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ERIC Number: ED570350
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Jun
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Reducing Class Size in New York City: Promise vs. Practice
Farrie, Danielle; Johnson, Monete; Lecker, Wendy; Luhm, Theresa
Education Law Center
In the landmark school funding litigation, "Campaign for Fiscal Equity v. State" ("CFE"), the highest Court in New York recognized that reasonable class sizes are an essential element of a constitutional "sound basic education." In response to the rulings in the case, in 2007, the Legislature adopted a law mandating that New York City develop and implement a class size reduction plan for all grade levels. Unfortunately, as the policy brief explains in detail, little progress has been made. The Department of Education's (DOE) own class size reports show that the district is actually losing ground. Given the well known benefits of reduced class sizes, particularly for low-income students, there needs to be a renewed effort to get the policy back on track. For years, elected officials have used the lagging economy as an excuse for their failure to enforce the class size reduction law. Now that there is a healthy fiscal environment, with both the city and state enjoying substantial budget surpluses, the time to recommit and reduce class size has arrived. This report provides a framework for moving the issue forward including the following action steps: (1) DOE needs to issue a five-year class size reduction plan with specific annual class size targets along with sufficient funding to achieve those goals; (2) In the longer term, the DOE should extend this plan to schools citywide, and for all grades, as the law requires, while adopting a school construction plan to ensure there is sufficient space; (3) The New York State Education Department should refuse to approve any city plan unless it includes specific targets in specific schools along with sufficient funding to achieve them. The State should also maintain strict oversight to ensure that it achieves these goals; and (4) More support and resources should be provided to advocates and stakeholder groups by foundations and other funding sources to encourage engagement and activism around the need for smaller classes in New York City's schools. Reducing class size is one of the most important tools available to improve educational outcomes, especially for low-income children and students of color. It has been proven to improve achievement levels, boost high school graduation rates and increase the likelihood that students will attend college.
Education Law Center. 60 Park Place Suite 300, Newark, NJ 07102. Tel: 973-624-1815; Fax: 973-624-7339; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Education Law Center
Identifiers - Location: New York; New York (New York)