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Teacher-Pupil Ratio in Special Education (updated May 2003)

What regulations determine the class size of special education classrooms? What is the ratio of special education students to teachers?

The teacher-pupil ratio in special education is determined by each state. Some states have statewide policies on class size; some states have no policy; and a few states let the local education agency (LEA) determine class size. Staffing ratios are usually based on the disability category and educational placement of the student, with classes for children with severe disabilities usually having fewer students. Some states are reexamining their policies to better support students in inclusive settings. As they revise their policies on the teacher-student ratio, they are looking at the intensity of services needed and the amount of time required for the specially designed instruction.

Following are selected citations from the ERIC database and the search terms we used to find the citations.


You can search the ERIC database yourself on the Internet through either of the following web sites:

ERIC Citations

The full text of ERIC documents (for example, EDxxxxxx) is available:

  • In microfiche collections worldwide; to find your nearest ERIC Resource Collection, point your web browser to: http://ericae.net/derc.htm.
  • For a fee through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service (EDRS): http://edrs.com, service@edrs.com, or 1.800.443.ERIC. (no longer available)

The full text of citations beginning with an EJ number (for example, EJxxxxxx) is available for a fee from:

ERIC Search Terms Used

special education OR disabilities

AND

class size

ED439574 EC307753
Special Education Issues in Caseload/Class Size. Quick Turn Around (QTS) Forum.
Publication Date: March 2000
6p.
Available from: Project FORUM at NASDE, 1800 Diagonal Road, Suite 320, Alexandria, VA 22314. Tel: 703-519-3800 (voice); Tel: 703-519-7008 (TDD) (available in alternative formats).
EDRS Price: MF01/PC01 Plus Postage
Language: English
Document Type: REPORTS (141)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Virginia
Journal Announcement: RIESEP2000
This issue brief provides an update on state regulations on caseload/class size in special education. The regulations from 27 states were reviewed and characteristics of state regulations are explained. Findings indicate that no two states have the same regulations on class size/caseload for special education. The size of the regulation varies from as short as one sentence to a very detailed eight pages. Two general types of regulations exist: those that are prescriptive on the basis of various elements and those that are nonprescriptive or general in nature. Among the prescriptive states, some use one criterion, while others use a combination. Limits are given in different forms; some are specific numbers while others use a range. In addition, some states use maximums and others use averages. States using single-criterion regulations use type of program, type of staff, and type of disability to set pupil-teacher ratios. Those states which have multiple criteria regulations use the following categories: by disability and program type, by disability and grade level, by program type and grade level, by teacher license and grade level, and by program type, grade level, and disability.
Descriptors: *Class Size; *Criteria; *Disabilities; Elementary Secondary Education; *Special Education; Specifications; *State Regulation; State Standards; *Teacher Student Ratio; Elementary Secondary Education; Specifications; State Standards

EJ630911 EC627972
Teachers' Perceived Needs To Become More Effective Inclusion Practitioners: A Single School Study.
Edmunds, Alan
Exceptionality Education Canada; v10 n3 p3-23 2000
ISSN:1183-322X
Language: English
Document Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080); RESEARCH REPORT (143)
Journal Announcement: CIJFEB2002
Sixty-one junior and senior high school teachers responded to measures of perceptions of inclusion, needs for effective inclusion practice, and knowledge of inclusion. Teachers felt inadequately prepared for inclusion and indicated their primary need was for more specific inclusion training. They also believed that reducing workloads would be of particular benefit.
Descriptors: *Class Size; *Disabilities; *Inclusive Schools; *Knowledge Base for Teaching; *Teacher Attitudes; *Teacher Education; Foreign Countries; Professional Development; Secondary Education; Teacher Competencies
Identifiers: Canada

