Student-teacher ratios over the last three years have been caught in the churn of seesawing enrollment and staff shortages of varying severity.
Early in the pandemic, student-teacher ratios began dropping as public schools lost more pupils than educators. Between fall 2019 and fall 2020, enrollment fell by 2.7% while the number of teachers declined by just 0.2%, That means the student-teacher ratio decreased from 15.9 in 2019-20 to 15.4 in 2020-21, according to an analysis by Scholaroo, a scholarship search firm.
The student-teacher ratio has fallen further this school year and now stands at 15-to-1, according to data from Public School Review, which is geared toward families moving to new communities. California’s ratio is the highest at 22-to-1 while Maine boasts the lowest, 11-to-1.
Student-teacher ratio rollercoaster
In that first year of the pandemic, only three states—Nevada (0.8), Ohio (0.3), and Florida (0.2)—saw student-teacher ratios rise. The biggest decreases occurred in Indiana (-1.3 pupils per teacher), Arizona (-1.1), Kansas (-0.9), and Kentucky (-0.9), according to Scholaroo, which lists the change in each state.
Fast-forward back to 2022-23, and Florida is at the top of another list—it has the fewest teachers compared to the overall population. The state has just 6.5 teachers per 1,000 residents. Oregon, California, Nevada and Hawaii are right behind Florida, each with fewer than eight teachers per 1,000 people.
North Dakota, Nebraska, Vermont, New Jersey and Wyoming have the most teachers per 1,000 residents.
Here is where student teacher-ratios stand in each state (according to Public School Review):
- South Carolina—15:1
- New Mexico—15:1
- North Carolina—15:1
- West Virginia—14:1
- South Dakota—14:1
- Rhode Island—13:1
- New York—12:1
- New Jersey—12:1
- North Dakota—12:1
- Washington, D.C.—12:1
- New Hampshire—11:1
*Data was not available for Indiana.