George Lucas Educational Foundation

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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Sharon Carroll's picture
Sharon Carroll
k-2 Lifeskills Special Education Teacher in Oregon

Thanks Samer. It's nice to be around more colleagues. :)

Kim Kleve's picture

My school has a matrix they follow based on how many points each student is worth. They get points for pull out time, # of goals, accommodations, etc. You are not allowed to go over 120 points. When I went over this year by 15 points, my principal adjusted my schedule and hired an additional paraprofessional to help.

John Hanson's picture
John Hanson
Special Education Director

This is my first post, so here goes! The best answer in special education is "It depends." If you work in a larger school, the ability to specialize based on disability category is a little easier...such as bd, life skills, asd, and sld. Typically, the higher the need of student, the fewer students you should have on your caseload. At McCook (NE) Public, our life skills teachers typically have anywhere from 6-10, and I think that is pretty standard across the midwest, at least for where it should be. Our teachers that have bd caseloads are close to that range, but maybe a little higher, like 8-12ish. Another reason why it's important to keep these teachers caseloads relatively low is the supervision of paraeducators assigned to these high needs students. If your caseload is primarily students with learning disabilities, that you may only see once or twice a day and don't have the significant needs as life skills and bd students, their caseload should be in the 12-20ish range.

If you are a lone special education teacher in a building or even a rural district, you get them all! So, that being said, and there are always exceptions to the rule, the magic number should be right around 15ish.

Samantha Y.'s picture

Wow, after reading some of these comments I am shocked! I have a caseload of about 25 currently in Arizona and while teaching in Indiana, I had 20-30. It is insane to me that some teachers have 60 students on their caseload list. When I say this, I mean case carriers that are responsible to hold IEP meetings, etc. for the students. I see numerous students who may or may not be on my caseload, but as far as being a case carrier, there definitely needs to be some law to decrease the numbers!

Jane Chu's picture

I am a special ed Life Skills teacher in AZ. This is my 3rd year in high school, and I am still struggling with not having time to see my caseload students who are SLD or ED. The major struggling is I have to write the goals for them. Especially when their subject teachers did not provide enough information, how I am going to write goals for them and not really reflect the students' needs?

Shelly Shumpert's picture

Laurie, I am working on the same thing! What state are you in? Perhaps we could collaborate! I am in Oregon, and have been researching your same questions, which is how I stumbled upon this post. So far states with maximums seem to hover around 30. I am interested in collecting the averages for each state. I intend to start a petition and go to my state legislature to try to get a max caseload put in place. I would love to tackle this with others, so contact me if you are interested! Thanks!

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Online Community Engagement Manager

Shelly, I just wanted to point out that this post was originally published in 2009, and so Laurie may not be following it anymore. If there's anything the community here can do to help you though, just let us know.

LAng's picture

Check out California Education Code 56360-69. Caseload limits for resource is 28. This is also the 9th Circuit and they have laws governing the caseload limits for resource, speech and early childhood. Oregon has not adopted these rules-as far as I can find at this point, which makes Oregon behind the laws established in California. So Oregon needs a boost to catch up. If you have resources, then this would be a way to move it in the right direction.
56360. Each special education local plan area shall ensure that a
continuum of program options is available to meet the needs of
individuals with exceptional needs for special education and related
services, as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education
Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1400 et seq.) and federal regulations relating
(c) Caseloads for resource specialists shall be stated in the
local policies developed pursuant to Section 56195.8 and in
accordance with regulations established by the board. No resource
specialist shall have a caseload which exceeds 28 pupils.
(d) Resource specialists shall not simultaneously be assigned to
serve as resource specialists and to teach regular classes.
(e) Resource specialists shall not enroll a pupil for a majority
of a schoolday without approval by the pupil's individualized
education program team.
(f) At least 80 percent of the resource specialists within a local
plan shall be provided with an instructional aide.

kelly w's picture

Hi Kim,
I'm looking into this idea in my district, and would love to take a look at your matrix. Is this something that you can share?

Alex Shevrin's picture
Alex Shevrin
Community college teacher, former school leader, Edutopia community facilitator

Hi Kelly, it looks like Kim's comment above was from a couple of years ago and I'm not sure she'll see your note here. You could try sending her a private message through the Edutopia site, or post your own community discussion asking others for resources by going here:


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