As education in Michigan falls under ever greater scrutiny, one glaring issue seems to stand out: the state’s lopsided student-teacher ratio. One of the highest ratios in the nation, Ford School professor Brian Jacob believes the issue is even worse than advertised, telling the Detroit News that “the student-teacher ratio systematically understates class size.”
In her September 26th article "Class size causes concerns for Mich. parents, districts, teachers", Jennifer Chambers reports that continuously increasing class sizes impose an increasingly heavy burden on both students and teachers. While fewer teachers educate more and more students, both individual attention and academic performance appear to drop. Moreover, Jacob states, the reported ratio is over-inclusive as the calculation “includes specialized teachers who do not preside over a traditional classroom.” Citing Jacob’s contributions to an Education Policy Initiative policy brief, the gap grows even wider when analyzed in relation to race and class-based distinctions.
With no legal cap for class-sizes, nagging budgetary restrictions, and a shortage of teachers, the disproportionate student-teacher ratio presents a problem in desperate need of a solution. Without a clear and concise student-teacher ratio, the state faces an uphill battle in limiting the over-saturation of students in Michigan’s classrooms.
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A Walter H. Anneberg Professor of Education Policy, Brian Jacob is also the co-director of the Youth Policy Lab. Jacob also received the David N. Kershaw Prize for his contributions to the public policy field.