(My clever blog post title was going to be “When Is Bigger Not Always Better?”  Safer to go with the more clear, less snappy description. Humor is wasted on Google’s Search Engine.)

The Twitterverse has requested an EVEN LARGER list of the LARGEST class sizes from the 2011-2012 school year within the Apples 2 Apples data set.  And, as the kids are sleeping peacefully, I can deliver.

However! Let’s talk about a few things first.

Student:Teacher Ratios do not equal Class Sizes

When you open some CPS reports (or even access parts of the website) and see “Student:Teacher Ratio,” please remember that this is not at all referring to class sizes.  Student:Teacher Ratio takes the number of school staff qualified to teach (this might include an assistant principal, principal, bilingual teacher, etc.) and divide them by the total number of students.

This is how Lorca Elementary can have a student: teacher ratio of 20:1 on the CPS budget sheet:

And have actual class sizes of 34.5 students across the entire 5th-grade class.  As you will see.

CPS recommended maximum class sizes

These are difficult to locate on the CPS website.  They are hinted at here and there in passing unless you really dig around to find them.

Of course! There they were the whole time in a PDF called Chicago Public Schools Policy Manual, Sec. 301.2, which also outlines some very specific remedies for the problems of exceeding class size maximums (remedies which are not very helpful since they aren’t required remedies.)

Unfortunately, many classrooms in CPS elementary schools barrel past the recommended maximums fairly often as you’ll see in this data. 

Out of 474 schools in this Apples 2 Apples dataset, 325 CPS Elementary schools have ENTIRE GRADES of classrooms over the recommended maximum.

(By the way, I was interpreting “primary level” as K-3. If the primary level means K-5, please let me know and I’ll run these numbers again.)

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