Student to teacher ratio is a metric you can use to optimize teacher scheduling without compromising educational outcomes. There have been several studies attempting to ascertain the best ratio of students to teachers for maximum achievement, but when you deal with class sizes that grow and shrink within your operating hours, you have the potential to have more teachers than you need.
In addition, if you see that the number of students attending your aftercare program is increasing, you can use student-teacher ratios to determine how many additional teachers you may need to hire and the best schedule for both your students and your budget.
What Is the Student-Teacher Ratio?
The student-teacher ratio is defined by the number of students attending the program divided by the number of teachers. The average ratio should not be used as a replacement metric for average class size, and using an average may skew the results, and the benefits of optimal scheduling will fade.
For daycares, the state often regulates the ratio according to the age of the child. Group sizes can be larger per teacher as the child's age increases. However, aftercare typically begins for children of kindergarten age and older, and the requirements may be laxer for this age group.
The average student to teacher ratio in developed countries is nearly 16 (1 teacher for 16 pupils). However, individual countries ranged from 40 in Brazil to 11 in Hungary.
Educators are interested in whether smaller class sizes result in higher achievement. In general, it seems so as long as the class size reduction is implemented properly. The biggest gains in achievement with smaller class sizes and highly qualified teachers occur in the K-3 cohort. The greatest benefits were seen in class sizes of 18 or fewer students per teacher.
Minority and low-income students show the highest gains when placed in smaller classes early in elementary school. Teacher experience and preparation is also a critical factor in achievement gains in the lower grades. With the addition of professional development and a rigorous curriculum, small class size advantages are also enhanced.
Factors Impacting the Relationship of the Ratio to Class Size
When you are determining your student to teacher ratio and completing your scheduling, you have to take into consideration the number of teachers who will also have non-teaching duties during the hours of operation, the number of classes each teacher handles in a given day, and the number of teachers you will need per class if your program pursues team-teaching or provides an assistant to the teacher in certain classrooms.
In the US, the average student to teacher ratio is 15, but the average class size is 21, showing you the reason why the two numbers cannot be used interchangeably.
Reasons for Managing Your Student to Teacher Ratio
Ratio management for aftercare programs is primarily a tool for reducing costs without impacting the quality of the program. Knowing your ideal ratio also helps you determine the appropriate pay for teachers as well as track and manage the salary expenses for your program.
Monitoring and understanding the ebb and flow of the number of students will aid you with accurately budgeting for the future, particularly if you expect your program to grow.
Using Childcare Software to Track and Manage Student to Teacher Ratio
Childcare management software lets you track the amount of time each student spends in the program each day, what hours of the day they spend there, and an aggregate of total numbers of students graphed as a function of time. When times are kept manually on time sheets, too often a teacher will neglect to fill out the time sheet until days later, resulting in an inaccurate time sheet.
Childcare solutions often provide time clock and time and attendance functions so you can closely record and monitor the times a teacher or student signs in and out of your program on a daily basis and the total number of students and teachers present in each segment of time.
By checking these types of reports, you may notice that you have fewer children at the beginning and end of your hours of operation than you do during the middle hours. If you see that a particular class shrinks below a minimum number of students, increasing the ratio dramatically for the final hour of class, you can consider sending a teacher home early and adjust future schedules to allow for fewer teachers at the beginning and end of operations.
Tracking the number of teachers you need and the number of hours they are required can also help you maximize teacher salaries. Your budget can stretch farther for higher salaries if you can limit the number of hours worked.
An interesting benefit of using technology to track teacher and student time is that you can see the numbers in real time with the right software. There is no need to wait until the end of the day or week to see whether you need to adjust the schedule. You can see the ratios on your computer screen or smartphone as teachers and students sign in and out each day.
Smaller class sizes have been shown to increase test scores and student achievement up to a point. The benefits are seen when class sizes are no larger than 18 students and even smaller ratios may be desirable depending on the subject being taught.
Knowing that the optimal ratio for student success is no more than 18, you can use the data from your childcare management solution to schedule the correct number of teachers according to the numbers of students you expect in class each hour. You may also spot patterns that allow you to combine groups or, if needed, split a group and add another teacher to the roster for that particular part of the day.
With the twin goals of optimizing teacher salaries and student achievement while simultaneously reducing expenses for your aftercare program, it is difficult, if not impossible to do so without a method of accurately tracking student and teacher time and attendance. Today's software provides the advantage of accuracy along with visibility of real-time monitoring.
The result is a reduction in salary expense for each day the ratio is optimized.