Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT)

Students with disabilities who receive Integrated Co-Teaching services are educated with age appropriate peers in the general education classroom. ICT provides students the opportunity to be educated alongside their non-disabled peers with the full or part-time support of a special education teacher to assist in adapting and modifying instruction.

As described in the NYC Continuum of Services for Students with Disabilities, Integrated Co-Teaching “ensures that students master specific skills and concepts in the general education curriculum, as well as ensuring that their special education needs are being met, including meeting alternate curriculum goals.”

The title of the services was changed from Collaborative Team Teaching to Integrated Co-Teaching when the service was incorporated in the New York State continuum of services. The state requires all school districts to use the terminology “Integrated Co-Teaching” so that the level of services being provided to a student is clear and consistent among school districts.

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Ratio/Maximum Number of Students with Disabilities and Variances

Class composition and functional grouping

Service delivery (full-day vs. individual subjects)

Models for team teaching

Resources for team teaching


According to the state, school personnel assigned to each Integrated Co-Teaching class must minimally include a special education teacher and a general education teacher. In New York City, the special education teacher must be certified/licensed and appointed in special education and the general education teacher must be certified/licensed and appointed under a general education or content area license. The general education or content area teacher has primary responsibility for delivery of content area instruction in an ICT class. For this reason, the special education teacher assigned to an ICT class does not have to meet the standards for a Highly Qualified Teacher under No Child Left Behind in the subject area(s) of instruction


According to the NYC Continuum of Services for Students with Disabilities, “[w]hen they team teach, the general education and special education teacher meet to co-plan and prepare lessons, activities and projects that incorporate all learning modalities. Together, the general education and special education teacher carry out instruction employing a range of methodologies.”

In Collaborative Team Teaching, Live Q & A for School Administrators, NYC DOE consultant Marilyn Friend identified common planning time for teachers as essential and one of the “top 10” issues that must be addressed directly for ICT/CTT to be successful.

Ratio/Maximum Number of Students with Disabilities and Variances

The number of students with disabilities in an Integrated Co-Teaching class may not exceed 40 percent of the total class register with a maximum of 12 students with disabilities. Integrated Co-Teaching  classes must adhere to general education class size limits. Under Integrated Co-Teaching, classes that normally have a class size limit of 20 students will increase to 25 students, with a maximum of 10 students having disabilities.

The limit of 12 students with disabilities in an Integrated Co-Teaching class was added in 2008 as a result of changes in state regulations.

The 40 percent and 12-student limit includes any student with a disability in that class, regardless of whether all of the students are recommended for integrated co-teaching services. For example, if two students with disabilities in a class are recommended for resource room and related services and 10 are recommended for integrated co-teaching services, there are 12 students with disabilities in that classroom. While the two students in the above example may benefit incidentally from the integrated co-teaching services, their IEPs would not need to specify the integrated co-teaching services.

Effective December 2010, state regulations were changed to allow schools to add one additional student (13th student) to an ICT class by notifying the State Education Department and to add a 14th student with prior approval by the State Education Department. According to state guidance, schools can exceed the maximum of 12 students with disabilities in ICT classes “only when exceptional circumstances arise.” Examples of “exceptional circumstances” provided by the SED are students who are newly identified as disabled or move into the school district during the school year. Schools must begin the school year in compliance with the 12-student limit and they must not routinely apply for waivers. When notifying the SED of the addition of a 13th student or applying for a variance to add a 14th student, the school must “demonstrate educational justification and consistency with providing an appropriate education for all children affected” [ i.e., the entire class]. The Commissioner may revoke or preempt any increase in the number of students with disabilities in an ICT class beyond the regulatory maximum if he finds that the increase would not be consistent with appropriate special education.

A city DOE memo reinforced these state guidelines along with existing rules regarding the composition of ICT classes in New York City public schools. The DOE memo states that the addition of the 13th student “should be used infrequently.” The DOE memo also states that “NYC will continue to adhere to its policy, whereby the maximum number of students receiving ICT services in a class cannot exceed 40% of the total register of the ICT class.” “Doing the ‘Math” on ICT Variances” describes the interplay between the DOE’s 40 percent rule, the SED’s 12-student maximum and the variance procedures.

Class Composition and Functional Grouping

Generic special education classroom

Marilyn Friend, consultant to the NYCDOE on team teaching, identifies class composition as one of the “top ten” issues that must be directly addressed by school administrators.

