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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.

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02/07/2019 8:26 pm

I’m a special education teacher in Michigan looking for the student teacher ratio in a resource special education class. I thought it was 15, but I’m not able to verify the number.

02/11/2019 10:31 am
Reply to  Nancy

This says 5:1 for ASD

MARSE R 340.1758 Programs for students with autism spectrum disorder.
Rule 58.

For other disabilities, and depending on student ages this seems to be different. Just check out the regulations: Michigan Administrative Rules for
Special Education (MARSE) With Related IDEA Federal Regulations.

…only 178 riveting pages – but you can search the pdf.

02/20/2019 10:09 am
Reply to  Nancy

Nancy: I am looking for this information too. However, I am looking for what is the legal limit for a Special Ed teacher’s caseload in Michigan? I thought it was 24, but that it could be more with a waiver.

I know the limit of students in the classroom is different. I am glad they are now implementing a stricter class size limit. I was overloaded with students of all ages and all sorts of learning disabilities and challenges in one classroom with no paraprofessional assistance. It was not a good situation for me, and more importantly it was not a good situation for the students. There was no way to give them each the instruction and assistance the each student needed.

10/06/2019 4:29 pm
Reply to  Jeri

I am a general education high school teacher in CA, I have 24 students in my class and 11 of them have IEPs, 4 have 504’s and 8 have medical alerts. I do not have any ancillary staff.

02/20/2020 12:54 pm
Reply to  Marie

I am the same in middle school. Nobody can give me a straight answer

01/15/2021 9:35 am
Reply to  Marie

WoW!!!! You poor thing!! I’m a special education teacher but also spent several years in a reg ed setting as well. You need to say something and ask for help!!! Thats not what is best for all kids!!! Not that you are not an amazing teacher because i’m sure you are……its just asking way too much for one person!!

01/12/2020 8:42 pm
Reply to  Jeri

Does caseload include all students being served minutes, or just the ones that are in your case manager caseload?

12/11/2018 11:44 am

I’m a Sp.Ed. teacher (in my 24th yr) in Alabama. I’ve got
31 students on my caseload, no aide/para, and stay at work from 7:15-6:00 at least 4 days a week. When I started teaching (at the same school I’m currently at), we had 4 Sp. Ed. teachers, two full time aides and two full time Speech therapist. I have students with IQ’s from 56-115.
It’s a joke…

02/07/2019 8:29 pm
Reply to  Leslie

Sorry t hear this, Thats ridiculous! It’s a disservice to the students and you’re set up for failure.

03/21/2019 1:52 pm
Reply to  Leslie

After 24 years…..YOU ARE A SAINT!!!

11/30/2018 5:27 am

I am a special education teacher in South Carolina. I can’t find the maximum number of special education students permitted by law in an inclusion class. I am very sure that anything which exceeds 70% special education to 30% regular education does not meet the inclusion guidelines. Can someone lead me to the law so that we are doing what is right for special education students?

11/30/2018 2:51 pm
Reply to  Tina

Your state parent training and information center should know.

03/13/2019 11:07 am
Reply to  Tina

Did you anything for SC? I’m trying to find out how many for self-contained (I thought 15 but cannot find it on paper). Inclusion would be nice to know too! I thought that was it couldn’t be more than 50% sped…?

08/08/2019 1:18 pm
Reply to  Tina

I have a document for Maggie…this may help. I am currently working on this with my district after an overloaded year last year that I do not want to repeat this year. This outlines maximum teaching loads and caseloads for each of the clusters of grade levels (el, mid, hs).

10/09/2019 8:22 pm
Reply to  Emma

Thanks Emma!

11/18/2018 12:25 am

I am currently a Pre-K teacher for an ECEAP program that is included in our School District. I currently have 6 students of 10 that are on IEP’s and 2 who are not on IEP’s but have severe behavior issues. 3 of the 6 that are on IEP’s are extremely high needs. I really only have 2 typical children in this class and I feel bad for them, as I feel that they are getting cheated out of what they need.
I have a para as well as an aide in my classroom. Is this enough coverage for this type of learning environment?

10/09/2018 8:37 pm

Does anyone know what the student to teacher ratio is for colorado in generalized mild to moderate classrooms for special education students? Or where I could find this information? Thank you!

10/10/2018 3:29 pm
Reply to  Marissa

Your state parent training and information project should know.

12/20/2018 12:43 am
Reply to  Chuck

What is the point of using this website in regard to the law when you direct us to a parent website instead?

