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Class Sizes Reduced in Fourth, Fifth Grades

The Long Beach Unified School District this fall has reduced class sizes in fourth and fifth grades, supporting its efforts to boost student achievement. The smaller class sizes allow teachers to give more individualized assistance to students. "Reducing class size is a major accomplishment during lean times," said Karen DeVries, deputy superintendent, elementary schools. "It shows our commitment to programs that increase teacher efficacy, which ensures the steady achievement gains we’re seeing in the elementary schools." Almost all schools in the district are offering smaller classes in fourth and fifth grades. Most schools are reducing class size for the entire day, others during portions of the day. Individual site plans are based on available classroom space and input from the school’s teachers and principal. The maximum class size for these grades is 35. The reduction varies from school to school, with class sizes being reduced to anywhere between 25 and 30 students depending on enrollment and classroom space availability. The new class size reductions are made possible by this fall’s drop in elementary school enrollment. The school district is using $2.5 million in federal Title I funds under the No Child Left Behind Act to pay for the additional teacher salaries and benefits for fourth and fifth grade class size reduction. Some schools also are using the Title I funds to hire additional reading specialists and other personnel to lower class size in grades four and five.