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Optimal student teacher ratio - What do schools hide behind the number

In our previous post on this topic of finding the optimal student teacher ratio, we discussed what is does student teacher ratio really mean and what is an optimal student teacher ratio. In this post, we will discuss ways in which schools can hide real information behind a simple number and how you can uncover the truth. 

There are 3 main things you should be aware of when looking at Student teacher ratio quoted by a school.

Student teacher ratio is NOT equal to number of students in a given class

Student teacher ratio is simply the ratio of total number of students in a school with the total number of teachers in a school. Just for our understanding, consider a school with just one class and one section. This school has 60 students in that one class. Also, this school has 5 teachers, one for each subject of English, Maths, Science, Social Science and Hindi. The teacher student ratio of this school is 12 (60 students and 5 teachers). However, the number of students that will be taught by one teacher is still 60! 


Student teacher ratio is NOT equal across classes in a given school

Typically senior classes will have a smaller student teacher ratio than a junior class. There are several reasons why student teacher ratio is different across classes. 

  • Senior classes have more subjects than junior classes. Typically there are 7-10 subjects for senior class vs 4-6 for junior class. Thus they need more teachers
  • Schools have specialized teachers for senior classes, e.g. separate teachers of Biology, Physics and Chemistry instead of one single teacher for Science. Also, often same teacher will be teaching Science and Maths in junior classes but this is often not possible for senior classes where level of specialization required is much more
  • Senior classes in a school will have lesser class strength (number of students for each section) than junior classes. 

All these factors combined would mean that real student teacher ratio in senior classes will often be half of what it is for junior classes. So if you are looking for admission of your child in junior classes then you must ask for appropriate student teacher ratio. 

Student teacher ratio can be fudged

It is possible to fudge this number in multiple ways and you need to be careful about the same

  • Schools can incorrectly increase the number of teachers e.g. they may include temporary teachers or even office staff in the teacher numbers
  • Schools can artificially decrease the number of students e.g. some schools have 2 sessions (morning and afternoon). They may count the teachers of both sessions but fail to count students of that session. They may choose not to count some particular sections, say commerce sections not counted)
  • This ratio varies across states and cities. Schools may choose to hide behind averages while the individual numbers tell a different story

Hope these tips help you uncover the truth and find the optimal student teacher ratio for your child's school. Do let us know your thoughts on this. If you found this post useful, you can share with your friends on facebook, twitter or stumbleupon. 


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