Recent Data Underlines New Jersey’s Status as Best in US for Student-to-Teacher Ratio

Colleen O'Dea | March 13, 2020 | Education
Data from new School Performance Reports also shows widely varying results in English Language Arts tests and math tests

NJ K-8 Schools Performance Data
NJ K-8 Schools Performance Data

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Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of NJ Spotlight updates highlighting data from the state’s latest School Performance Reports for every public school in New Jersey.

The latest New Jersey School Performance Reports give one possible reason for the state’s schools best-in-the-nation rating: low student-to-teacher ratio.

An analysis of data from the 2018-2019 School Performance Reports — a kind of report card for schools released by the state Department of Education earlier this week — shows the average school in the state had one teacher for every 11.6 students. The website Public School Review put the national average at about 16-to-1.

Research has shown that students tend to fare better in smaller classes. New Jersey’s reports do not include class size but do show student-to-teacher, student-to-administrator and teacher-to-administrator ratios for schools and districts across the state. Last year, Education Week’s Quality Counts 2019 report card of state education systems named New Jersey best in the nation.

The reports also show wide variations in schoolwide performance on the state’s English Language Arts (ELA) and math tests of students in grades 3-8. The state averages for those considered at least proficient on those tests last year were 57.9% for the ELA and 44.5% for math. But at least 90% of students were proficient in ELA in 29 schools and in math in eight schools in New Jersey last year. Conversely, fewer than a quarter of students were proficient in ELA in 115 schools and in math in 217 schools.

To help parents and the public put the testing data in perspective, the reports include the proficiency rates set for federal accountability purposes for each school and annual targets, and how well they fared in meeting those. Under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, states and districts have to create plans to help struggling schools improve.

In ELA, some 57% of schools met either their target rate  or the state goal of 80% proficient. Another 20% came close enough to count. More than 22% of schools did not meet their target. In math, a plurality of schools, or four in 10, did not meet their targets. About a third did meet their targets, another 21% came close enough and 6% met their goals.

NJ Spotlight’s searchable database includes ELA and math testing data — including the percent of students tested, proficiency rates and targets — for the last three years for all schools that tested students. It also features student-to-staff ratios for all K-8 schools for which data was reported.