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Class Size

Frequently Asked Questions

In November 2002, Florida’s voters approved a state constitutional amendment (article IX, section 1) setting limits for the maximum number of students in a classroom by the start of the 2010-11 school year. These limits (class-size maximums) apply to individual classes, so that, by fall 2010, no classroom in which a core course is taught may contain more students than allowed by the constitutional limits. The class-size limits apply to classes in three grade groupings as follows:

Grade Group
Maximum Number of Students Allowed in a Core Class by Fall 2010

K – 3
18

4 – 8
22

9 – 12
25

The amendment requires the Florida Legislature to make provisions to ensure that school districts and schools comply with the class-size requirements. Although school districts had until fall 2010 to reach full compliance, the amendment has required districts with class sizes exceeding the limits to demonstrate measurable progress toward reducing class size since the 2003-04 school year.

The full text of the class-size reduction constitutional amendment is provided at: http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/5164/urlt/amendment-classsize.pdf

The 2011 legislature amended section 1003.03, Florida Statutes (F.S.), in section 15 of chapter 2011-55, Laws of Florida (L.O.F.), providing class-size flexibility to schools that enroll students after the October student membership survey. If a district school board determines that it is impractical, educationally unsound or disruptive to student learning, students may be temporarily assigned to a class that exceeds the maximums cited above. Up to three students may be assigned to a teacher in grade group K-3. Up to five students may be assigned to a teacher in grade groups 4-8 and 9-12. The district school board must develop a plan that provides that the school will be in full compliance by the next October student survey.

In 2003, the Florida Legislature enacted chapter 2003-391, L.O.F., which implements the provisions of the class-size amendment and defines the progress that districts must make in reducing class size. The law substantially revised section 1003.03, F.S., and created section 1011.685, F.S., which established the class size operating categorical fund. Other sections of law were amended to fully implement the constitutional requirement.

Districts with class sizes that exceeded the constitutional class-size maximums had to reduce class size by at least two students per year until 2010-11 (or until reaching compliance with the constitutional maximums) according to the following schedule and measures:

2003-04 to 2005-06
Progress toward class-size reduction was measured using average class size for grade groups K-3, 4-8 and 9-12 at the district level. Districts with average class sizes exceeding the constitutional maximums must have reduced the average class size for each applicable grade grouping by at least two students per year until their class-size averages no longer exceeded the constitutional maximums.

2006-07 to 2009-10
Progress toward class-size reduction was measured at the school level. Each school with average class sizes exceeding the constitutional maximums must have reduced its average class size for each applicable grade grouping by at least two students per year or until its class-size averages no longer exceeded the constitutional maximums.

2010-11
Class-size reduction was measured at the classroom level. Class-size counts documented classrooms in which the number of students exceeded the constitutional maximums and included the number of students in excess of the constitutional maximums for each of these classes. Required progress for each school was based on these counts.

A class is identified as a course/section combination with one or more teachers scheduled in a particular room, in a particular school, in a specified term, and during a specific period and day of the week. The count of students meeting for that class section constitutes the class size.

Courses in academic areas that are defined as core-curricula courses are included in the class-size calculation. Core-curricula courses are defined by grade groups. The following definitions may be found in section 1003.01, F.S.:

Courses in academic areas that are defined as core-curricula courses are included in the class-size calculation. Core-curricula courses are defined by grade groups. The following definitions may be found in section 1003.01, F.S.:

(14) “Core-curricula courses” means:

     (a) Courses in language arts/reading, mathematics, social studies, and science in prekindergarten through grade 3, excluding any extracurricular courses pursuant to subsection (15);
     (b) Courses in grades 4 through 8 in subjects that are measured by state assessment at any grade level and courses required for middle school promotion, excluding any extracurricular courses pursuant to subsection (15);
     (c) Courses in grades 9 through 12 in subjects that are measured by state assessment at any grade level and courses that are specifically identified by name in statute as required for high school graduation and that are not measured by state assessment, excluding any extracurricular courses pursuant to subsection (15);
     (d) Exceptional student education courses; and
     (e) English for Speakers of Other Languages courses.

