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How many students am I supposed to be teaching?

Having too many students in a classroom shortchanges all the kids and makes it tougher for you to do your job effectively. But Virginia law provides only modest relief from excessive class sizes and teaching loads.

Paragraph C of Virginia Code section $ 22.1-253.13:2 establishes division-wide ratios and upper limits of 29:1 for Kindergarten (with an aide required for classes of more than 25); 24:1 in grades one, two, and three (with no class being larger than 30 students); 25:1 in grades four through six (with no class being larger than 35 students); and 24:1 in English classes in grades six through 12.

Above the 6th grade, the code requires that the schoolwide ratio of students to full time teaching positions should not be higher than 21:1. Note that there are no caps on class sizes at the middle and high school level, as there are for elementary schools.

The state also sets limits on the number of students middle and secondary teachers teach each week. In September, the State Board of Education adopted new accreditation standards defining standard teaching loads for middle and secondary teachers. Space prohibits printing them here, but they are posted at (see pages 39-40). You'll note that there is a higher limit on the number of students for music and physical education teachers.

If you have difficulty calculating the permissible class loads, your VEA/NEA UniServ Director can help compare the limits (as well as any local requirements) to the situation you're facing.

You can also help address excessive student loads by working with VEA colleagues to show your local school board, the State Board of Education, and members of the General Assembly how many pupils you teach and how that teaching load affects your students.



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