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NYC Public Schools - Class Size Working Group Reports

In 2023, the NYC Public Schools convened a Class Size Working Group to gather input related to implementing Chapter 556 of the Laws of 2022, which mandates smaller class sizes in the New York City school district. 

Read the Class Size Law here.

In late 2023, the Class Size Working Group issued their report BUT there was a large minority of members who dissented because they realized the harmful inequities that would penalize the neediest communities. So they wrote their own report - the Minority Report. 

Independent Reports

NYC Independent Budget Office

How Would The New Limits To Class Sizes Affect New York City Schools?

July 2023

The new law amends the Contracts for Excellence law, passed in 2007, following the resolution of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case. In that law, class size reduction was one of six eligible uses of Contracts for Excellence funds, provided as a set-aside within Foundation Aid from the state to school districts. This legislation is specifically focused on class size reduction and does not provide additional funding to meet the new requirements.

Center for New York City Affairs

Do the Math: As the Budget Ax Falls, NYC Schools Face Major New Costs


"...the 2022 class size law itself included no new State funds to meet this new State mandate."

Urban Institute

Class Size Reductions May Be Inequitably Distributed under a New Mandate in New York City


"New York governor Kathy Hochul signed a law in September 2022 that requires schools in New York City to reduce their class sizes to no more than 20 students in grades K–3, 23 students in grades 4–8, and 25 students in high school over the next five years. New York City has already met the law’s requirement that at least 20 percent of classes comply with the new caps in the upcoming school year but will have to reduce class sizes to attain 100 percent compliance by 2027–28. But this law raises questions about how it will be implemented and how it will affect resource equity across the city.

...The law provides breathing room for New York City policymakers focused on equity by directing them to initially target schools enrolling a larger share of students from low-income families for class size reductions. But as the full implementation deadline of 2027–28 approaches, an across-the-board class size mandate will pose challenges to policymakers seeking to distribute education resources equitably rather than equally."

Hechinger Report

PROOF POINTS: Pandemic relief money is flowing to class-size reduction but research evidence for it isn’t strong

June 7, 2021

The Tennessee “STAR” (an acronym for Student-Teacher Achievement Ratio) experiment became one of the most widely cited studies in education research. Its success was replicated in Wisconsin in the 1990s. But large statewide efforts in California and Florida failed.

...Tiny benefits from expensive class size reduction efforts are common. Even when some classrooms in Minnesota fell by 10 students, a large reduction, researchers discovered almost minuscule gains in reading in math. “Class size reductions are unlikely to lead to sizable increases in student learning,” the authors of that 2012 study wrote.

News Articles

NYC parents worry students will be turned away from high-performing district under call to cut class sizes

NY Post, 2/18/2024

The group of perturbed parents in District 26 in northern Queens are particularly concerned that a proposed cap on enrollment to comply with the law could prevent their kids from attending their neighborhood school.

“If there are enrollment caps to comply with class-size law, where are the kids going to school? Kids can’t attend their neighborhood school. That’s kind of crazy,” said parent Albert Suhu, president of CEC 26.

NYC schools commission deeply divided over complying with class size law

Gothamist, 12/7/2023

"But there’s a faction within the group that is unwilling to sign on to those recommendations.

'In terms of actionable, practicable recommendations, it’s more of a wish list,' said Alexander."


Smaller Classes? At Elite Schools, Some Parents Say ‘No Thanks.’

NY Times, 10/18/2023

"At New York’s high schools, classrooms would shrink to 25 students over the next several years, down from 34, coming close to class sizes in some suburban districts.... A growing number of families who want their children to attend the city’s most selective institutions, including its coveted crown jewels like Stuyvesant and Bronx Science, worry their odds could decrease at popular schools with packed classes and little extra space."

Class size reduction law problematic, reduces ‘equity’ for NYC’s neediest kids: report

NY Post, 10/3/2023

“ 'I don’t think the research on class size is strong enough to support the state telling local schools what their class sizes should be. Instead, district/schools should decide how to allocate resources between class size, teacher salaries, non-teaching staff, etc,' Urban Institute vice president Matthew Chingos told The Post Sunday. 'If a state is going to pass a class size law, then it should target it to the most disadvantaged students if its goal is to narrow achievement gaps. That would be the sensible thing to do,' he said."​

Betty Rosa, New York’s top education official, raises equity concerns over class size law

Chalkbeat, 8/17/2023


"Rosa said the equity implications of the law are “a problem,” as lower-need schools are more likely to have larger class sizes that violate the new caps and will therefore disproportionately benefit from the policy... The law does not come with new funding earmarked to reduce class sizes, raising the possibility of difficult tradeoffs, such as cuts to other schools or programs."

NYC must slash class sizes under a new law. The neediest schools stand to benefit least.

