Class Ratios: TEACHER TO STUDENT RATIOS IN SPECIAL ED CLASSROOMS

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Catherine:  Our high school just reduced the number of SPED classrooms, while cutting staff, and are adding more students. What is the legal limit for the amount of students they can put in a classroom, and how many adults do they need to have? I strongly believe they can’t meet FAPE with the way the classes are now arranged.

  1. A formal complaint was filed and upheld against my district for not offering a continuum of services and identifying service minutes based on school schedules. The remediation remedy has been to place students in a study skills class. They will receive math one semester and reading the next. Previous to the complaint, they were receiving 1 hour 15 minutes daily for each.
    The sped teacher in the study skills class is banned from accessing the IEP and from attending IEP meetings because she filed the complaint. Is this legal?

    • Federal rules (IDEA) say a parent can invite anyone to an IEP meeting that they feel can be of help. That would include this teacher. This is a question for your state education agency or special ed attorney. Your state parent training and information project, or disability rights office may also be of help. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center

  2. Hi,
    I have 19 students in self-contained 2nd grade classroom with 8 being on IEPs and a few others on 504’s with “push in” support of 1.15 hours a day- (when not pulled to sub., work on IEPs or attend meetings).
    Needless to say, it’s not a smooth year and I’m doing my best with trying to keep the kids progressing, however, I’m struggling as the they are “acting out” on me and each other. I know the ESE kids need mostly 1.1 instruction but can’t do it with being mostly alone with them throughout the day.
    What is the ratio for this type of “inclusion”?… or is it really a SPED class with lack of necessary support?
    Thank you

  3. Is it legal to have middle and high school EBD students in a classroom together? I work at an alternative school in Kentucky and I feel as though having a 6th grader and a 10th grader in the same classroom together will not turn out well, especially when both students can be aggressive.

  4. Is there a limit to the number of IEP students that can be assigned to one general education classroom teacher (in Ohio)?

  5. In NYS. What is the percent of IEP students allowed in a general Ed class with only that general Ed teacher in it?

    • That would depend on state laws, and rules. Depending on the impact on individual students, it could be a violation of FAPE.

    • The legal question is whether each child in this K-6 self-contained classroom is receiving a free appropriate education that is tailored to the child’s unique needs. Hard to imagine that this is possible.

  6. If there are 120 students in 4 classrooms, how many students are there in 1 class room. (Hint: think proportions)

    • 30 and 29 of the students are in special education. By putting the one general education student in the class they can call it co-taught.

      • what if there is no coteacher in the class. How many speds can be in a collaborative setting or monitored setting before another teacher or aid needs to be in the class

  7. I will be starting my transition class (18 to 21 year olds) next fall with 21 students. They cognitively range from 31 year to almost at level. 2 have severe behavior issues, 1 parent who sues the district and accuses teachers constantly, several need toileting and feeding and we’re supposed to have them out in the community in job experiences. I can’t even imagine how I can give any of these students the help they need, which makes me feel terrible. Are there any limits or help I can get.

    • I suggest starting with the campus, & district special ed leadership. IEPs can & should list the supports staff need to implement it. Ask to meet with staff who are knowledgeable of transition in general, staff who are knowledgeable of these students. Nationally, & probably at the state level their should be information on transition. Also explore what is available thru the state vocational agencies.

  8. I co-teach in a CWC with an excellent special ed teacher. Each year, though, the counselors are putting more and more students with IEPs in our class. This year, we have 63% of the students in the CWC with IEPs. Does anyone know if there is a Missouri law/standard for the ratio of reg ed students to those with IEPs?

  9. 24% of my classes are listed as needing Special Education services. What are the best practices for me to teach them successfully in a Foreign Language classroom?

  10. I teach in Georgia. I am the regular education teacher with a co-teacher in all my classes. Some of my classes have more special education students than regular education students. Is there a ratio of regular ed students to special ed students that constitute inclusion? I feel that with classes that are heavy with special education students, more so than regular education students, is illegal according to IDEA. I’m not sure of the law so I want to double check before I question. For example, one of my classes has 12 special education students and 6 regular education students.

