Class-Size Tracker

Frequently Asked Questions


My Child's School

Why do some primary classes still have more than 20 students?

When Ontario set its goal for smaller classes, we allowed 10% of primary classes to have up to 23 students. We know that school boards can't control everything that affects class size. For example:

  • Students move and change schools. So individual class sizes can change from month to month.
  • Also, growing communities and new housing developments can affect class sizes. When new families move into an area, their children attend local schools. More families and more students mean class sizes may grow.

The government works with school boards to support them in meeting class size goals. Each board develops its own plan for class size organization and together we have reached our goals.

Across the Province

As of 2016-17:

  • 100% of primary classes* have 23 or fewer students this year compared to 64% in 2003-04.
  • 90% of primary classes* have 20 or fewer students this year compared to 31% in 2003-04.

*Notes:

  • Primary class size percentages have been rounded.
  • Totals may not add up due to rounding.
  • The government's full-day kindergarten (FDK) program is not included in primary class size calculations. Classes under the FDK program differ from other primary classes by having educator teams, comprised of a teacher and an early childhood educator, working together to support children’s learning throughout the two-year Kindergarten program.  In some cases where an FDK class has 15 students or fewer, only a teacher is required.

How will smaller classes help my child?

Smaller classes give teachers more time with each student. More time and attention helps students develop reading, writing and math skills. In fact, studies show1 that smaller classes have:

  • Higher performance
  • More effective teachers
  • Satisfied parents

One study found that primary school children in small classes did better in reading and math than kids in larger classes. The biggest difference was seen in disadvantaged students and students from different cultural backgrounds. They did much better in small classes.

Who is responsible for class size requirements and class size organization in Ontario?

The Ontario government sets the class size requirements and provides funding to each school board to help them meet the requirements across all grades. Your local school board decides how to spend those funds, and organizes classes and staffing based on each school's unique needs. Contact your board to learn more about their plans to reduce class sizes.

1. (Finn, J.D. and S.B. Gerber. (2005). Small classes in the early grades, academic achievement, and graduating from high school. Journal of Educational Psychology 97(2), 214-223. American Psychological Association.) (Glass, Gene V., Leonard S. Cahen, Mary L. Smith, and Nikola N. Filby. 1982. School class size: Research and policy. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.)