Class sizes at BHS

Three Berkeley High science teachers have done an analysis of class sizes at the school. It’s an attempt to inject facts into the debate around struggling students at BHS, and whether cutting science lab time is an effective way to close the achievement gap at the school.

Part of the undercurrent in the debate is the tussle between the two largest programs at BHS — Academic Choice and Berkeley International High School — and the “small schools” — CAS, AHA, SSJE and CPA. The School Governance Council, which originally considered the proposal to eliminate 0 and 7th hour science, has a high representation of small school faculty.

The first table shows how the student body is distributed across the two programs and the four small schools:

Academic Choice clearly has the largest number of students, with nearly half of BHS’s total. BIHS and Academic Choice together are three-quarters of the school.


The second table shows how Academic Choice and BIHS have generally larger class sizes:

Finally, the third table shows the release time for staff development and student support in the two programs and four small schools. Academic Choice and BIHS — with 75 per cent of students — have 50 per cent of the time.

Here’s what the three science teachers, Evy Kavaler, Matt McHugh, Amy Hansen, wrote:

Please read the attached “fact sheet” and distribute it as you feel comfortable.  The three of us have spent hours looking at class sizes and resource distribution and find that the claim that small schools are not being given a fair share of the school’s resources is just not true.

In addition,  AC and BIHS have made decisions to support struggling students with smaller class sizes.


The position taken by the Administration is that our students performing at grade level or above deserve little or no support is unconscionable.   Parcel Tax money is supposed to support all of our students.  Please make your voices heard.

They go on to note:

Approximately $90,000 in resources has already been spent for the development of an advisory curriculum that has yet to see the light of day.

The claim that at- risk students are not receiving adequate resources is just not supported by the facts.  Small schools already receive a disproportionate allocation of resources.