Report: Calif. has nation’s highest student-to-teacher ratio
California leads the nation when it comes to the number of students per public school teacher. At 24 students per teacher, the state is 8 students higher than the national average, according to the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics.
The state with the lowest student-to-teacher ratio in public school is Vermont. Other states that fall below the national average of 16 are Wyoming, North Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York.
It seems that the high student-to-teacher ratios are especially concentrated to Western states, like California and its neighbors Oregon, Nevada, Utah and Arizona (with the exception of Michigan, the one Midwestern state above 20 kids per teacher).
So what does it all mean? The assumption of course is that students who are in smaller classes get more attention and therefore fare better in school. A Huffington Post report, however, shows little correlation between states with higher student-to-teacher ratios and National Assessment of Educational Progress scores for eighth graders. California and Nevada did fall on the lower end of the NAEP scores, with less than 30% of students performing at or above proficient levels. Utah and Oregon were closer to 40% though, outpacing lower student-to-teacher states like New York and Connecticut.
Smaller classes sizes DO make a difference but as all educators know, some teachers are able to work miracles despite the amount of kids in their classrooms. Outside factors like home life, poverty and access to early childhood education also impact the performance of students, and in states like California, the language barrier can also be an issue.
Regardless, more teachers in the classroom is a policy that all states should undertake to be sure the needs of students are being met.