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The Student-Teacher Ratio and Your Child

How do you measure a successful school?

There are many factors that contribute to the achievements a child makes during his educational career. These factors range from the quality of the school’s technology to the involvement and interest he receives from his parents and teachers. Of course, teaching formats and styles the school adopts, the child’s learning environment as well as the accreditation of the school itself, all play a significant role in his overall success. One very often overlooked component in the measure of a school’s success is the student-to-teacher ratio.

Exactly what is the student-to-teacher ratio?

The student-to-teacher ratio is a very basic mathematical calculation. It’s the total student enrollment divided by the total number of instructors at the school. The result may be expressed as a ratio and will tell you the average number of students each teacher will have per classroom.

How does this ratio affect my child?

A lower student-to-teacher ratio is extremely beneficial for your child. Here are a few ways:

With a lower student-to-teacher ratio, each student will have more opportunity to work side-by-side with his teacher. Some students thrive in a large student population, most however, learn more effectively when they have measurable individual attention from their instructor. This arrangement is advantageous for students of all ages but even more beneficial for students in the lower elementary grades. The basic concepts in mathematics and reading must be mastered completely by a student in order that future concepts may be understood by the early learner. Not all children learn at the same pace. Some students grasp reading and phonics quickly and yet struggle with mathematics and vice versa. Other students pick up most concepts quickly and easily. For this reason, it is very important that the teacher is accessible to assist those struggling students before they move ahead. In a classroom with a low student-to teacher ratio, this is possible. One-on-one coaching or focused learning methods help all students feel confident that they have mastered a concept completely.

Teachers are able to set aside more time for your child. In addition to working in small groups or one-on-one, teachers also must have time to evaluate the progress of each student and adjust class lesson plans accordingly. With a lower student-to teacher ratio, the teacher is able to identify struggling students and give needed assistance before a student falls behind. This is only possible when there are fewer students for the teacher to evaluate. Sometimes, the group as a whole learns a new concept quickly and with the added available time, the teacher is able to make adjustments to the daily plan in order maintain student enthusiasm and avoid redundancy and boredom.

Not all children learn the same way. Studies show that some children are able to grasp a concept visually, some by way of touch and others verbally or through writing. In a smaller classroom setting, the teacher is able to address each student’s learning needs. Centers with manipulatives as well as computers and worksheets are all used to attain the same objective in learning. This is not an option in a larger classroom setting! Teachers of smaller student groups are able to accommodate many methods of learning while still keeping order within the classroom.

It’s all about numbers. Within a classroom dynamic, there are introverts and extroverts and the unfortunate truth is that the introverts may sometimes get lost in the crowd. In a smaller classroom, the teacher has greater “visibility” and is able to help the more introverted students blossom. There is simply more time for the teacher to interact and build individual relationships, thus creating a more personal and nurturing learning environment.