Most Japan schools hit kindergarten ratio
Stars and Stripes August 30, 2009
TOKYO — All but one elementary school in Japan is expected to meet an 18-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio in kindergarten classes, a new goal for Department of Defense Education Activity schools worldwide, according to school officials in the Pacific.
The smaller class sizes come after re-adjusting staff and classroom space and hiring seven new teachers, according to Dr. Paula Miller, assistant superintendent for the Japan District.
Last year, the Japan schools averaged 24 kindergartners per class, according to data provided by DODDS-Pacific.
"That’s an incredible change," Miller said. "And all these classrooms are still going to have [full-time] aides. It means much more one-on-one."
The ratios are based on estimated enrollments for the first few days of school and could change slightly through September, Miller and others said.
For now, the estimates show that only Yokota West Elementary School will be over the goal, at 23-to-1, according to DODDS-Pacific spokesman Charles Hoff. The previous standard was 29-to-1, Hoff said.
Schools in other Pacific districts — South Korea, Okinawa and Guam — are also working toward the goal, which has no set deadline, according to Diana Ohman, the new director of DODDS-Pacific.
In other districts in the Pacific, only Osan American Elementary School is projected to meet the 18 to 1 ratio.
Kindergarten classes sizes are expected to average 22 students South Korea and 26 on Okinawa.
On Guam, school officials are expecting 22 kindergartners at Andersen Elementary School and 26 at McCool Elementary School.
Those who haven’t met the lower ratio are hampered by classroom space or logistics and may need construction or more long-range work to accommodate the change, Ohman said in a phone interview last week.
"If you had the space, you could get the faculty and equipment," she said of the smaller class sizes at each school.