12/20/2018 12:41 pm
Reply to  Marie

Marie: Great question – thanks for asking. We can’t remind people enough to check your own state regulations!

We often point you to the directory for your state Parent Training and Information Center so you can find a contact in your state. As Chuck advises, contact a person at your state PTI. Ask them where you can find the information. Often the answer to people’s questions can be found in a district’s policy & procedures, if they can be located.

WHY? Because “state” special education regulations vary from state to state. You must check your state regs to learn what your state requires, (i.e., state standards for ESY).

The Wrightslaw Way Blog and the main website provide comprehensive information about the federal law and regulations – but you must also read and know your own state regulations. Your state regulations must be consistent with the requirements of the federal laws and regulations.

For more information about “Legal Concepts and Education Laws” see the Wrightslaw Year in Review books (2015-2017).

Pete explains –

To receive federal special education funds, states must develop special education statutes and regulations. State statutes and regulations may provide more rights than federal law, but may not take away rights provided by federal law.

After you understand the federal law and regulation, read your state special education statute and regulations.

In the Wrightslaw search box I googled “know your own state regulations”. The search of articles and information on Wrightslaw returned about 1200 results advising you to check your state regulations.

For this reason, we also created the Wrightslaw Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities. On this site you can find resources in your state, a listing of all state PTI’s, and the website for your state department of education with a link to the state rules. (Note: Each state revises its regulations from time to time. We try to keep up nationwide, but please ensure you have your state’s current regs, Google can help.)

I hope this helps answer your question.

02/11/2019 11:23 am
Reply to  Marie

Join I agree with you Marie. I am tired of finding this search results just to be directed elsewhere. Time is PRECIOUS

10/09/2019 8:28 pm
Reply to  Lori

Folks, the advice to contact your state Parent Training Information Center for the rules and regs for your state is good advice for parents and for teachers. What is Wrightslaw? Are we a parent site, a teacher site, or a site for all people who want accurate, reliable information about the wild world of special education?

10/08/2018 10:47 am

I have three K-1 students in my mild/moderate self contained special ed class. Do I have to have a Teacher Assistant? What are the ratios?

10/06/2018 10:54 am

i have 12 behavior kids 4 extremely servere need to know the ratio

09/21/2018 9:15 pm

I am a parent in GA, and in one county my son received wonderful service. He loved his para & she was with him all the time. My son is high functioning autistic, and the principal would allow him while in 2nd grade to attend the 5th grade Science Club and address them on volcanoes, earthquakes, and other subjects which he was well versed.
When we moved to another county, the experience was completely different. While trying to keep him in a full inclusion environment I began to get calls from the school almost on a daily basis that our son was having a meltdown. On nearly every occasion the para had just stepped out, and it was the classroom teacher left alone who was having the problem.

09/24/2018 11:00 am
Reply to  Tim

I would question why the para is stepping out and is not with your son.

Momma K
10/09/2018 5:12 pm
Reply to  jeannie

The Para could have a break time scheduled in. They are permitted by law, 2- 15 minute breaks and 1- 30 minute linch per day.

09/24/2018 1:20 pm
Reply to  Tim

Requesting an IEP meeting to discuss this situation is certainly an option. Your state parent training & information center can be a source of help to you.

09/04/2018 6:00 pm

How many special education students can be in a general education class?

09/06/2018 3:26 pm
Reply to  Abel

This depends on your state rules. Your state education website should have this. Your state parent training and information project should be able to assist you.

09/02/2018 7:52 am

I’m a regular ed teacher in Connecticut with class ratios of 40-50% sped students. My classes range from 22-27 students. There are no paras or co-teachers of any kind. I teach high school General Science and Biology. I cannot find information on the legal limit for the number/ratio of special education students in a classroom. I’ve gone to the state education website and the recommended parent resource websites. Why is it so difficult to find this information? I’m concerned for the safety of all my students–my courses are lab sciences! I feel as though I cannot do justice to either my regular education students or my special education students. I strongly believe that special ed students belong in a regular ed class. But not at these high ratios and with NO support staff.

09/04/2018 5:20 pm
Reply to  Angela

Your state parent training and information project should know.

12/05/2018 12:34 pm
Reply to  Chuck

Unfortunately Chuck, there is no information on any of your suggested websites…….

12/05/2018 2:57 pm
Reply to  robyn

Hi Robyn: Chuck is great about participating/responding on the blog – but he works in Texas, I’m not sure if he is available today. In the meantime, I’ll jump in.

I think you must be asking about the links that Chuck provided to the Center for Parent Information and Resources.