ED390193 EC304457
Caseload/Class Size in Special Education: A Brief Analysis of State Regulations. Final Report.
Ahearn, Eileen M.
National Association of State Directors of Special Education, Alexandria, VA. Dec. 12, 1995
66p.; Prepared by Project FORUM.
Sponsoring Agency: Special Education Programs (ED/OSERS), Washington, DC.
Contract No: HS92015001
EDRS Price - MF01/PC03 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: PROJECT DESCRIPTION (141)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Virginia
Journal Announcement: RIEMAY96
Target Audience: Policymakers
State special education regulations on class size/caseload in special education programs and services are analyzed, and regulations from 21 states are excerpted. Research on class size in general education and special education is reviewed. While there are hundreds of studies reported for general education, there have been very few studies focused on class size and special education. Characteristics of some state regulations that govern student-teacher ratios are addressed. State requirements for class size/caseload in special education programs and services are more specific and complicated than those for general education. It is suggested that there is no single best way to determine appropriate class and group size for special instructional programs and services. However, there is a need for more research to identify factors involved to support the policymaking process. Regulatory information is presented for the following states: Alabama, California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah, and West Virginia.
Descriptors: *Class Size; *Disabilities; Educational Policy; Elementary Secondary Education; *Special Education; Special Education Teachers; *State Regulation; *Teacher Student Ratio; Teaching Load

EJ461283 EC605515
Caseloads of Teachers of Students with Behavioral Disorders.
Algozzine, Bob; And Others
Behavioral Disorders, v18 n2 p103-09 Feb 1993
ISSN: 0198-7249
Language: English
Document Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080); RESEARCH REPORT (143)
Journal Announcement: CIJAUG93
Caseloads of teachers of students with serious emotional disturbances/behavior disorders were examined to compare current service delivery across states. Caseloads ranged from 3 to 35 students per teacher. Evaluation of hypothetical relations between caseload and predicted student achievement showed that predicted achievement decreased as caseload increased.
Descriptors: *Academic Achievement; *Behavior Disorders; Class Size; Elementary Secondary Education; *Emotional Disturbances; National Surveys; *Teacher Student Ratio

ED319206 EC230896
Class Size Reduction Policies: Survey Results.
Butler, Shirley E., Comp.
National Association of State Directors of Special Education, Washington, D.C. Aug 1989; 33p.; For related document, see EC 230 894. Best copy available.
EDRS Price - MF01/PC02 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: STATISTICAL MATERIAL (110); LEGAL MATERIAL (090); RESEARCH REPORT (143)
Geographic Source: U.S.; District of Columbia
Journal Announcement: RIEOCT90
This survey gathered data from 36 state directors of special education as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs and American-controlled principalities regarding their area's regulations (or lack thereof) for reduction of class sizes in regular education classes when disabled students are mainstreamed into those classes. Only Massachusetts and Hawaii were found to have such regulations, and their programs are described. Five of the others allowed such regulations to be assigned on a local level, while in other areas such matters were managed through provisions of teacher contracts. Details on all states' provisions are given.
Descriptors: *Class Size; *Disabilities; Elementary Secondary Education; Eligibility; Faculty Workload; Handicap Identification; *Mainstreaming; *State Legislation; State Programs; *State Standards; State Surveys; Teacher Qualifications; *Teacher Student Ratio

ED355708 EC301956
Investigating the Influences of Class Size and Class Mix on Special Education Student Outcomes: Phase One Results. Keith, Patricia B.; And Others
18 Feb 1993; 7p.; Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Eastern Educational Research Association (Clearwater, FL, February 18, 1993).
Sponsoring Agency: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (ED), Washington, DC.
Contract No: M159A10002
EDRS Price - MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: CONFERENCE PAPER (150); RESEARCH REPORT (143)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Virginia
Journal Announcement: RIEAUG93
This study investigated students with specific learning disabilities (SLD), serious emotional disturbances (SED), and educable mental retardation (EMR) to determine if class size and class mix influence educational outcomes. A total of 110 students in 12 classrooms were included in the sample, which included classes with waivers (classes out of compliance with Virginia standards) for class size or class mix; waivered classes with SLD, SED, and EMR students; and classes in compliance with Virginia standards (non-waivered classes). Four academic achievement areas and nine affective areas were used as educational outcomes in the quantitative and qualitative research. Results indicated that student achievement is affected by class size; students in single disability classes appeared to have higher reading, math, and social studies achievement than students who were mixed with other disabilities; students in non-waivered classes had better general behavior and were making more progress toward their educational goals than students in waivered classes; student self-concept, motivation level, time on task, educational aspirations, liking of special education classes, and awareness of special education placement were not significantly different in waivered versus non-waivered classes; and teaching methods were not significantly different.
Descriptors: Academic Achievement; Affective Behavior; *Class Size; Elementary Secondary Education; *Emotional Disturbances; *Grouping (Instructional Purposes); *Learning Disabilities; *Mild Mental Retardation; Outcomes of Education; *Performance Factors; Student Behavior
Identifiers: Virginia

