Doug Ford May Cancel Cap on Class Sizes


There may be more students coming to Ontario classrooms if the Ford government gets their way (which based on current trends they probably will).

Minister of Education Lisa Thompson announced the launching of a consultation process with teachers' federations, education worker unions and trustees' associations to “begin discussing ways to improve teacher hiring practices, while also seeking feedback on class sizes in kindergarten to Grade 12,” the ministry said in this statement.

As the statement saids, the province is looking into the cap on class sizes, as well as other issues such as teacher mobility, reviewing the elements school boards should take into account when inviting candidates for interviews to ensure quality candidates, and reviewing hiring decisions made by school boards to ensure more transparent hiring practices.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath issued this statement raising concerns how kids could be left behind with a potential class size increase.

"Classrooms are often already crowded and if class sizes grow, teachers will be stretched even thinner," said Horwath. "Behavioural challenges will become harder to control. Meeting the needs of multiple learning-ability levels will become even more difficult. More students will fall through the cracks if class sizes get any bigger — we can't let Doug Ford do that to kids."

The cap on class sizes is what stands out. Under the provincial Education Act, the average cap on classes is 26, in JK and kindergarten is 29, with an average of no more than 25 in classes from Grades 4-8. The class size cap was brought in by the previous Liberal government dating back to Dalton McGuinty when the former premier led the Liberals to winning the 2003 election.

report on reviewing Ontario's public services commissioned by that previous government recommended cancelling the cap on class sizes, noticing the rising costs associated with implementation while yielding little results in enhancing quality of education.

“In 2004-05, when primary class sizes were funded at an average of 24.5 students per class, the ministry provided a $90 million, primary class-size reduction grant as a first step to reducing class sizes to 20 students or fewer. By 2009-10, this grant had increased to over $430 million,” the report states, adding that investments in lower class sizes do not provide the greatest possible benefit and ‘raising teacher quality’ would be more effective.

This report was released under the Liberal government but the recommendation to end class size caps was never acted upon while they were in office.

The logic behind lowering class sizes is seen to be positive because the less students there are, the more attention a teacher can pay to individual students. But the author Malcolm Gladwell (in his book David vs. Goliath) has found that both large and smaller class sizes can have negative outcomes, such as impaired learning, according to this blog reviewing Gladwell’s findings.

Do you think the Ontario government should end the cap on class sizes?

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