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December 19, 2006 > Smaller classes, more instruction time in '07-'08

Smaller classes, more instruction time in '07-'08

Middle school students will have smaller classes and more learning time each day through a co-operative effort between the New Haven Unified School District and the
New Haven Teachers Association.

Using approximately $870,000 set aside per agreement with NHTA for class-size reduction, the District will hire up to 12 new teachers at the middle school level, starting in the 2007-08 school year, effectively reducing the staffing ratio to 25-to-1.

At the same time, class periods will be extended to 50 minutes, giving students the equivalent of 34 more instructional days each year in subjects such as math and science.

The announcement was made jointly by District Superintendent Dr. Pat Jaurequi and NHTA President Charmaine Kawaguchi.

"By working together, the Association and the District have come up with a win-win situation for both students and teachers that will give us smaller classes," Mrs. Kawaguchi said.

"Improving the staffing ratio and giving our teachers and students more time to cover subject matter each day are significant steps toward improving student achievement - and it's important to note that the District and the Association have taken these steps together," Dr. Jaurequi said.

Students at the District's three middle schools - Alvarado, Barnard-White and Cesar Chavez - will take six classes per day, instead of seven, but classes will be eight minutes longer than under the current 42-minute period schedule. That means 1,440 more minutes per class per year, the equivalent of 34 more days of instruction under the current model.

"Seat time" for students will increase from 297 to 305 minutes per day, but without increasing demands on teachers. In fact, teachers will have more time for individual students as the effective staffing ratio improves to 25-to-1. Contractually, the staffing ratio at the middle school level is 30-to-1, although the District for the past two years has staffed the middle schools at 28-to-1.

Increasing instructional minutes and improving staffing ratios will help schools meet the goal of having 85 percent of students proficient in English/language arts and math by 2010, one of the objectives identified in the Strategic Plan jointly developed last year by New Haven students, parents, teachers, classified employees, administrators and community members.

A joint committee made up of teachers selected by the NHTA and District administrators, including the three middle school principals, will work out details of the new schedule.

"With any new endeavor there will be challenges, but we're committed to making this work and to doing it together," Dr. Jaurequi said. School Site Councils will be asked to contribute to the process, she added, "to make sure we've heard from the parent community as well."

"The bottom line for all of us," Mrs. Kawaguchi said, "is that we want what's best for children."

 
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