FAQs from School Administrators
1. Is there a cap on the number of students with disabilities who can be placed in a general education classroom? Is there a recommended ratio (of students with and without disabilities)?
The Florida Department of Education does not place a cap on the number of students with disabilities who can be placed in a general education classroom. The only guidance FDOE gives regarding the number of students in a classroom exist as part of the Class-Size Reduction Amendment and apply to all students, not just students with disabilities.
When looking at programs for students with disabilities, the literature recommends that the ratio of students with and without disabilities reflect the natural proportions in the school. In other words, if 20 percent of the students at a particular grade-level are students with disabilities, then the classrooms at that grade-level should have approximately 20 percent students with disabilities and 80 percent students without disabilities. When implementing a co-teaching model, it is recommended that the ratio not exceed 1/3 students with disabilities and 2/3 students without disabilities. It is important to remember that, while co-teaching provides a lower student-teacher ratio, increasing this ratio or reducing the level of support may lessen the benefits of inclusion.
2. What should I expect to see teachers doing in a collaboratively taught inclusive classroom?
Generally speaking, in collaboratively taught inclusive classrooms one would expect to observe two teachers actively engaged in the instructional process, flexible grouping of students, differentiated lessons and assessments, and interaction between both teachers and all students. More guidance about what collaborative teaching looks like can be found in Volume 3 of our Administrator FACT Folios.
3. How do we code teachers who are providing support in one of the inclusive model of supports?
The Florida Department of Education assigns a code to indicate whether a teacher meets the definition of a Highly Qualified Teacher. For more information on this coding system, including how this applies to teachers providing support in one of the inclusive models of support, please visit the following links:
- Highly Qualified Teacher Status: http://www.fldoe.org/teaching/certification/ed-certification-rule-dev/certificate-communications.stml
- Narrative Section of the 2016-17 Course Code Directory: http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/7746/urlt/CCDNarrative1617.pdf
4. The funding generated through ESE Matrix seems inadequate to meet the needs of our students. How can we maximize our funding/staff?
In our current economic climate, finding additional sources of funding is difficult at best. As such, schools need to focus on getting the most out of their existing resources. The process of Flexible Scheduling for students with disabilities is critical to the success of any school’s implementation of inclusion. It is essential that school-based teams work collaboratively to develop student and staff schedules that reflect student needs, effective supports for all students, and maximizes existing resources. For more information about this process, please review our CUE Card on Inclusive Scheduling and contact your local FIN facilitator to set up a meeting to discuss how FIN can help you with this process.
5. How does inclusion tie into Response to Intervention (RtI)?
Inclusion and RtI both focus on increased accountability, the use of data to make effective instructional decisions, improved outcomes for all learners within the general education curriculum and settings, and increased collaboration among general education and special education personnel.
For more information on RtI in Florida, please visit the following websites:
- Florida’s Multi-Tiered Systems of Support – http://www.florida-rti.org/
- Problem Solving and Response to Intervention – http://floridarti.usf.edu/
- Florida Positive Behavioral Support (PBS) Project – http://flpbs.fmhi.usf.edu/
6. What will inclusion look like at my school?
While there are common components (communication between general education and special education, collaborative planning, models of support, etc.) in all inclusive schools, there is no one “right” way to do inclusion. FIN supports schools as they set goals that are focused on the needs of their students and teachers. For more information about the kinds of supports FIN provides to schools, please contact your FIN Facilitator. Additional information about establishing/expanding inclusion at your school can be found in our Administrator FACT Folio series.