On 18 October 2019, the Alberta Ministry of Education released the Class Size Initiative Review. This review claimed that the province’s Class Size Initiative, started in 2004 to address public concerns over Alberta’s increasing class sizes, was ineffective in its intended goal. This conclusion served as the predicate to terminate the program in the 2019-20 provincial budget, released less than a week later. However, the Ministry’s analysis was superficial and underutilized the extensive fifteen years of class size data collected by the program. The review reached several easily refutable conclusions that undermine the credibility and objectivity of the Ministry’s analysis. In response to these deficiencies, Support our Students Alberta performed our own, more detailed and thorough analysis: we leveraged the depth of data collected in the Class Size Information System, constructing computer models and simulations to investigate the effectiveness of the Class Size Initiative, factors influencing class size, forecasted effects, and possible resolution strategies.
Our analysis determined that, had 2900 teachers not been hired and retained as part of the Class Size Initiative, the proportion of K-3 public students enrolled in 2018 in a class size of 23 or more would be at least 87%, compared to its actual 2018 value of 37%. The funding more than halves the number of K-3 students that would be in a class size of 30 or more, from almost 3000 to 1300.
Any solution to restore the Class Size Index to 2007-era levels for K-3 metropolitan students would require the addition of at least 390 K-3 classrooms in Calgary and Edmonton, or an approximately a 10% increase from the number of 2018 K-3 classes.
Our modelling shows that without increases to the number of K-3 classes beyond 2018, by 2023, provincially, the proportion of K-3 students in a class size of 23 or higher would be at least 50%, up from the 2018 proportion of 37%.