From the first federal achievement tests in 1970 to the present, student achievement charts have shown as level lines, with scores consistently in the low 200s out of a possible 500, against upward spending lines and downward class size lines. But now, as proof of the (simplistic) survivalist-politician-fear-of-voter-displeasure theory, a few states have begun sneaking minimum-class-size policies into their rule-books. So far, my amateurish research has found three: Tennessee, Missouri, and-surprise!-Vermont.
In earlier columns, I've reported on the Tennessee minimum class size policy-K-3, 20; 4-6, 25; 7-12, 30. You can judge its seriousness from the actual class size (shown as p/t ratio, which is close) in Tennessee: 14.3-to-1 in 2008.
In Missouri, the "guideline" calls for K-2, 25; 3-4, 27; 5-6, 30, and 7-12, 33. You can judge its seriousness from the actual class size (shown as p/t ratio, which is close) in Missouri: 13-to-1 in 2008.
Now, it turns out, Vermont's own state department of education actually adopted-on Sept. 8, 2010-a minimum class-size policy guideline.
It calls for no fewer than 15 students in all grades and grade-clusters from K to 8, and numbers ranging from 15 to 20 in various 9-12 curriculum areas. Were it (subjunctive contrary to fact) serious, it would cause a near 1/3 decrease in the direct-instruction component (60 percent) of the total school budget. Gloriosky, Zero; Who nnew? Maybe I missed the SED precedent-shattering policy-changing press release, or the subsequent breathless in-depth, deeply-analytical reportage-with-enlightened-commentary in the several VT papers I read.
As an amateur and not a full-time, highly skilled-professional Fourth Estater (and fearful of peer disapproval), I choose not to opinionate on the decisions of various Vermont media managers and editors not to report on that rare-and-unexpected statistically improbable "black swan" event in Vermont education: the official adoption of a state department of education minimum-class-size policy-guideline.