Home > Advocacy and policy > The rules on class sizes for gifted students

The rules on class sizes for gifted students

Did you know that Georgia sets limits for the headcounts in gifted classes, including high-school AP classes?

I did. So when I found out one of the AP classes at my child’s school has more than 30 students, I decided to step into my advocacy role and dig a bit deeper into the rules. I got information from administrators at the school, district and state levels, and now I’m writing this post to share what I learned with you.

Let’s start with the rule itself. The Georgia Resource Manual for Gifted Education Services, which lays out how gifted students are to be identified and served in public schools in Georgia, states: “The total class size specified by the SBOE [State Board of Education] is 21 at the high school level.”

So why are high school AP classes so often larger than that?

First, public school systems in Georgia can get a “strategic waiver” from the state which allows them to exceed the state’s class size rules by a few students. These waivers allow extra students in all classes, not just gifted classes.

(Does your school system have a strategic waiver? