Student-Teacher Ratios

Everything You Need to Know About Student-Teacher Ratios


Imagine teaching in front of a sea of children, desks stacked so closely together you have to creatively maneuver yourself to move about the classroom. With an abundance of students, it's difficult to find the capacity or time to truly focus on each individual's strengths and weaknesses, tailor teaching according to their needs, or know how to push each one uniquely toward success.

On the other side of the coin, picture a smaller sized classroom. Instead of a large group of students, you teach just a handful in one topic. You know not just their names and faces, but their goals, strengths, and academic challenges. You can encourage their unique voices and meet their needs. This dichotomy is often the difference between a high and a low student-teacher ratio — and for many students, the right ratio can be a significant contribution to their success.

What Is a Student-Teacher Ratio?

The student-teacher ratio refers to the number of students for every teacher in a school. This number is about more than just class size — although the two statistics are often tied. The student-teacher ratio reflects the teacher's workload and how available they are to offer services and care to their students. Many students and teachers find that the lower the number, the better the educational process and learning will be.

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Why Do Student-Teacher Ratios Matter?

The student-teacher ratio has been found to be one of the strongest indicators of student success and engagement. Logically, it's little wonder why. The fewer students each teacher works with, the more closely they're able to adapt their teaching to the specific learning styles. They're also able to develop healthy one-on-one mentoring relationships and offer insight and help in ways that would be impossible in a larger classroom. Additionally, a lower ratio will lighten the workload for teachers, enabling them to focus on the quality rather than the quantity of their teaching and grading.

In a smaller group, students are more likely to feel comfortable voicing their opinions, asking questions, and making their needs known. This setup also provides added care for students who may be struggling with learning obstacles in any given subject. Rather than falling through the cracks in a larger classroom or one with a higher student-teacher ratio, students benefit from the fact that teachers are able to notice and offer tailored assistance more effectively.

This benefit may also be true of students who excel and need an added challenge to harness their full potential. With a lower student-teacher ratio, teachers have the capacity to address this situation, offering the student extra materials and helping them succeed to the best of their abilities. The teacher will also have a higher bandwidth to go above and beyond in communicating this area of strength with the student's parents and considering the next best steps.

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Lower student-teacher ratios have been found to leave their mark, creating a ripple effect that includes:

  • Better test scores
  • Fewer dropout students
  • Higher graduation rates


What Is a Good Student-Teacher Ratio?

There is no standard perfect number for what constitutes a good student-teacher ratio. The number will vary according to budgeting, as smaller class sizes and more teachers cost the school more to staff and train. You'll also often find differences in the student-teacher ratio according to the type of school. Public schools, for example, tend to have a higher student-teacher ratio than private day schools or boarding schools, which typically offer smaller class sizes.

A good rule of thumb to follow: The smaller the student-teacher ratio, the better!

Classroom sizes across the U.S. have generally been on a declining trajectory, from an average student-teacher ratio of 22:1 in 1970 to 15:1 in 2008. This trend is a positive one indicating that educational systems recognize the importance of reducing the ratio as much as possible.

The more one-on-one attention and individualized teaching students can glean, the higher the quality and personalization of their learning. While there's no magic number for this ratio, you'll find that a lower ratio tends to indicate a more positive and tailored teaching approach.

The Average Student-Teacher Ratio in New Jersey

New Jersey's average student-teacher ratio varies depending on type of school. Nationwide, public schools typically have larger classroom sizes and higher ratios compared to private day schools and boarding schools. Boarding schools in particular are found to have the lowest ratios of all due to their specialized emphasis on quality education and vigorous academics. Here are some differences:

  • Public schools: With an average student-teacher ratio of 12:1, NJ public schools often find themselves limited by budgeting constraints. Decreasing class sizes or hiring more teachers can be a challenge in a state-funded public school setting, creating a system whereby students who struggle with learning difficulties or are particularly gifted may not be able to access the one-on-one tailored attention they need.
  • Private day schools: While plenty of private day schools do offer lower ratios, the average private day school student-teacher ratio in New Jersey is 11:1.
  • Boarding schools: According to data compiled from the top boarding schools in the state, New Jersey's average boarding student-teacher ratio is 7:1. This number reflects a concerted effort to provide students with the best education possible. An important part of this vision is allowing for one-on-one teaching opportunities, smaller class sizes and tailored learning programs that meet students' specific needs.

NJ Student Teacher Ratios

Inquire About The Hun School of Princeton to Learn More

The Hun School of Princeton has been a leading New Jersey private boarding school since 1963. Our emphasis on an innovative, hands-on learning environment is brought to life by our expert teachers and faculty. With a student-teacher ratio of 5:1, we go above and beyond the New Jersey average to offer the ultimate engagement and active learning experience for our students. The Hun School also offers a low student-counselor ratio of 48:1, helping us to care for our students' needs on every level.

Interested in learning more about our programs and unique culture? Feel free to submit an inquiry today!

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