RD9 - Status of the Kindergarten Through Third Grade Class Size Reduction Program
BACKGROUND: PRIMARY CLASS SIZE REDUCTIONPROGRAM BEGANIN THE 1994-96 BIENNIUM
• This incentive-based program began in the 1994-1996 biennium with the first appropriation of $38.7 million being made in fiscal year 1995.
• The objective of the program was to provide additional funding as an "incentive" for school divisions to reduce their class sizes in grades kindergarten through three below the required class sizes established in the Standards of Quality (SOQ).
• The SOQ for the 1994-1996 biennium required division-wide student to teacher ratios of 25 to 1 with no class being larger than 30. At the kindergarten level, an aide was required in any class that was larger than 25 students.
• This program provided a means for school divisions to acquire state support to reduce class sizes below the levels required by the SOQ.
• The program was initiated as a result of the recommendations of the Commission on Educational Opportunities for All Virginians.
BACKGROUND: VOLUNTARY PARTICIPATION SUCCESS LEADS TO EXPANSION OF THE PROGRAM AND ULTIMATELY TO A REDUCTIONIN THE SOQ PUPIL TEACHER RATIOS
• The 1998 General Assembly made significant changes to the program for the 1998-2000 biennium based on the widespread participation in the program.
• First, the program was expanded to make it available to all schools with grades Kindergarten through three.
• Second, the range of student to teacher ratios was expanded from three levels to eight levels to soften the transition from one tier to the next and to include a tier for all schools regardless of the free lunch rate.
• This expansion also further reduced the pupil to teacher ratios and maximum class size caps that were available to schools.
• In 1999, recognizing that all schools were participating in the program at a reduced class size of at least 24 to 1, the General Assembly passed legislation to reduce the SOQ required student to teacher ratio to 24 to 1 in kindergarten through the third grade. This change was effective July 1, 2000.