Skip Navigation
small NCES header image
EDUCATION INDICATORS: An International Perspective


Indicator 39: Student/Teacher Ratio

The student/teacher ratio measures the number of students per teacher. It reflects teacher workload and the availability of teachers' services to their students. The lower the student/teacher ratio, the higher the availability of teacher services to students. The student/teacher ratio has implications not only for the cost of education, but also for the quality. The student/teacher ratio is not the same as class size, however. (See Indicator 21 for a discussion of class size.) The relationship between these two measures of teacher workload is affected by a variety of factors, including the number of classes for which a teacher is responsible and the number of classes taken by students.

Although Indicator 39 provides student/teacher ratios both for public education and for public and private education combined, the general pattern of cross-country variation and cross-education-level variation in student/teacher ratios for these two sectors is similar. Discussions, therefore, focus on public education.

  • Of the G-7 countries for which 1992 data were available, Italy had the lowest student/teacher ratio at all levels of education while the United States had among the highest in all but primary education.*

  • Except in Hungary, Sweden, and the United States, student/teacher ratios for public secondary education (lower and upper combined) were lower (at least slightly) than the ratios for public primary education.

  • Student/teacher ratios varied greatly among the countries reported. For public schools at the primary level, they ranged from 10.5 in Italy to 29.4 in Turkey (in 1991, the ratio for the United States was 15.5); and at the upper secondary level, they varied from 8.2 in Norway to 19.8 in the former West Germany (the ratio for the United States was 15.6).

  • Including the data for public and private sectors of education in the same indicator had no appreciable effect on student/teacher ratios in most countries, including the United States. However, in some countries student/teacher ratios increased, while in other countries they decreased, when public and private education were combined. For example, at the primary level in Spain, the student/teacher ratio increased from 18.8 for public education to 21.2 for public and private education combined.

*For further information on the levels of education, see the sidebar entitled ISCED levels of education.


Table 39: Ratio of students to teaching staff,1 by level of education and country: 1992


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
				Public education	        Public and private education	
			------------------------------------	-------------------------------------------
					Lower	Upper	All			Lower	Upper	All
			Pre- 	 	secon-	secon-	secon-	Pre-		secon-	secon-	secon-
Country			primary	Primary	dary	dary	dary	primary	Primary	dary	dary	dary
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
G-72
France			25.8	20.2	-	-	14.0	26.0	20.4	-	-	14.3
West Germany (former)	24.4	19.6	14.6	19.8	16.4	23.9	19.6	14.6	19.0	16.2
Japan			14.5	19.8	17.0	15.5	16.3	18.5	19.8	16.8	16.4	16.6
Italy                   11.8    10.5     8.9     9.1     9.0    13.3    10.9     9.0     8.8     8.9
United Kingdom		38.1	21.2	16.5	14.9	15.5	38.1	20.8	15.9	14.8	15.2
United States		-	15.53	17.7	15.6	16.7	-	15.23	16.8	15.0	15.9
Other
Australia		-	18.0	-	-	12.8	-	18.4	-	-	12.9
Austria                 17.3    12.2     7.9    11.4     9.4    18.3    12.2     7.7    11.6     9.4
Belgium                 17.5    13.0    -       -        6.7    18.4    13.7    -       -        7.8
Czech Republic		10.9	22.9	17.0	10.6	13.3	10.9	22.9	17.0	10.5	13.2
Denmark                 10.8    11.1     9.0    10.4     9.6    10.7    10.9     9.1    10.4     9.7
Finland			-	-	-	-	-	12.5	19.0	-	-	-
Hungary			11.3	12.6	11.5	14.1	12.7	11.5	12.7	11.6	14.1	12.7
Ireland			27.5	25.8	-	-	17.1	27.2	25.6	-	-	17.1
Netherlands		-	-	-	-	-	25.9	23.6	-	-	18.8
New Zealand             17.0    18.5    -       -       18.0     8.8    18.5    -       -       17.7
Norway                  -       10.6     8.5     8.2     8.3     -       -       -       -       -
Spain21.5		18.8	16.6	14.5	15.3	23.4	21.2	17.6	15.9	16.6
Sweden			-	11.9	10.4	16.0	12.8	-	11.9	10.6	16.0	13.0
Turkey			16.7	29.4	46.3	13.6	23.7	16.6	29.3	47.5	13.2	23.4
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

-Not available.
1/ Students and teaching staff are full-time equivalents.
2/ No data available for Canada.
3/ 1991 data.

NOTE: See supplemental note to Indicator 39 for an explanation of the calculation of full-time equivalents.

SOURCE: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Center for Educational Research and Innovation, International Indicators Project, 1995.


Figure 39: Ratio of students to teaching staff, by level of education and G-7 country:1,2,3 1992

Figure 39


1/ No data available for Canada.
2/ Public and private education combined.
3/ Countries are sorted in descending order by the ratio of students to teaching staff in primary education.
4/ Primary level, 1991 data.

SOURCE: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Center for Educational Research and Innovation, International Indicators Project, 1995.

Notes on Figures and Tables

Australia, Denmark, Finland, West Germany (former), and the United States

See supplemental notes to Indicator 38.

Technical Notes

Calculation of full-time equivalents

See supplemental note for Indicator 1 for an explanation of the calculation of full-time equivalents.


[Indicator 38] Previous Table of Contents Next[Indicator 40]
Would you like to help us improve our products and website by taking a short survey?

YES, I would like to take the survey

or

No Thanks

The survey consists of a few short questions and takes less than one minute to complete.