Delving Deeper into Private School Ratios

by NYC Firm Schools on April 2, 2009

teaching with emotion: a halloween story
Creative Commons License photo credit: woodleywonderworks

Firm Schools and Public Schools alike usually have their student-teacher ratio numbers readily available through a number of sources. These sources can include school websites, brochures, applications and informational packets. Many schools also have a student-teacher ratio published on school review websites. The student-teacher ratio is a simple little item, just two numbers separated by a colon. It seems impossible to misinterpret such a small thing, but indeed it is a statistic that can be skewed in many ways.

Student Teacher Ratio and Full Time vs. Part Time

Most schools will only publish the ratio as it relates to the number of students per full-time equivalent (FTE) teacher. That is to say that if a school as 4 part time teachers, they would report that as the number of students to “1” teacher. The student-teacher ratio at this school would be calculated based upon one teacher instead of four because four teachers at 25% is equal to one full-time teacher. This kind of reporting can make the student-teacher ratio appear higher than it really is at that small school.

Student-Teacher Ratio and Class Size

When discussing student-teacher ratios, it is also wise to keep in mind that a low student-teacher ratio is not the same as a small class size. At schools which have many additional specialized, smaller classes taught by experts in that particular field, this can lower the overall student-teacher ratio even though the general class size is much larger.

If you find that your child’s school, or a school that your child is interested in, has an unusually large or small student-teacher ratio, take a moment to ask how that ratio was determined. And don’t forget to ask about regular class size, as this is not the same thing as a student-teacher ratio and may give you a better idea of what classes are like.

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