The term is limited in meaning and used for the sole purpose of designating classes that are subject to the maximum class size requirements established in s. 1, Art. IX of the State Constitution. This term does not include courses offered under ss. 1002.321(4)(e), 1002.33(7)(a)2.b., 1002.37, 1002.415, 1002.45, and 1003.499, F.S.

(15) “Extracurricular courses” means all courses that are not defined as “core-curricula courses,” which may include, but are not limited to, physical education, fine arts, performing fine arts, career education, and courses that may result in college credit. The term is limited in meaning and used for the sole purpose of designating classes that are not subject to the maximum class size requirements established in s. 1, Art. IX of the State Constitution.

No. Blended courses are exempt from inclusion in the calculation of class-size compliance, pursuant to section 1003.01(14), F.S.

No. Virtual education courses are exempt from inclusion in the calculation of class-size compliance, pursuant to section 1003.01(14), F.S.

Yes. ESE courses are considered core-curricula courses.

The amendment pertains to core courses. Courses outside the core curriculum, such as physical education classes and fine arts classes, are not included. An elective course can be a core course if it falls under one of the classifications listed in the response to question 5. In section 15, chapter 2011-55, L.O.F., the 2011 legislature assigned responsibility to the Florida Department of Education to specify core-curricula courses.

The maximum number of students in each public school prekindergarten school-year class is 20 students, pursuant to section 1002.63(7), F.S. Each school-year prekindergarten class in a public school composed of 4-11 students must have at least one prekindergarten instructor who meets each requirement in section 1002.55(3)(c), F.S. Each school-year prekindergarten class composed of 12 or more students must have, in addition to a prekindergarten instructor who meets the requirements of section 1002.55(3)(c), F.S., at least one adult prekindergarten instructor who is not required to meet those requirements, but who must meet each requirement of section 1002.63(5), F.S.

“Average class size” means the average number of students per class for a specified group of classes. Average class size is measured by adding the number of students assigned to each class in a specified group of classes and dividing this compiled number of students by the number of classes in the group.

A student/teacher ratio does not provide class-size information insofar as the ratio is derived by dividing the number of a school’s (or district’s) students in membership by the number of staff who are classified as teachers at the school (or district). Student/teacher ratios do not account for the number of classes taught during the day or how many students are assigned to each of the classes. Thus, student/teacher ratios do not provide information based on class-level data.

Average class size, on the other hand, is based on counts of students assigned to specific classes.

Yes. The 2010 legislature clarified that charter schools must comply with section 1003.03, F.S., relating to maximum class size, except that the calculation for compliance is for the school average by grade group.

Yes. The 2013 legislature revised section 1002.31(9), F.S., requiring district-operated schools of choice to comply with section 1003.03, F.S., relating to maximum class size, with the calculation for compliance at the school average by grade group.

Compliance with the class-size amendment is determined from student course records submitted to the department from the October student membership survey.

The steps for calculating class size are summarized as follows:

  1. Count the number of students in each class within each room/period.
  2. For students reported multiple times in a single room/period combination, count each student only once. Students are occasionally assigned to more than one course for a class, e.g., ESE students enrolled in both an ESE course and mainstream course for a given class period.
  3. Determine main course taught in each room/period based on the course with the majority of students.
  4. Determine the main grade taught in each room/period based on the grade with the majority of students in the main course.
  5. Determine whether or not the main course is a “core” course.
  6. Count the number of unduplicated students in each room/period, allowing for adjustments based on scheduling method.

The steps for calculating class size are summarized as follows:

  1. Count the number of students in each class within each room/period.
  2. For students reported multiple times in a single room/period combination, count each student only once. Students are occasionally assigned to more than one course for a class, e.g., ESE students enrolled in both an ESE course and mainstream course for a given class period.
  3. Determine the main course taught in each room/period based on the course with the majority of students.
  4. Determine the main grade taught in each room/period based on the grade with the majority of students in the main course.
  5. Determine whether or not the main course is a “core” course.
  6. Determine the numerator by compiling the total unduplicated count of students based on the main grade of each class for which the main course is “core,” allowing for adjustments based on scheduling method. Then, add up these student counts for all classes.
  7. Determine the denominator by counting all classes in which the main course is “core.”
  8. Calculate the class size for each grade group range of the school (K-3, 4-8, 9-12) by dividing the numerator (student count) by the denominator (class count).