This site has great information for parents and professionals, including the legacy resources from NICHCY. Check the resource page for articles and, if you have questions, be sure to use the search box to look for topics.

Re student/teacher ratios. I’m not sure you’ll find the specific answer on the CPIR website – because, as Chuck said, it depends on your own state rules. Your state Parent Training and Information Center can help you with questions that are specific to your state. That’s why Chuck always includes a link to “Find your Parent Center.”

Find your state information and contact someone at your state PTI for answers to your questions.

Another listing of PTIs is here:

I hope this clarifies some – and I hope you’re able to get the information you need about your state rules.

12/09/2018 3:35 pm
Reply to  Wrightslaw

Wrightslaw, Thanks for your comments. While PTIs have websites with great info, when I say “your PTI can assist you”, I am suggesting that you contact a person at the PTI. But often it depends on who you talk with. Many of our staff do not know the TX rules on this, so they contact me. Ask them where you can find the information they provide. Often the answer to people’s questions can be found in a district’s policy & procedures, if they can be located.

02/11/2019 11:28 am
Reply to  robyn

Amen, Robyn

09/25/2018 7:07 pm
Reply to  Angela

I’m looking for similar information as I, too, have a gen ed class of 37 students in which I have no adult support and 1/3 of my class has IEPs/504 plans. I’m in California.

09/26/2018 12:08 pm
Reply to  Yadi

Do the IEPs for these child state that they require specialized instruction in the subject you teach? If not, then there would be no need for a co-teacher or parapro in the classroom, but if their IEPs call for the support then you should have it. 504 plans typically do not come with an adult to support the child, they fall under general education and are the responsibility of the gen ed teacher to implement.

01/29/2020 11:30 pm
Reply to  Angela

I am in the same boat in CT. I could not find anything on it. The state of CT does not legally have a ratio for the amount of special education students versus general education students. Thus also 50% of my students, 3 significantly special needs, have plans in kindergarten and I have 20 littles. I have 1 untrained aid and 1 1:1 for a particular student. CT needs to do better.

08/30/2018 10:09 pm

Hi all,
After some research, it doesn’t look like my state (VA) has a max for a general ed classroom, though after reading some of your comments I noticed a few of mentioned current research saying more then 30% is ineffective. Can anyone link me to this research? Thanks!

08/17/2018 1:35 pm

What age ranges are allowed together in each SDC classroom. Is it true that kids must be within 36months apart to be in the same room in CA? Is this a federal law?

08/16/2018 10:54 am

What is maximum number of ID students with one teacher in a classroom at one time in DC?

08/29/2018 11:15 pm
Reply to  Joseph

I’m what state?

08/14/2018 4:01 pm

In the state of Illinois, is there a law stating that there is a limit to how many students can be in a self-contained classroom?

08/15/2018 2:11 pm
Reply to  Christine

Your state parent training & information project would know.

08/13/2018 12:58 pm

How many students with IEPs can be in a general education classroom in Maryland?

08/14/2018 3:57 pm
Reply to  malka

Your state parent training and information project, , or state education agency special ed webpage can tell you.

08/12/2018 1:04 pm

Can someone please send me a link describing SDC class ratios for California’s.. I’m looking through ca ed law and can’t find clear answers

08/13/2018 11:40 am
Reply to  Allen

The CA parent training & information for your area can assist you.

08/07/2018 10:47 pm

In California, at what percentage in a preschool setting is the teacher required to be sped credentialed?

08/01/2018 3:34 pm

I have a general education course with 34 students. Of the 34, 24 are on IEP. I have one co-teacher. Is this within AZ law?

07/26/2018 4:45 pm

What is the ratio of teacher to student for EBD classrooms. self contained

07/27/2018 8:02 am
Reply to  SIDNEY

Depends on your state and school system.

05/27/2018 9:47 am

What is the teacher to student ratio for a preschool Special Day Class?
Is there a class size limit for a special education preschool class?

05/28/2018 9:59 am
Reply to  Rene

That would depend on your state. I can give you the regular preschool from my state Pennsylvania. Preschool is a 10:1 ration. 10 students to 1 teacher. Contact your state education department and they should have an answer for you.

05/28/2018 10:00 am
Reply to  Rene

You can also do a google search on preschool special education class ratios in your state.

05/23/2018 9:08 pm

I want to find research that proves that a ratio of 30% of special ed kids mixed with typically developing peers is the maximum limit for the program to be effective. I have 16 preschoolers, 9 have special needs or behaviors. (all 9 have IEPs). I do have 1 para, but it is almost impossible to meet the needs of each child with such a high ratio.

