High School Classrooms Are Fuller for Los Altans

The state average for a high school class size is 23.6 students, and Los Altans generally attend classes that have more students. But is that a bad thing?

Class sizes at most public high schools serving Los Altos students exceed the California average, but all but one boast student-to-teacher ratios lower than the state norm, according to data from the 2011-12 school year released earlier this month.

Los Altos High School had an average class size of 24.2 students. That's not too far above the state average of 23.6 students in each class, according to the statistics published on the Ed-Data website.

Henry M. Gunn High School in Palo Alto reported an average class size of 24.4 students.

Mountain View High School had an average class size of 25.1 students.

Homestead High School has an average class size of a full five students higher than the national average, and Palo Alto High School had class sizes four students higher than the state average.

Studies of small class sizes aren't definitive—small size doesn't necessarily trump all. The most consensus is that there's benefit in the K-3 grades. Given the regularity that Gunn and Paly land on the National Merit Scholarship finalists list and other national honors competition, larger class sizes doesn't seem to have affected those schools adversely. 

Alta Vista High, a continuation school in Mountain View a student population of 143, touts the lowest average class size in the area at 14.5 students.

All area high schools except Homestead bested the state pupil-to-student ratio average of 22.7.

Compare Silicon Valley high schools here here or pick other schools for comparisons on the Ed-Data website:

School Class Size Comparisons, 2011-12 School Enrollment Average Class Size Pupils per Teacher Number of Teachers

Alta Vista High

143 14.5 18.8 9 Gunn High
1854 24.4 17.8 116 Homestead High 2312 29.8 24.8 109 Los Altos High 1648 24.2 20.1 96 Mountain View High 1847 25.1 20.8 99 Palo Alto High 1887 27.6 18.1 114
Statewide Average n/a 23.6 22.7 n/a

Private schools and not included in this data. The statistics are published by the the Ed-Data website, a partnership between the California Department of Education (CDE), EdSource, and the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team to provide data about K-12 education.

There's a longstanding debate surrounding the importance of class size. A report issued two years ago by the Brookings Institute indicated significant class size reduction—along the lines of seven to 10 students—had the biggest impact on student achievement, but this was much more pronounced in younger students than at the high school level.

Do you think average class sizes at high schools in Palo Alto are too high? How does this impact students' learning? Tell us in the comment section below.


Also on Los Altos Patch:

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  • Los Altos Police Warn Scammers Are Impersonating Them


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