Students with disabilities are grouped for special class services based upon similarity of educational needs. These needs include, but are not limited to,
- levels of academic or educational achievement,
- learning characteristics and styles,
- social development,
- physical development,
- and the management needs of the students in the classroom.
Classes may be composed of students with the same disability or with different disabilities but with similar educational/functional needs.
When grouping students for special classes by similarity of needs, the levels of knowledge and development in subject and skill areas (e.g., activities of daily living, level of intellectual functioning, adaptive behavior, expected rate of progress in acquiring skills and information, and learning style) must be considered. The range of academic or educational achievement must be limited to assure that instruction provides each student appropriate opportunities to achieve his or her annual goals. The learning characteristics of students in the class must be sufficiently similar to assure that no students fall behind in academic achievement because their instructional needs are not being addressed.
The achievement levels in reading and math in special classes with a ratio of 12:1, 12:1+1 or 15:1 should not exceed three years. If a school operates a class in which reading and math achievement levels exceed 3 years, the school must provide the Field Support Center and the parent of each student in the class a description of the range of reading and math achievement levels and the general levels of social development, physical development and management needs in the class by Nov. 1 of each year. The parents of any new students entering that class after Nov. 1 must be provided the same information.