05/04/2018 6:16 pm

What is the ratio of students in a classroom who have IEP’s before a licensed SPED teacher is required? I have a class of 13, 12 of which have IEP’s and I am not a licensed SPED. Are there any laws talking about this?

05/08/2018 10:48 am
Reply to  Monica

If there is any rule on this, it would be a state rule. Many states leave this up to the district, & IEP team to decide.

Pamela C
06/19/2018 11:28 am
Reply to  Chuck

what about in massachusetts?

06/19/2018 7:32 pm
Reply to  Pamela C


I don’t know about Massachusetts but you could contact you state education offie and they should have the answer.

06/07/2018 12:48 pm
Reply to  Monica

i hate IEP 🙁

06/07/2018 5:08 pm
Reply to  sadness


Why do you hate the IEP? Its designed to help students with disabilities succeed and be able to get an education. Its their lifeline as I like to think of it. I sincerely hope that you are not a teacher if you hate IEP’s because you are going to have to deal with them weather you like it or not.

07/14/2018 2:54 pm
Reply to  Marcus

Sometimes the iep becomes a label for life. Universal design language provides opportunities for all to learn. Yes it’s true that a plan is needed as a roadmap but in no way should it provide a wall between peers. The SPED label needs to be removed!

03/13/2018 2:42 pm

Hell I am trying to find an answer hoping you all can help. I have sped preschool and am not clear on the ratio. Four days a week I have 8 students and myself(teacher) and an aide. One day a week I have 14 students with same amount of adults. My aide will take her break (lunch,15, and break to pump breast milk) and I am alone. I am not getting clear answers from my district. Help please……..

03/14/2018 2:30 pm
Reply to  Theresa

The state education agency may have rules on class ratios for special education, or they may leave it up to the schools. Check their website or try googling “special education class ratios for (X state).”

Karen C.
02/07/2018 6:05 pm

At the elementary level I have 7 IEP students and 2 504 disabilities with 5 second language learners which puts my classroom at 70% non standard learners. Is this appropriate for the students with special needs? I am not ESE certified and only get two small amounts of time with ESE/’VE support. Is this within expected limits for least restrictive environment?

03/27/2018 11:16 am
Reply to  Karen C.

30% is the acceptable number of inclusion students for your class. It is when you have 60% inclusion with an aide who is too busy to show up that becomes unbearable and unfair to students. I always felt like I couldn’t give enough time to each SPED student and it was a detriment to my on-level students as well.

07/18/2018 11:27 am
Reply to  Jean

I am looking for research to support a smaller ratio of classified students in an inclusive classroom. Do you have any resources I can explore?

01/30/2018 6:54 pm

What is the maximum number of special ed students that can be included into a general education class? How many adults are required? What is the teacher-to-student ratio required for special ed students? As of today I have 19 special ed students with IEPs in a class of 23 students. The special ed students are 14 years old on average and the most proficient student is reading at the second grade level.

03/02/2018 5:07 pm
Reply to  Lauren

i don’t know that’s what i’m trying to find out

03/12/2018 1:33 pm
Reply to  Lauren

United Teachers of Los Angeles was able to bargain to have the SDC mild to moderate class size limit 15. You can also find a limit for Autism classes on their webpage. “Industry standard” (which I’m not sure who sets) says 15 to 1.

01/24/2018 9:33 pm

I am a self contained ED k-2 teacher. I currently have 9 students and am expecting another one. I have a 1:1 for a specific student so it is me to 9 other students at that point. At what point, are we out of ratio?

01/25/2018 3:48 pm
Reply to  J

This would depend on your state rules on size. Some states have no limit. Your state education website or state parent training and information center can help you.

01/24/2018 2:13 am

Is there research somewhere that helps specify ratios for sped teachers to students as well as ratios for students to related service providers, etc.?

01/02/2018 11:15 am

I teach a 12:1:1 self contained and the district add another student. They would have to put in a variance, however does that mean another paraprofessional has to be added? I live in New York State.

11/20/2017 12:45 pm

I have 41 students in 1st through 5th. Is that too much to have in Washington state?

01/12/2018 6:59 pm
Reply to  Antonio

Yes! Do you have parapros, if not this is way to much.

10/24/2017 8:56 pm

What is the teacher-student ratio for Special Ed.classes in California? Is there a limit?

03/12/2018 1:35 pm
Reply to  Roz

Unfortunately there are no limits. Only for resource classrooms. It would be great if California Teachers Association can help get class size limits for SDC teachers. So far, I only know of the United Teachers of Los Angeles who has class size limits in their contract.

