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Smaller Haddonfield Class Sizes

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**Attention parents: Please attend the next Board of Education Meeting where this letter and petition will be presented:

Thursday, June 28, 7 pm, Central School Library


June 18, 2018

Dr. Larry Mussoline and the Haddonfield Board of Education

1 Lincoln Avenue

Haddonfield, NJ 08033

Dear Dr. Mussoline and Board Members,

We, the undersigned, are parents, teachers, community members, and taxpayers of Haddonfield. We are writing to express our deep concern about the large class sizes in Haddonfield’s elementary schools. Despite the wonderful teaching staff, we believe that the overcrowding in our classrooms is serving as an impediment to learning and is harmful to the students.

We respectfully request that the Board of Education review and revise the district policy on maximum class sizes in grades K-5. Specifically, we request that the policy be revised to reduce the maximum number of students in each class prior to the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

For reference, policy 2312 (approved in 2010) dictates that Haddonfield’s maximum class size in grades K-3 is 25 students and in grades 4-5 is 27 students.[1] Current class sizes in Haddonfield have been trending upward since this policy was put into effect, with class size approaching the maximum allotted.[2] This should not be the norm. We propose instituting a new policy with a maximum class size of 20 students in grades K-3 and 22 students in grades 4-5.

The primary goal of this Board must be to provide students with the necessary classroom environment and resources to succeed. We know that smaller class sizes combined with qualified teacher support leads to better developmental, behavioral, social, and academic outcomes.[3] Haddonfield’s commitment to ‘growing in excellence’ should afford every district elementary school teacher the ability to implement differentiated instruction[4] within his or her classroom. This requires teachers to get to know their students well allowing them to develop different lessons based on every students needs.[5] This can only be successfully achieved with small groups in manageable classes.

Extensive current and historic research clearly shows that class size affects performance results. For example:

  • The well regarded Tennessee Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio Study (STAR Project) and subsequent research found that students who were assigned to smaller K-3 classes:
    • Scored higher on achievement tests, received higher grades, and had better attendance
    • Continued to outperform their peers when returned to larger classes
    • Earned consistently higher grades in high school and scored better on English, math, and science standardized tests
    • Had higher earnings in adulthood and a greater likelihood of attending college.[6]
  • When class sizes are reduced, major changes occur in students’ engagement in the classroom. Engagement is composed of “learning behavior” and pro- and antisocial behavior. Both are highly related to academic performance.[7]

We realize this issue has been brought to the Board before but we feel strongly that reducing class size must be a priority when making budgetary decisions for the school district. We propose the Board create a community committee to solicit input on how to account for the increased cost of smaller classes. Working together toward our shared goal of excellence we can give Haddonfield children the best opportunity for educational success.


Concerned Haddonfield Community Members (via petition)


Asst. Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Mr. Michael Wilson (via email)

Elementary School Principals Mr. Gerry Bissinger, Mrs. Valerie Cline, Mrs. Shannon Simkus (via email)


[2] Haddonfield School District Enrollment 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, and 2017-18 attached hereto.

[3] Martel, Christopher. “The Research on Class Sizes.”

[4] Differentiated instruction is a way of teaching based on the premise that teachers should adapt instruction to student differences. It asks teachers to modify their instruction to meet students' varying readiness levels, learning preferences, and interests. Robb, Laura. “What is Differentiated Instruction?, Scholastic.

[5] Id.

[6] Martel, Christopher. “The Research on Class Sizes.”

[7] Finn, Jeremy D. Finn, Gina M. Pannozzo, and Charles M. Achilles. “The “Why’s” of Class Size: Student Behavior in Small Classes. Review of Educational Research. September 1, 2003. Vol 73, Issue 3, pp. 321 – 368.

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