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Caseload size

Caseload size

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I am very interested in advocating for special education working conditions. Caseload size seems to be the biggest factor, and seems to vary a great deal from state to state. What is a reasonable workload and caseload size?? I have talked to people in some states who have caseloads of 12-15 students with mild disabilities, while others have 40, 50 or more. I have several questions I would like people to respond to: 1) Does your state or district have caseload limitations? 2) What is the average caseload for your district for resource? for Lifeskills?

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Linda Parker's picture

Our state does not have caseload use to be 18-20 for Elementary Resource. Now to have a full FTE at a school you have to have 25-30+..........I got my FTE cut last year to .80 and I have 24 students.

Cheri Maupin's picture
Cheri Maupin
Resource Teacher, Community Based Education, High School from Ogallala, Ne

Our state does not have caseload limits..but our district has an average of 12-16 students on our caseload. We have a combination of students. I have several bi-polar, one behavior, several mentally handicapped and several SLDs. We are a size C school.

Diane Laramore's picture

I believe I was told the new Article 7 lifts the caseload limits. I teach a self contained early childhood class 3-6 year olds. I know that there would be reasonable numbers but I believe it is up to the district.

Juliet Bayer's picture

In Kentucky we are limited to 15 students with an EBD label on our caseload. I am not sure if there are other limitations or if it just for that one label.

Denise Scheppe's picture

Arizona has no case load limits. Elementary resource/extended resource classes in the districts I have worked in have a requirement that you must have more than 17 students in a classroom before an Aide will be assigned. My caseload was 42 students last year in elementary school. I had a mixture of students with various disabilities, SLD, MIMR, and Autism.

This year I am Department Chair at a High School in AZ. Teachers of students with SLD, MIMR, and Autism disabilities have caseloads of 30+ students. Class sizes are around 20 students with no Aides.

Lisa Geisert's picture
Lisa Geisert
Collaborative and Resource Teacher

Wow, reading these above saddens me and the issue has many factors to consider. As far as the actual number, I'd have to check on the latest to see for sure if there have been changes as I have been off work for the last year, resigning to relocate my family, after 8 years with one district.

In KY, I know that, besides the type of disability being a factor in determining caseload number, it was different depending on whether the position was titled as collaborative or resource. As collaborative the limit could not be extended even with an aide, but as a resource teacher the limit could be extended with an aide, however the district was allowed a 30 day timeline in which to be compliance. That gives more leeway than just the 30 days since special ed students are often transient within a district and between districts due to moving in with relatives, friends, foster care situations, etc. and ones testing in and out of qualifying for services. So with these changes happening all the time, I've often seen 30 days turn into... what the school needs it to be. Given the number of variables, schools can simply stall in bringing things into compliance. An additional problem also occurs when part of the day I've worked collaboratively and part of the day students are pulled to resource for certain subjects... so what is the "teacher title" - resource or collaborative? The school simply claims whichever makes it legal on the forms submitted.

I've also seen the school "fudge" numbers in different ways in order to be in compliance. One example of that is twice having had students who should have been labeled FMD but when going through their 3 yr re-evaluation, they would purposely be just one IQ point away from qualifying, thereby keeping them in the MMD category and keeping the percent of alternate portfolios at the allowable amount. It affects head counts for caseload compliance when they're placed in the wrong program. Aside from how morally wrong it is to change the child's IQ (on paper) to dictate the disability category and affect the services, providing fewer services by putting them in the wrong program; it's also nonsensical that the government dictates the percentage of students a district is allowed to have in a certain IQ range in the first place. (If I'm recalling correctly, that is related to the NCLB dictates.)

Geographic's doesn't decide IQ ranges- the students either are or aren't qualified in a particular disability category regardless of what the government wants the percentage to be. That not only affects head count for caseloads, but also the time needed to provide adequate services changes in adding FMD to MMD (the mislabeled ones who had their IQ boosted by a point to keep them in the wrong program to make it appear legal). More time is required to serve these lower students for them to progress regardless of the disability label. Such a mess!

I could list so very many other things like this that are done for "compliance issues" but I think the bottom line has to be that the time the students need should be the measure rather than the number of students. How many teachers have felt a bit of relief in finding they have some students who won't require as much time to be successful when looking at the high numbers on their caseload?

Marys's picture

I work in New York. Resource has a limit of about 22. Only 5 students maximum at one time. I'm in a high school self contained. We used to be a 12:1:1, but we always went over that number and the district was always getting variances, so they changed the class to a 15:1:1. I can have 15 different students for every class I teach. Right now my caseload is 35 students. Can I handle it? Yes,but it is not fair. My students range in age from 14 to 21 in the same class. There are age restrictions everywhere else, but not at the high school level. Crazy. And 15 students, all at different ages and with different needs, is tough. 12 is a much better, more manageable number.
Good luck with your work on making working conditions better. I hope I'm teaching long enough to see it!

LD's picture

I teach sped, autism, I have 9 students, 3 severe, K - 2. the Missouri State "suggestion" for caseload is 8 and 9 is overload. That is, I supposed w/ one para, since they make no guidelines for how many paras. I am appalled at the fact there is NO law stating how many para, how many on caseload per teacher, etc., This state does not mandate and the district takes advantage of it.

Cheri Maupin's picture
Cheri Maupin
Resource Teacher, Community Based Education, High School from Ogallala, Ne

What is everyone's definition of caseload? Is it the classroom or your IEPs or both? I teach 4 student in my Life Skills class but only three are on my IEP caseload. But everyone is correct with the understanding that when the school is short of money that paras are the first to go.

Mr. Dodger's picture
Mr. Dodger
SDC Science in Los Angeles

My district is planning on raising class size (SDC -- Mild/Moderate LH) from 14 to 18. This is wholly unacceptable for many reasons, as most of you would understand. We don't have an 'official' limit on IEP caseload, but typically I've had between 12-15 each year. Our RSP teachers will have 30-40 students that receive services, with a like number of IEPs. Since they don't get any extra prep time, many students miss out on services while the teacher is working on paperwork.

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