08/12/2018 5:35 pm
Reply to  Concerned

I definitely agree that the unions need to unite and make this a state-mandated number just like RSP has for their caseload. As part of a bargaining unit, the MM teachers approached our district to do the right thing. I am part of the EFT SPED State Committee and from what I heard, there are several districts with union contracts such as UTLA with numbers 14-16 for MM classes. I teach MM and have had up to 28 students in my class. Another time I had 4 MM with 7 SH. It just becomes a dumping ground when they do not have enough classes for our students. If anyone wants to take this state change on, I’d be more than happy to help.

10/18/2017 10:03 am

I have 37 students in 7th grade English with 17 special education students. Is that legal in Michigan?

10/18/2017 9:25 am

I have 29 students and 14 of them are special ed, is that legal?

10/03/2017 9:28 pm

I have 33 kids in my class room an 5 special education kids with one paraprofessional is that legal

03/27/2018 11:18 am
Reply to  Paul


09/09/2017 11:25 am

I am a special education teacher in a self contained life skills classroom. I have 10 students ages 12-20 in my room. Is that age difference legal??

09/11/2017 2:14 pm
Reply to  Jackie

It depends on your state rules, & who is making the determination. You can make an inquiry to your state education agency.

08/30/2017 1:40 pm

I am in a similar situation as Catherine. In graduate school, the idea of an inclusion classroom was 50% special-education students and 50% PLUS ONE regular-education students. Legally, the teachers seem to have no recourse — pointing this out to school-level administrators doesn’t get a teacher anywhere except a bad evaluation; complaining to the state level could jeopardize one’s job. Notifying the parents would be a violation of FERPA.

08/28/2017 8:54 pm

I’m teaching middle school in GA and I am the core teacher in an inclusion class. The total number of students is 23 with 17 students being SPED. Each student has 8-9 accommodations on average. My understanding was that the law limited the number of SPED students in an inclusion class to 10. However, after asking about this I was told that the school did not accept federal $$$ for the SPED program specifically so that it did not have to conform to the rules & regs. It’s just easier to schedule when you can shove lots of kids into one room, even when the majority of them are reading 4-5 years below grade level. It amazed me that this is legal.

08/29/2017 11:37 am
Reply to  Barbara

In some states, teachers are paid extra if their classroom number size exceed their union contract. Some of my teacher friends, in situations similar to yours, use a type of teaching style to ALL in the classrooom They hit as many accommodations as possible so all students benefit and they can maintain their jobs and sanity. In other words, they do accommodations across the board if most of the class needs the same accommodations and so forth. For a reading class, book is read via tape to the entire class, study guides are given to everyone, –get the point!! My friend called it her own version of “universal design” as she had to maintain her sanity and her job. Students actually love her teaching style.

08/12/2018 5:38 pm
Reply to  Morning

congratulations to your friend!

04/17/2017 12:11 am

I am a sped self contained teacher in a 1:15 (max) classroom of K-5. Recently a meeting was held without me knowing which put me over my limit to 1:16. I have voiced my cornerns that this does not legally follow the program standards, and I still do not have an additional aide to accommodate the 10% variance. If my district is not being receptive to this, as it is the law, what steps (legally) can I take next? I haven’t even seen a proof of approval for a waiver. Things are not transparent and are not being handled appropriately and correctly. I have already voiced my concerns through all chain of commands. Nothing is being done.

04/17/2017 2:13 pm
Reply to  Jessica

You are dealing with a state rule. The state education agency can tell you what your options are, & you can make a complaint if you want to.

concerned in FL
03/24/2017 10:28 am

I am currently having the same problem with 15 ESE students for ELA. They range in age from 2nd to 5th grade. They are a mix of SLD, OHI, EBD, IND(Mild, and one OI. I was originally assigned 2 Student care attendants (paras) to help. This worked well. Now I find myself alone most of time with just “babysitting/management” going on. I cannot find any answers as to what the legal limit is for teacher to student ratio online. This is an injustice to the students and it is falling on deaf ears when I bring it up.

12/14/2016 12:17 pm

I am teaching a reading intervention class for 90 min per day. I currently have 18 students (all special education mild/moderate). I don’t have an instructional aide and I am working on my own. I agree with these numbers I can not give the individualized attention the students need to be successful.

08/24/2016 3:31 pm

There is no ratio set in federal rules. Some states have set a ratio. You can check the state website or with your state parent training & information center.