ED369207 EC302936
Special Education Program Standards Study. Commonwealth of Virginia. Final Technical Report.
Keith, Timothy Z.; And Others
Virginia Polytechnic Inst. and State Univ., Blacksburg.; Virginia State Dept. of Education, Richmond. 25 Aug 1993 261p.; Sponsoring Agency: Department of Education, Washington, DC.
Contract No: N159A10002
EDRS Price - MF01/PC11 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: RESEARCH REPORT (143); TEST, QUESTIONNAIRE (160)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Virginia
Journal Announcement: RIESEP94
Government: State
This federally funded study investigated Virginia special education program standards, focusing on local applications of the standards for class size and class mix and the effect of varying class size and class mix on student outcomes. The study concentrated on students with educable mental retardation, severe emotional disturbance, and specific learning disabilities. The research model involved interviews, observations, and document reviews at three local education agencies and a survey of over 1,000 special education teachers and administrators. The study found that: (1) Directors of Special Education and special education teachers consistently recommended smaller resource classes than current standards allow; (2) teachers believed that manageable class sizes with paraprofessionals were not much larger than manageable class sizes without paraprofessionals; (3) students in larger classes achieved at a lower level than students in smaller classes, with reading achievement affected more than mathematics and with elementary students affected more than secondary students; (4) smaller classes had no effect on students' self-concept, behavior, level of motivation, work habits, or interpersonal skills; (5) Directors supported mixing students with different disabilities in the same class while teachers did not; (6) mixing students with different disabilities had no effect on academic achievement, motivation, self-concept, work habits, or interpersonal skills; and (7) most Directors support noncategorical placement and integration into regular education. Appendices provide copies of the survey forms and various program administration materials. Descriptors: Academic Achievement; *Administrator Attitudes; Classroom Environment; *Class Size; *Disabilities; Elementary Secondary Education; Emotional Disturbances; Learning Disabilities; *Mainstreaming; Mild Mental Retardation; Outcomes of Education; Special Education Teachers; *State Standards; *Teacher Attitudes; Teacher Student Ratio
Identifiers: *Virginia

ED407387 SP037303
A Review of Literature: Special Education and Class Size.
McCrea, Linda D.
30 Sep 1996; 32p.
Sponsoring Agency: Michigan State Board of Education, Lansing.
EDRS Price - MF01/PC02 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: REVIEW LITERATURE (070)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Michigan
Journal Announcement: RIESEP97
This review has two parts: the first concerns class size and general education; the second, class size and special education. The general education review is in four sections: (1) foundational class size research; (2) critiques of the foundational works; (3) extended research; and (4) five studies in class size research conducted by states. The second part (on special education) reviews representative samples from an ERIC search of approximately 387 articles. These studies were: a national survey conducted by the University of Minnesota (1989) to document student to teacher ratios; also at the University of Minnesota (1993) an investigation of ratios of less than 15:1; a study conducted by the Virginia State Department of Education (1994) on special education program standards; another study in Virginia (1993) that investigated whether class size and class mix influenced educational outcomes; a New York State Education Department study to evaluate the impact of larger class size on those involved in the special education delivery system; and a study of individual caseloads. The review of these special education studies found that: (1) the maximum student to teacher ratio in special education is usually 15:1; (2) students are generally grouped by academic performance, not by their educational and management needs; (3) smaller classes provide better environments for learning, especially at the elementary level; (4) student achievement and behavior are affected by class size; (5) class size is impacted by other variables, including use of paraprofessionals and teacher experience; and (6) there is no one best teaching methodology to assure students success.
Descriptors: Academic Achievement; *Class Size; Disabilities; Educational Policy; Educational Research; Elementary Secondary Education; *Small Classes; *Special Education; Special Education Teachers; State Regulation; *Teacher Student Ratio

