Class size and complexity

Smaller classes create more opportunities for one-on-one interaction between teachers and students, greater individualization and enhanced student engagement.

The most important role of teachers is building strong, meaningful and professional relationships with students.

Research supports small classes: “The academic literature strongly supports the common-sense notion that class size is an important determinant of student outcomes.”

In 2002, the Alberta Commission on Learning (ACOL) was struck to conduct a comprehensive review of Alberta’s K-12 education system. The commission’s report recommended that the following targets should be established for class size averages in Alberta:

  • K – Grade 3: 17 students
  • Grades 4 – 6: 23 students
  • Grades 7 – 9: 25 students
  • Grades 10 – 12: 27 students

Last school year, 81 per cent of K – 3 classes were larger than the ACOL guidelines and all but five school jurisdictions exceeded the target set by ACOL. These averages also don’t fairly represent the large number of classes that are significantly larger than the average. Since 2002, the proportion of core classes with 40 or more students have grown by 600 per cent.

Alberta’s classrooms are also increasingly complex with the inclusion of more second language learners and students with special needs compared to classrooms elsewhere in the world. Classrooms are also impacted by the effects of poverty, family break-up, mental health, technology and other social and cultural factors.

How will candidates for office support optimal classroom conditions that support student learning?