New York City Council Committee on Education

Oversight Hearing on Class Size Reduction

February 28, 2020

 

We would like to thank the New York City Council’s Committee on Education for holding this important oversight hearing on class size reduction. INCLUDEnyc (formerly Resources for Children with Special Needs) has worked with hundreds of thousands of families since our founding 37 years ago, helping them navigate the complex special education service and support systems.

We testify today to highlight the need for smaller classes and urge the the city to allocate additional funds in this year’s budget towards hiring more teachers. There is a direct relationship between class size and the over referral of general education students for special education services, a teacher’s ability to deliver student-centered instruction and interventions with fidelity, and effective classroom management. These factors lead to inferior proficiency and graduation rates for students with disabilities, and the extent in which the nearly 220,000 school-age students with IEPs in New York City public schools are college and career ready.

For example, math proficiency rates for students with disabilities in Grades 3-8 last year (2018-19) was 18% compared to 53% for general education students. There is an even greater gap in English, with only 16% of students with disabilities scoring proficient compared to 53% of non disabled students. In addition, only 53% of students with disabilities graduated in four years compared to a graduation rate of 77% for all students.

More teachers leads to smaller class sizes. Smaller class sizes, coupled with supporting teachers with more training, would allow teachers to provide differentiated instruction and meet the individualized special education, social, and behavioral needs of students. With fewer students in the classroom, teachers will have the ability to give and document methodologies and interventions such as Response to Intervention (RtI), implement Universally Designed Learning, and, most importantly, to teach foundational literacy skills such as reading and writing.

In order to close the achievement gap in New York City between disabled and non disabled students, we believe all teachers need training in the following areas:

  • Basic characteristics of disabilities, especially learning, emotional, intellectual, physical, ADHD, and sensory processing disorders
  • Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS)
  • Behavioral supports, interventions, and strategies
  • Effective co-teaching
  • Value of inclusion and creating an inclusive school and classroom environment
  • How to partner with parents in their child’s education

The quality of academics and support for students with disabilities should not be compromised because they are educated in inclusive general education and Integrated Co-teaching (ICT) classrooms that are too large.

Thank you for taking the time to consider these important matters. We look forward to working with you to improve equity and access for all students with disabilities in New York City.

 

Sincerely,

Barbara A. Glassman
Executive Director