EJ458139 PS520132
Instruction in Special Education Classrooms under Varying Student-Teacher Ratios.
Thurlow, Martha L.; And Others
Elementary School Journal, v93 n3 p305-20 Jan 1993
ISSN: 0013-5984
Language: English
Document Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080); RESEARCH REPORT (143)
Journal Announcement: CIJJUN93
Compared instructional variables for first through sixth grade special education students who received instruction under different student-teacher ratios. There were significant differences in measures of qualitative and quantitative aspects of instruction, with nearly all favoring lower student-teacher ratios.
Descriptors: *Class Size; Comparative Analysis; *Disabilities; Elementary Education; *Elementary School Students; *Elementary School Teachers; Instructional Effectiveness; *Special Education; Special Needs Students; *Teacher Student Ratio; Teacher Student Relationship
Identifiers: *Instructional Variables

EJ390643 EC212893
State Recommended Student-Teacher Ratios for Mildly Handicapped Children.
Thurlow, Martha L.; And Others
Remedial and Special Education (RASE), v10 n2 p37-42 Mar-Apr 1989
Language: English
Document Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080); EVALUATIVE REPORT (142)
Journal Announcement: CIJOCT89
Thirty-nine states provided guidelines on student-teacher ratios for mildly handicapped students receiving special education services. Extreme variation was found in state recommended ratios and how ratios were defined. Ratios varied by special needs category, level of service, grade level, and age range; some states used weighted mathematical formulas.
Descriptors: *Class Size; Elementary Secondary Education; *Mild Disabilities; *Public Policy; Special Education; *State Standards; *Teacher Student Ratio; Teaching Load

ED304814 EC212504
Student and Instructional Outcomes under Varying Student-Teacher Ratios in Special Education. Research Report No. 12. Instructional Alternatives Project.
Thurlow, Martha L.; And Others
Minnesota Univ., Minneapolis. Aug 1988
37p.; Sponsoring Agency: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (ED), Washington, DC.
Grant No: G008630121
EDRS Price - MF01/PC02 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: RESEARCH REPORT (143)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Minnesota
Journal Announcement: RIEAUG89
The study examined the impact of varying student-teacher ratios on task completion and success, student instructional time, and quality of instruction in special education classes for mildly handicapped students. Subjects were 139 mainstreamed elementary students (grades 1-6), most of whom were categorically labeled as learning disabled (n=114). Students were observed during their special education time, within student-teacher ratios that varied from less than 1:1 (one student with two teachers) to over 15:1. Using grouped ratios represented by 1:1, 3:1, 6:1, 9:1, and 12:1, students' academic engaged time, task completion, and task success, as well as the qualitative nature of their instruction were compared. Targeted student behaviors were recorded by trained observers using rating scales and observational instruments. Data from structured interviews with students and teachers were also used. Significant differences were found in measures of both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of instruction, with nearly all favoring the lower student-teacher ratios. Lack of observed differences in task completion and task success rates (which were very high for all students in all student-teacher ratio groupings) was attributed to task content during special education instructional time.
Descriptors: *Academic Achievement; Class Size; Elementary Education; *Grouping (Instructional Purposes); *Learning Disabilities; Mainstreaming; *Mild Disabilities; Outcomes of Education; Teacher Effectiveness; *Teacher Student Ratio; Time on Task