Chalkbeat, 8/17/2023


"At overcrowded schools that need more classroom space to reduce class sizes, the School Construction Authority estimated the costs could run tens of billions of dollars. But since the state has not earmarked new funding attached to the class size law, it remains unclear how the city will pay for it. Experts warn of difficult tradeoffs. Additional dollars spent reducing class sizes on lower-need campuses could instead be directed to the city’s highest-need schools — to, say, hire more tutors to combat pandemic learning loss or additional social workers to address student mental health challenges."

Does class size really matter? A Chalkbeat look at the research.

Chalkbeat, 6/10/2022

"Chalkbeat revisited the research on these questions. The key takeaways: Students often do better in smaller classes. But there’s no agreement on exactly how much better, and it remains an open question whether or not class size reduction is a particularly good use of funds that could go elsewhere.​ All told, 'the impact of smaller classes would depend on many factors,; said Northwestern University economist Diane Schanzenbach, 'including whether funds are reduced for other student supports, the quality of the newly hired teachers needed to staff the smaller classes, and adequate availability of classroom space.' ”

Class Sizes Set to Shrink in New York City Schools, but at What Cost?

NY Times, 6/3/2022

"'There is no reason to believe that the program itself will have the pedagogical effect that people want,' said Andrew Rein, the president of the Citizens Budget Commission, a nonpartisan fiscal watchdog. 'And it might have unintended negative consequences because money has to be shifted from other programs.'”

Editorials & Op-eds

Class size cap just won’t work: NYC schools will suffer from Albany mandate

NY Daily News, 10/1/2023


"Lowering class sizes sounds amazing at face value. However the reality, as evidenced in NYCPS data, is that many of the most overcrowded classes in the city are in many of the highest-performing schools. And while most of us would agree that more personal attention and the physical space for exploration in the classroom are objective goods, it is deceptively simple to call for action and pass a law that sounds great on paper. But in public policy, the game is won or lost over a period of many years and outcomes must be subject to strict weighing of the costs against the benefits achieved."

Sizing up a bad law: NYC mandate to reduce class size is a mistake

NY Daily News Editorial Board, 12/14/2023


"Any New Yorker who’s supportive of the inflexible new state unfunded mandate requiring the city to bring down class sizes to 20 students in kindergarten through third grade, 23 students in fourth through eighth grade and 25 students in high school should read the new report by a new advisory panel of the city’s Department of Education. It outlines a host of adjustments — we mean very bad, necessary steps — necessary to make compliance with the law possible."

Class-size cap proves the UFT couldn’t care less about students

NY Post Editorial Board, 12/4/2023


"Sticking firmly to its principles, the Urban Institute has exposed the state’s Big Apple-only class-size mandate as reducing “equity” for the city’s neediest studentsThe law will force the city to add teachers more to already high-performing schools than to low-performing ones — which means the class-size mandate isn’t about improving education, but about adding more union members.

...Public schools serving low-income black and Hispanic kids largely already meet the teachers-per-student mandates, the UI notes — so the money spent on extra teachers will mainly go to schools serving better-off families."

No one’s telling the truth about the class-size law: It hurts kids and ONLY helps the UFT

NY Post Editorial Board, 3/23/2023

"That is, fewer children being taught by the best, veteran teachers, and fewer kids in the better schools. This may well mean fewer students getting the chance to learn at the city’s elite high schools: The buildings that house Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech and Bronx Science have fixed numbers of classrooms, after all. More perversity: Rapidly increasing the size of the teaching corps can’t help but dilute its quality."

The class-size law is about to cause misery for countless city public-school families

NY Post Opinion, 3/22/2024


"One of its biggest problems is that it fails to take into account a simple math problem: Some districts are so overcrowded there aren’t enough seats within the district. 

Last year, a NYC Public Schools working group recommended cutting enrollment at oversubscribed schools but didn’t resolve the lack of seats within districts.

And though the idea of “more evenly allocating enrollment across all schools” sounds simple, it implies rezoning schools and sending students to emptier, further-away schools, with longer commutes for children and degraded quality of life for families."

Fix the Class Size Law

Little Africa News, Op-ed 4/19/2024


Have you heard of the Class Size Law? Not many have, let alone parents. It’s a law that was sponsored by Senator John Liu and signed in 2022 by Governor Kathy Hochul. While smaller class sizes sound appealing, it’s about to cause more pain to families throughout the city because of the unintended consequences. 

...It requires all grade K-3 classes to be limited (or “capped”) at 20 students, all grade 4-6 classes capped at 23 students and all grade 9-12 classes capped at 25, so when students begin to apply to elementary, middle, and high school next fall, the admissions process will start to look really ugly because schools will have to reduce the number of available seats at their schools to comply with the law. Fewer seats will mean a lower chance your child will be admitted to the school of your choice. If parents hate the lottery for admissions process now, it will only get worse.

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