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How much attention do our children receive at school? Class size is a huge factor to consider when evaluating a school’s effectiveness and achievement gap.  Classroom size is one of the most critical topic to help ensure quality education, teaching and accountability.

Based on an average Massachusetts Teachers Union Contract the "optimum" (desired) classroom size is 25. Many of our Massachusetts PUBLIC schools have well over 25 students in a classroom with NO Paraprofessionals/Aid in a "inclusion" environment. These numbers reflect students with Individual Educational Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan, which require additional educational accommodation to be academically successful. Student-teacher ratio are based on the total number of school instructional staff divided by the total enrollment of students, which is also determined by the "budget". Clearly their are NO discussions around the need for quality instruction for students in "inclusion/general education" receiving special education services through a "LEGAL ABIDING CONTRACT" under a Free Appropriate Public Education under the IDEA Act (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).

As a parent I am highly concerned that our children with "challenges" are NOT receiving quality education due to lack of academic support for our educators and children while in "inclusion/general education".  Based on Education Laws and Regulations 603 CMR 28.00: Special Education this the laws and regulations for Placement and Service Options: 

28.06: Placement and Service Options:

6) Instructional grouping requirements. When eligible students aged five and older receive special education services for some or all of the school day outside of the general education environment, the school district shall make every effort to maintain the student's access to the general curriculum and participation in the life of the school. The school district SHALL DEVOTE RESOURCES to develop the school district's capacity for serving such eligible students in less restrictive alternatives.

(a) Programs serving young children shall meet instructional grouping requirements of 603 CMR 28.06(7).
(b) The size and composition of instructional groupings for eligible students receiving services outside the general education classroom shall be compatible with the methods and goals stated in each student's IEP.
(c) Instructional grouping size requirements are maximum sizes and school districts are expected to exercise judgment in determining appropriate group size and supports for smaller instructional groups serving students with complex special needs. When eligible students are assigned to instructional groupings outside of the general education classroom for 60% or less of the students' school schedule, group size shall not exceed eight students with a certified special educator,12 students if the certified special educator is assisted by one aide, and 16 students if the certified special educator is assisted by two aides.
(d) Eligible students served in settings that are substantially separate, serving solely students with disabilities for more than 60% of the students' school schedule, shall have instructional groupings that do not exceed eight students to one certified special educator or 12 students to a certified special educator and an aide.
(e) After the school year has begun, if instructional groups have reached maximum size as delineated in 603 CMR 28.06(6)(c) and (d), the Administrator of Special Education and the certified special educator(s) providing services in an instructional group may decide to increase the size of an instructional grouping by no more than two additional students if the additional students have compatible instructional needs and then can receive services in their neighborhood school. In such cases, the Administrator must provide written notification to the Department and the parents of all group members of the decision to increase the instructional group size and the reasons for such decision. Such increased instructional group sizes shall be in effect only for the year in which they are initiated. The district shall take all steps necessary to reduce the instructional groups to the sizes outlined in 603 CMR 28.06(6)(c) and (d) for subsequent years.
(f) The ages of the youngest and oldest student in any instructional grouping shall not differ by more than 48 months. A written request for approval of a wider age range may be made to the Department, which may approve such request.
(g) Instructional group sizes in all programs approved under 603 CMR 28.09 shall be limited to those outlined in 603 CMR 28.06(6)(d), and no such instructional groups shall have an age range greater than 48 months.

Are you concerned that "inclusion/general education" has NO CLEAR laws or regulation around the "optimum" or "maximum" classroom size for students in "general education" with an educational plan? Do you think classroom size should be address now or later? What would be an ideal classroom size? Should our Massachusetts Teachers Contracts and DESE Laws and Regulations for Special Education be updated to reflect "general education"? If classroom size are over the desired size should teachers be LEGALLY responsible for being "dual certified" to ensure they are qualified to provide the accommodation needed for children with educational plans?

If our teachers are NOT supported then our kids are NOT receiving quality education that is their CIVIL RIGHT.


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