    • Many districts in GA have waivers for class sizes and I believe most co-taught classes are like you described (more special education students than general education students). It’s not helpful for any student but because of the waivers with the state, they seem to be able to get away with it.

    • This is two years later, but I am a high school ELA teacher, and I have an English III class with 15 IEPs and 7 gen ed students. I don’t think that’s fair to the students.

  11. Is there a law prohibiting general ed students with no Iep to attend a resource room with special ed students?

    • Regular education students should never be a special education classroom. Part of an IEP states this and when a parent signs, they are agreeing their students can be in a special education classroom.

    • IDEA, the federal special ed law, does not address the issue of general ed students in a resource room where kids with IEPs go to get special education services.

      Do you know — for a fact — that general ed students are going to a resource room although they don’t have IEPs and don’t receive special ed services?

      • Using “incidental benefit” I have been taught the students with an IEP can access the instruction occurring within a sped setting if it’s something they need and “there is room”

  12. What is the legal amount of student with disabilites in a mild/mod classroom to adult ratio in a public school in California?
    Thank you!

  13. I work in a California middle school as a paraprofessional with 4 Special Ed students who fall under my responsibility. We have no SDC teacher or classroom at this school. Is this illegal? Is the school out of compliance?

    • Your state education agency would have to answer that, if the district or teacher associations won’t tell you.

  14. I am a middle school art teacher with general education classes. Some of my classes have rosters of 34 and 35 learners including self-contained students with no aide. Last year our district Art Office required an increase in reading in Art. This year our district Art Office requires that we increase writing in Art classes. I feel bad that I have been unable to meet my wonderful students’ unique needs. I recognize that IDEA’s erroneous classification of visual art as “non-academic” caused these incorrect policies to be adopted. I had hoped ESSA would help art education but my class size has increased and all aide support has disappeared since it was passed. Unfortunately, our union is not allowed to discuss class size, I am told. Is there any other suggestion to correct rostering policies?

    • In such situations like this I feel that the best approach is to focus on the situation at your campus with your student & not district policies. You can try to find supporters at your campus & community to develop a plan to improve the situation for your students. Are parent volunteers allowed on your campus?

  15. It’s so disappointing that we all seem to be in different levels of the same boat. I have 27 special education students at this time. Collectively, they have 10 hours of resource minutes included in their IEPs and I have six hours of possible classroom time to support them. My schedule overlaps so much that some students are only receiving assistance from me for 10-15 minutes each day, regardless of the fact that their IEPs require 30-90 minutes of resource help each day. I am fortunate that I have four paraprofessionals who cover all of the inclusion minutes that are on top of the students’ resource minutes. Power on, friends, and know that you do make a difference even if no one acknowledges it!

    • I am literally in the same boat! I had 27 now 29. I am fortunate enough if I even get to spend a full 15 minutes with them. How do you handle this if you don’t mind me asking. Love to pick your brain!

  16. Not every state education agency has rules or laws regarding this. Other sources of “caseload limits” or “class size” may be in the teacher’s or classified staff’s collective bargaining agreements. And it’s also important to remember, ratios may reflect “best practices” advisories from the state education agency, but not be actual citations of law.

  17. There are legal limits to the number of special education students per teacher or aide as well as legal limits to classroom totals. These ratios are determined by the students’ placement.

    • Andrea, The student-teacher ratios are usually different from one state to another. In most if not all states, the ratios are determined by the State Department of Education. Many states give guestimated student-teacher ratios so it can be next to impossible to get a firm number.

  18. From everything I have read, there are no laws protecting special day class teachers for classroom or caseload. CA has recommendations from the SELPA and everything else, in our district anyway, is negotiated to amend our contract. I sent a letter to the state because I was providing all our resource services and special day class simultaneously. The state is aware this SHOULD be addressed, but still nothing has been done.

  19. Is there a law for teacher to student ratio for kindergarten? I have 2 students width Down syndrome and one with autism makes a total of 19 without any one on one teachers aid or no help.

