming early and leaving early and the other half coming later and leaving later to reduce class size during reading instruction.
The skills of reading and writing form the basis of all future learning. Learning to read is a highly personal, challenging and at times, difficult task. It is critical that all of our students learn how to read, write and think well in our global society. Research on reading tells us that teachers need to provide reading instruction in small, flexible, skill-based groups. A staggered reading schedule will allow for groups of 15 students rather than 30 students for a portion of daily reading instruction.
A staggered reading schedule allows teachers to focus not only on students who are struggling to learn but also provides on-going opportunities for extension and enrichment for our high achieving students.
The decision to implement a staggered reading schedule was not made lightly.
The Governing Board met on June 5th to consider program restorations that were made possible by employee group concessions. The restoration of Class Size Reduction was not possible because of the high cost of this program. As a result, staff worked with school principals and teachers to develop a plan to reduce class sizes for at least part of the day for reading instruction in grades one through three. The District notified parents of the change for next year as soon as we were able to so that parents and families can begin to plan. As we move forward, the District will be exploring supervision options for this fall.
Teachers and administrators agree that having 30 students in each classroom in grades one through three presents challenges for effective teaching. Carving out 45 minutes per day four days per week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) is critical for high-quality reading instruction to take place. During these staggered blocks of time, students will get the personal attention and support they need in smaller groups for optimal reading and writing instruction.
What are your thoughts? Tell us in the comments.