Special class staffing ratios

Special classes offer different levels of staffing intensity depending upon the intensity of a student's academic and/or management needs. Special class maximum sizes may range from six to 15. Staffing for classes will be one teacher and up to four paraprofessionals. Students recommended for a more intensive student to staff ratio require more intensive and constant adult supervision to engage in learning. When a student is recommended for special class services, the IEP must state the number of students who will be in the class and the specific ratio of special education teachers and paraprofessionals.

Special Class Staffing Ratio 12:1 (elementary and junior/middle levels in NYC only) and 15:1 (high school)

  • no more than 12 or 15 students per class depending on level
  • one full-time special education teacher

Serves students whose academic and/or behavioral needs require specialized/specially designed instruction which can best be accomplished in a self-contained setting.

Special Class Staffing Ratio 12:1:1

  • no more than 12 students per class
  • one full-time special education teacher
  • one full-time paraprofessional

Serves students whose academic and/or behavioral management needs interfere with the instructional process, to the extent that additional adult support is needed to engage in learning and who require specialized/specially designed instruction which can best be accomplished in a self-contained setting.

Special Class Staffing Ratio 8:1:1

  • no more than eight students per class
  • one full-time special education teacher
  • one full-time paraprofessional

Serves students whose management needs are severe and chronic requiring intensive constant supervision, a significant degree of individualized attention, intervention and intensive behavior management as well as additional adult support.

Special Class Staffing Ratio 6:1:1

  • no more than six students per class
  • one full-time special education teacher
  • one full-time paraprofessional

Serves students with very high needs in most or all need areas, including academic, social and/or interpersonal development, physical development and management. Student's behavior is characterized as aggressive, self-abusive or extremely withdrawn and with severe difficulties in the acquisition and generalization of language and social skill development. These students require very intense individual programming, continual adult supervision, (usually) a specific behavior management program, to engage in all tasks and a program of speech/language therapy (which may include augmentative/alternative communication).

Special Class Staffing Ratio 12:1:4

  • no more than 12 students per class
  • one full-time special education teacher
  • one additional staff person (paraprofessional) for every three students

Serves students with severe and multiple disabilities with limited language, academic and independent functioning. These students require a program primarily of habilitation and treatment, including training in daily living skills and the development of communication skills, sensory stimulation and therapeutic interventions.

Upon application and documented educational justification to the State Education Department, approval may be granted to exceed the special class sizes. The class size may not be exceeded unless and until the State Education Department grants the variance.

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