Functional grouping requirements apply to students with disabilities in Integrated Co-Teaching classes. State regulations require students with disabilities placed together for purposes of special education (including integrated co-teaching) to be grouped by similarity of individual needs in accordance with the four need areas: academic achievement, functional performance and learning characteristics, social development, physical development and management needs.

The determination of whether integrated co-teaching is an appropriate recommendation for an individual student with a disability must be made on an individual basis. For some students, integrated co-teaching would be an alternative to placement in a special class with the added benefit of having both a special education and a general education teacher deliver the curriculum to the student. For each student, whether the general education classroom is the least restrictive environment for the student to receive his or her special education services should be made in consideration of, but not limited to the following factors:

  1. the classes in which integrated co-teaching is offered and the match to the student’s needs;
  2. the extent of special education services the individual student needs to access, participate and progress in the general education curriculum;
  3. the similarity of needs of the other students with disabilities in the class;
  4. the potential effect of the class size on the student’s learning needs;
  5. any potential benefits and harmful effects such services might have for the student or on the quality of services that he or she needs; and
  6. whether the extent of the environmental modifications or adaptations and the human or material resources needed for the student will consistently detract from the opportunities of other students in the group to benefit from instruction.

Stated another way, Integrated Co-Teaching may not be an appropriate service for a student with a disability if the student

  1. requires so much of the teachers’ time that the teachers cannot give adequate attention to the needs of other students in the classroom, and/or
  2. the student is so disruptive in the general education classroom that the education of the student or other students is significantly impaired, and/or
  3. the student requires the curriculum to be modified so significantly that it bears little relation to the instruction in the classroom.

There is no regulatory maximum number of non-disabled students in an integrated co-teaching class. However, the number of non-disabled students should be more than or equal to the number of students with disabilities in the class in order to ensure the level of integration intended by this program option. An important consideration in determining the number of students with disabilities and non-disabled students on an integrated class roster is that the ratio must not result in a de facto segregated class which would undermine the philosophy of inclusive practices.

  • We Team Teach
    A NYC DOE-sponsored website with resources for educators working in an Integrated Co-Teaching environment

Service Delivery: Full Day or Individual Subjects

Integrated Co-Teaching may be provided for all subjects or on an individual subject basis.  When Integrated Co-Teaching is recommended for less than the full school day, the student’s IEP must indicate the specific subjects or instructional areas in which the student requires Integrated Co-Teaching services. 

The DOE’s publication of Special Education Business Rules for Schools in June 2013 introduced confusion in the field about the meaning of “full time” ICT services.  Under the Business Rules students who receive ICT for all four core academic areas (defined in the document as ELA, Math, Science and Social Studies) in schools with an 8 period day are considered “full time” for funding purposes.  The fact that students are considered full time for funding does not mean that students are not eligible for ICT services in other subject areas, i.e., art, music, physical education, cluster and special subjects, based on their individual needs.  ICT services can and should be recommended for non-“core” subjects any time a student needs the service to succeed in that subject.

Models for Team Teaching

NYCDOE consultant Marilyn Friend identifies six team teaching models. They are:

  1. Team Teaching: Both co-teachers deliver instruction to the whole group at the same time.
  2. One Teach, One Observe: While one teacher leads the lesson, the co-teacher collects specific data about the students, the co-teacher or the environment.
  3. Station Teaching: Teachers divide content and students. Three groups of students rotate through three stations in which they work on non-hierarchical activities.
  4. Parallel Teaching: Two co-teachers teach the same content to separate groups simultaneously.
  5. Alternate Teaching: One teacher works with the large part of the class while the co-teacher works with a smaller group.
  6. One Teach, One Assist: one teacher leads instruction while the co-teacher circulates providing unobtrusive help as needed.

Experts recommend that the last option, One Teach, One Assist, be used sparingly. This model does not take full advantage of having two teachers in the classroom. It can result in one teacher, most often the general education teacher, taking the lead role most of the time while the special education teacher functions more like a paraprofessional or teaching assistant than as a co-educator.

Models of co-teaching can vary during the course of the school day. Teachers should not have to commit to only one approach of co-teaching.

  • We Team Teach
    A NYC DOE-sponsored website with resources for educators working in a Collaborative Team Teaching environment
  • Access Center

Resources for Team Teaching

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