Of the 6.2 million staff members in public elementary and secondary schools in fall 2010, some 3.1 million, or half, were teachers.
Of the 6.2 million staff members in public elementary and secondary schools in fall 2010, some 3.1 million, or half, were teachers. In addition, there were 0.7 million instructional aides, who made up about 12 percent of the total staff. The 2010 percentage of teachers reflects a slight decrease from the fall 2000 ratio, when 52 percent of staff were teachers. The decrease in the ratio of teachers as a percentage of staff coincided with an increase, from 11 to 12 percent, in instructional aides as a percentage of staff. By comparison, in fall 1969 teachers represented 60 percent of public school staff, and instructional aides represented 2 percent of public school staff.
Figure 1. Teachers as a percentage of staff in public elementary and secondary school systems, by state or jurisdiction: fall 2010
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/Secondary Education," 2010-11. See Digest of Education Statistics 2012, table 95.
In most states, between 45 and 55 percent of public school staff were teachers in 2010. There are five states where teachers make up less than 45 percent of the staff (Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, Wyoming, and Oregon) and seven states where they make up more than 55 percent of the staff (Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Idaho, Rhode Island, Illinois, Nevada, and South Carolina).
Figure 2. Public and private elementary and secondary school pupil/teacher ratios: Selected years, fall 1955 through fall 2010
NOTE: Data for private schools include prekindergarten through grade 12 in schools offering kindergarten or higher grades. Data for public schools include prekindergarten through grade 12. The pupil/teacher ratio includes teachers for students with disabilities and other special teachers. Ratios for public schools reflect totals reported by states and differ from totals reported for schools or school districts. Some data have been revised from previously published figures.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Statistics of Public Elementary and Secondary Day Schools, 1955-56 through 1980-81; Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/Secondary Education," 1981-82 through 2010-11; Private School Universe Survey (PSS), 1989-90 through 2009-10. See Digest of Education Statistics 2012, table 76.
The number of students per teacher, or the pupil/teacher ratio, has been decreasing for more than 50 years. In fall 1955, there were 1.1 million public and 145,000 private elementary and secondary school teachers in the United States. By fall 2010, these numbers had nearly tripled for public school teachers (to 3.1 million) and more than tripled for private school teachers (to 443,000). However, proportional increases in school enrollment were smaller over this time period: from 31 million public school students to 49 million (a 61 percent increase) and from 4.6 million private school students to 5.4 million (a 17 percent increase). The resulting decline in pupil/ teacher ratios was concentrated in the period between 1955 and 1985 for public schools. During this period, public school pupil/teacher ratios fell from 26.9 to 17.9, or approximately 33 percent. Over the next 23 years, the public school pupil/teacher ratio declined by two additional students per teacher to 15.3 in 2008. There were slight increases in 2009 (15.4) and in 2010 (16.0). Private school pupil/teacher ratios decreased more steeply over this period, from 31.7 in 1955 to 12.2 in 2010. As a result, pupil/teacher ratios have been lower in private schools than in public schools since 1972.
Glossary terms: none
Data Sources: Common Core of Data (CCD) and Private School Universe Survey (PSS)