EJ393699 EC220409
Special Education Student-Teacher Ratios for Mildly Handicapped Children.
Ysseldyke, James E.; And Others
Journal of Special Education, v23 n1 p95-106 Spr 1989
Language: English Document Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080); EVALUATIVE REPORT (142) Journal Announcement: CIJDEC89
A survey of 141 elementary and 79 secondary teachers of students with mild handicaps found that the average student-teacher ratio was 4.7:1, with a range of 1:1 to 15:1. Minor differences were found as a function of the students' categorical designations and elementary versus secondary level.
Descriptors: Class Size; Elementary Secondary Education; *Grouping (Instructional Purposes); *Mild Disabilities; *Teacher Student Ratio

ED306720 EC212783
Student-Teacher Ratios and Their Relationship to Instruction and Achievement for Mildly Handicapped Students. Final Project Report. Monograph No. 9. Instructional Alternatives Project.
Ysseldyke, James E.
Minnesota Univ., Minneapolis. Dept. of Educational Psychology. Aug 1988
45p.; Sponsoring Agency: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (ED), Washington, DC. Grant No: G008630121
EDRS Price - MF01/PC02 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: PROJECT DESCRIPTION (141)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Minnesota
Journal Announcement: RIEOCT89
This project report describes major features of the 2-year Student-Teacher Ratio Project, including objectives, personnel, activities, findings, and resulting products. The project's purpose was to conduct an analysis of the efficacy of current practices in student-teacher ratios for providing special education services to mildly handicapped students. Results of current research on student-teacher ratios within regular education remain inconclusive. The first of four studies revealed great variability in current special education student-teacher ratios, which were examined through an analysis of state guidelines and a national survey. In a second study, observations of 139 mildly handicapped elementary students under different student-teacher ratios (1:1, 3:1, 6:1, 9:1, 12:1) revealed differences in the qualitative nature of instruction and student academic response time, but no significant differences for task completion and task success. Next, a case study analysis revealed that the special education categorical label assigned to the student was unrelated to the effectiveness of different student-teacher ratios. A fourth study examined opinions about optimal student-teacher ratios for both student learning and teacher instruction. Results indicated that parents and teachers tended to prefer smaller group sizes, while administrators preferred larger group sizes. Project products, references, and a list of related research reports are appended. Descriptors: Academic Achievement; *Class Size; Educational Environment; Educational Quality; Elementary Education; *Grouping (Instructional Purposes); *Instructional Effectiveness; Labeling (of Persons); *Mild Disabilities; *Teacher Student Ratio

ED304816 EC212506
A Case Study Analysis of Factors Related to Effective Student-Teacher Ratios. Research Report No. 14. Instructional Alternatives Project.
Ysseldyke, James E.; And Others
Minnesota Univ., Minneapolis. Aug 1988
85p.; Sponsoring Agency: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (ED), Washington, DC.
Grant No: G008630121
EDRS Price - MF01/PC04 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: RESEARCH REPORT (143)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Minnesota
Journal Announcement: RIEAUG89
Case study analyses of nine mildly handicapped elementary students were conducted to identify factors related to gains in achievement and to higher active academic responding times (ART) in relation to different student-teacher ratios. Six learning disabled and three educable mentally retarded students (grades 3-5) were observed in special education settings under different student-teacher ratios. Information was collected on each student in the areas of aptitude, achievement gains during a one-year period, behavior, the nature of home, school, and community learning environments, methods of instruction, and the student's academic engaged time (and other times) under different student-teacher ratios. Results indicated considerable inter-individual and intra-individual variability in all factors examined, but few consistent trends. Among conclusions discussed is that ART changes in relation to several variables, particularly the content area of instruction, the nature of the task, and environmental distractions. The data also seemed to indicate that the special education categorical label assigned to a student does not determine the effectiveness of different student-teacher ratios. Results suggested that ART is higher when the method of instruction is some form of direct instruction.
Descriptors: Academic Achievement; *Achievement Gains; Case Studies; Class Size; Elementary Education; *Grouping (Instructional Purposes); *Instructional Effectiveness; Labeling (of Persons); *Learning Disabilities; *Mild Mental Retardation; *Teacher Student Ratio; Time on Task
Identifiers: Direct Instruction
 

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