  20. Is there a law i ref/ to the total class load limit for a teacher in sp. ed for SC? I have no more than 8 per class but I have a total of 37. Austistic spectrum and LD and ADHD. TY

    • In Ca resource teachers cannot have more than 28 unless the district files a waiver, which requires more aide support and the Ed specialist is to agree to the terms, more than 32 is never allowed in a resource specialist’s caseload

  21. I teach preschool, I have 20 students in my classroom. I currently have 4 IEP’s with another 3 who are being evaluated and will also qualify. My question is how many students can be in a classroom, how many children total and then how many IEP’s?

    • If there is a rule on this, it would be made by your state education agency. They or teacher associations should be able to tell you.

  22. this year at our school all of the special needs students in the middle school have the same schedule, some of the day they are with a special ed teacher which is fine but the classes (science, social studies, etc) that they are not i they have one para for all of the students. Is this legal?

    • Depending on their IEP, maybe. If the IEP says co-taught for the full segment for 5 days a week then a special education teacher needs to be in there. However, if the IEP only says co-taught for a smaller amount of time, then a para is legal. Many students don’t need specialized instruction for the whole time and a para is an excellent option for the remainder of the time.

  23. When I started the school year, I had 23 students on my caseload, but now I have 38. I know that is 10 over the limit, but I also want to point out that there are 65 students on our campus, and I have over half of those students whereas the other teachers have less than 30 altogether. If they are not going to provide any assistance, should I be paid more? I think the only reason they are doing this is that the district was just sued for over 800K for an issue not related to Special Education

  24. Does California have a law that limits the number of students with IEPs in a general education classroom? Is there a ratio of gen Ed v special Ed students that if reached the class is no longer a gen Ed class?

  25. We are in a teacher shortage crisis at my school in TN. I am not doing the job I was hired for because their was not a low incidence teacher hired. I am the only teacher right now that can write IEP’s which means, I am expected to case manage low incidence and inclusion, and we are getting new students everyday needing an IEP in 30 days. that will put me well over 40 students alone. Is this legal to put teachers in this situation?

  26. middle school life skills unit i have 10 students 2 on wheel chairs 4 on diapers 3 runners some attend class with para assistance weekday is the ratio

  27. What is the teacher to student ratio needed for an aide in a special education classroom in Illinois?

  28. I teach in Arizona. I have a class of 26 students with 15 classified as special needs or on an IEP. There is no way to partner up helpers and I don’t have any aides or para support. My question is there a law that says what percentage of the class can be special education. There are 3 other classrooms that the students can be split evenly but because the district cut support they put them all in one room and then provided me with NO support.

  29. Hi. In Virginia, can anyone tell me how many SPED students must a school have to get one full time SPED teacher? For example, let’s say you have students from varying mild disability areas such as LD, ED, OHI, and maybe one ID. If you have a small class size, can you get a full-time teacher or would you have to settle for a part-time teacher?

    • Google “how many special education students are needed to earn state funding in VA” These resources sound like they will answer your question. You can also contact the state education agency.

  30. Hi. I am a special ed teacher in NYS. I have a class ratio labeled 12:1:2. Are two TAs still required if I have less than 12 students?

  31. In Missouri it seems self contained classrooms at the elementary level can have a 9:1 ratio of students to teacher. We are moving to get rid of the self contained classroom by moving to class with a class/Co teaching system. However, the numbers of LD students in the regular ed classroom is going up. Is there a limit of IEP students that can be in the COTeaching Classroom, as their is in the self contained class?

  32. How many students with IEP’s can a general education class have before it no longer is considered a general education setting?

  33. I am a self-contained primary specialized learning disability teacher in Nevada. I have 15 students in my class and no aid. Is this legal? My admin has not hired anyone even though they have known since August that there is no aid for this class.

    • That is considered a 15:1 and it is totally legal as long as the students IEP says they are to be in a 15:1. If it says 12:1:1 or 6:1:1, then there should be an aid.

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