If more than one teacher is responsible for all of the students in a classroom, the total number of students in the classroom is divided by the number of teachers assigned to these students to determine class size.

No. Teacher aides are not counted in the class-size calculation.

  • Provide dual enrollment courses at state/community colleges.
  • Provide for enrollment in courses offered by the Florida Virtual School and other virtual instruction options.
  • Repeal school board policies that require students to have more than the state-required level of 24 credits to graduate from high school.
  • Allow students to graduate from high school as soon as they pass the grade 10 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and complete the courses required for high school graduation.
  • Use methods to maximize use of instructional staff, such as changing required teaching loads and scheduled planning periods, deploying district employees who have professional certification to the classrooms and using adjunct educators.
  • Use methods to reduce the cost of school construction.
  • Use joint-use facilities through partnerships with state/community colleges, state universities, and private colleges and universities.
  • Adopt alternative methods of class scheduling, such as block scheduling.
  • Redraw school attendance zones to maximize use of facilities while minimizing the need for transportation.
  • Operate schools beyond the normal operating hours to provide classes in the evening or operate more than one session of school during the day.
  • Use year-round schools and other nontraditional calendars that do not adversely impact annual assessment of student achievement.
  • Review and consider amending any collective bargaining contracts that hinder the implementation of class-size reduction.
  • Use any other approach not prohibited by law.

Since the 2003-04 fiscal year, the Florida Legislature has provided funds to reduce the average number of students in each classroom until no classroom exceeds the class-size requirements. Article IX, section 1 of the Florida Constitution requires the legislature to make provisions for the implementation of class-size requirements.

To see how much funding has been provided to school districts to date, please see: http://www.fldoe.org/classsize/

Federal funds may be used to supplement, not supplant, state and local funds to meet the requirements of the class-size reduction amendment. The district must be able to provide appropriate documentation for auditors to review if federal funds are used for this purpose.

FISH stands for Florida Inventory of School Houses. A FISH number is assigned to each physical classroom in which students are taught. The class-size calculation uses FISH numbers to identify classrooms. The Educational Facilities Information System assigns and coordinates the FISH identification numbers for all classrooms. Please see http://www.fldoe.org/finance/edual-facilities/fl-inventory-of-school-houses-fish.stml for more information.

Yes. For each district that is out of compliance with class-size requirements, section 1003.03(4), F.S., requires the department to calculate a reduction in the district’s class-size allocation. Class-size funds are then reallocated to districts that are fully in compliance with class-size requirements.

Pursuant to section 1003.03(4)(e), F.S., each district that has not complied with class-size requirements must submit by February 1 a class-size compliance plan, certified by the district school board, that describes the specific actions the district will take to fully comply with class-size requirements by October of the following school year.

The following template may be used by districts that need to develop a class-size compliance plan (districts are not required to use this template):

http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/7603/urlt/1415ClassSizeReducAttach4.pdf (PDF)

Districts should send their board-certified class-size compliance plans to K12Verify@fldoe.org.

Yes. Section 1003.03(4)(c), F.S., authorizes the commissioner to recommend an alternate reduction amount if there is evidence that class-size requirements were not met despite appropriate efforts to do so or because of an extreme emergency. A district or charter school may appeal to the commissioner by submitting evidence documenting why the class-size requirements were not met. The appeal should be based on extenuating circumstances, such as data reporting errors. Such appeals are considered on a case-by-case basis.

The deadline for submitting appeals and all supporting documentation to the commissioner is in mid-December. Appeals on the basis of data reporting errors should be submitted through the web application at http://web04.fldoe.org/ClassSizeAppeal/. Supporting documentation should be sent to K12Verify@fldoe.org.

Based upon appeals, the commissioner may recommend alternative reduction amounts to the Legislative Budget Commission no later than February 15.

Yes. If a district is found to be out of compliance with class-size requirements, it must submit a class-size compliance plan pursuant to section 1003.03(4)(e), F.S.