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A hidden consequence of Utah’s crowded classrooms?

Eli Carter-Smith and his first grade class at Dilworth Elementary are glad to be back in the classroom after nearly a year of online school. Photo: Heather Simonsen/KSL-TV

SALT LAKE CITY — Crowded classrooms in Utah schools are nothing new. And they will probably get even larger as Utah is the fourth-fastest growing state in the US in 2021.

  1. Idaho (6.26%)
  2. Nevada (5.23%)
  3. Arizona (5.06%)
  4. Utah (4.99%)

Teachers also seem to be harder to find:

  • In Utah, 42 percent of new teachers quit within five years of starting, and more than one-third of those who leave the profession do so at the end of their first year, according to the Utah State Office of Education.
  • In 2017, only 34% of our new teachers came from Utah’s academic teacher-prep programs, compared to 58% in 2007, according to Envision Utah.

Crowded classrooms get worse as children age

Jennifer Boehme, executive director of UEA, joined Dave & Dujanovic on KSL NewsRadio to discuss attracting and retaining teachers and dealing with crowded classrooms.

Boehme cited average teacher/student ratios for Utah public school classrooms:

  • Kindergarten through third grade: 20 to 23 students.
  • Upper elementary school grades: 24 to 27.
  • Middle school and high school: 27 to 30.

“The more students that are there [in class], the more needs there are and the more thin the teacher is spread in trying to meet those needs,” she said.

Top 5 states with the Most Crowded Classrooms*

1. Arizona – Pupil/Teacher Ratio: 23.53

2. California – Pupil/Teacher Ratio: 23.08

3. Utah – Pupil/Teacher Ratio: 22.75 ( ratio exceeds the national average by 32 percent.)

4. Nevada – Pupil/Teacher Ratio: 21.45

5. Oregon – Pupil/Teacher Ratio: 20.21

*according to Insurify

Teacher turnover costs

Boehme said when teachers quit their jobs, they take school district resources with them.

“Districts invest a lot of money in their new teachers, training them on various programs . . . and that training is expensive and can be lost when a teacher leaves the profession,” she said.

Related:

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

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