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Alberta teacher survey finds class sizes across province are too large, impacting student learning

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Alberta Teachers’ Association survey finds class sizes across province are too large, impacting student learning
WATCH ABOVE: A survey recently released by the Alberta Teachers' Association finds that class sizes across the province are too large. The ATA says it's having a negative effect on students' abilities to learn, along with their mental health. Chris Chacon explains – Dec 11, 2022

A survey recently released by the Alberta Teachers’ Association finds that class sizes across the province are too large.

The ATA said it’s having a negative effect on students’ abilities to learn, along with their mental health.

For many K-12 students in Alberta, the last few years of learning haven’t been straight forward.

“They’ve been in and out because of illness, schools have been closed then they are open, they are online then they are not online. That has caused a lot disruptions to student learning,” Alberta Teachers’ Association president Jason Schilling said.

He said the survey has pointed out another growing problem.

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“We’re seeing our class sizes grow, and six out of 10 teachers are saying their classes are increasing,” Schilling said.

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According to provincial guidelines, kindergarten to grade three classes should have 17 students. Grades four to six should have 23 students.

The goal in junior high is 25 students and 27 for high school classrooms. But Schilling said that is currently not the case.

‘We’re seeing classes in the 30s and the 40s and we know that it’s not great for student learning to have so many kids in the class trying to get the teachers attention,” Schilling said.

He added increased class sizes are leading to bigger problems than just gaps in learning.

‘Students are struggling with their learning, struggling with their mental health, struggling with social [and] emotional problems,” Schilling said.

And he adds it’s not just students being impacted.

In a statement to Global News, Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange wrote: “Our government is funding education at a record level. We continue to work closely with school boards to alleviate the pressures on teachers by addressing enrollment growth, pandemic learning disruptions and the mental health and wellbeing of all students.

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Budget 2022 provided an overall education funding increase of more than $700 million over the next three years.  School divisions anticipated up to 800 more teachers and principals as well as approximately 800 support staff including teacher assistants will be hired this year.

Alberta Education also provided additional funding to school authorities through a new supplemental enrolment growth grant for school authorities growing by more than two per cent over the previous year.

Additionally, in Budget 2022 we allocated $110 million over three years to address mental health impacts, access to assessments, and learning disruptions. In fact we recently announced we have doubled the funding available for mental health and wellness pilots that are now taking place across the province.

I greatly value and appreciate the work teachers do to support our students and will continue to work with school authorities, the Alberta Teachers Association, and other education stakeholders to ensure we address the needs of our school system.”

Schilling said the ATA is calling for a meeting with the province to address these issues.

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