Lawmakers passed a dramatically watered-down version of a bill that initially mandated schools meet reduced student-teacher ratios by the 2028-29 school year or else pay their teachers more.
The Assembly Education Committee amended AB304, sponsored by classroom teacher and Democratic Assemblywoman Brittney Miller, in a meeting on Thursday before passing it. The bill now calls for non-binding recommendations on counselor and social worker to student ratios and calls for more detailed reporting on the size of Nevada’s classrooms.
“I am committed, and I will stay committed, to fighting the fight of class sizes in Nevada,” Miller said, adding that she wanted to assure teachers and students that “we hear them and this conversation will continue.”
The National Education Association recently ranked the state the worst in the country for class sizes, with an average of 26 students per teacher. The bill initially called on the state education board to set binding student-teacher ratios and then start taking steps toward achieving that by the 2022-23 school year.
Teachers with larger-than-recommended class sizes would have been paid additional money and would not be held accountable to reaching “student learning goals” they set for their annual evaluations. The bill also would have given unions a role in setting student-teacher ratios.
Smaller class sizes have been both a campaign promise from Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak and a perennial rallying cry among education groups. It’s also been a personal crusade for Miller, who last session sponsored a bill that initially proposed automatically giving teachers with larger-than-recommended classes the highest possible rating on their evaluation.
But critics raised questions about how the state would pay for the additional teachers and buildings needed to meet the bill’s goals.
The amended version of the bill does require school districts to post online the exact number of students per teacher in each class in the district.