From SPS to parents:
Dear SPS Family,
Class sizes will be smaller
for students in kindergarten through third grade beginning this fall,
thanks to funding from the 2016 Legislature. The funding comes with
strict class-size requirements for the primary grades. These
requirements must be followed in order to receive the funding.
Previously, schools were allowed to assign teachers as needed across
grades K-5. Under the new funding model, instructional staff will be
allocated across grades K-3 at specific ratios. These ratios mean small
class sizes in grades K-3, but may also mean more split-grade-level
classrooms. A split-grade-level classroom consists of two grade levels;
for example, 10 second-graders and 10 third-graders in a single
classroom of 20 total students.
already exist in Seattle and other districts, but we anticipate more of
them this fall. Last year, Seattle Public Schools staffed to have no
more than two split-grade-level classrooms per school. This new funding
means that this fall, schools may have three or four split classrooms,
depending upon the enrollment at each school. Lower class-size funding
can be used creatively. For example, a certificated teacher could be
hired as a learning specialist and work with classroom teachers in the
K-3 grades to help with student academic needs. Principals are working
on how best to use the new funding according to state requirements.
Q & A
What’s the difference between a split-grade-level classroom and a multi-age classroom?
Multi-age classes are created to differentiate based on achievement
levels in areas such as reading and math. Split classrooms are created
due to an uneven or insufficient number of students in two separate
grade levels, which are combined into one classroom.
Why might there be more split-grade-level classrooms in 2016-17?
Because the state funding requires smaller class sizes, many schools may
not have sufficient enrollments to make up full classes at each grade
level. For every student the district is over the ratios, the district
loses money. Adherence to the strict state class-size ratios may create
more split-grade-level classes.
Are split-grade-level classrooms a challenge for students and teachers?
Split-grade-level classrooms in Seattle and other districts are not
unusual; schools typically have one or more split-grade-level classrooms
in the building. Split-grade-level classrooms do require teachers to
use their skills, training and materials to teach two grades in the same
room. Learning specialists funded through this initiative may provide
Will teachers receive training to manage split-grade-level classrooms?
Yes, professional development is planned to support educators who will
be teaching split-grade-level classrooms. Teachers in the district
already experienced with instructing students in a split classroom will
be utilized for their expertise.
How do schools decide which classes will be split-grade-level classes?
During the spring budget process, principals were given instructions on
how to configure classrooms to meet the required state-determined K-3
class-size targets. Their decisions will depend in part on enrollment
numbers through early fall.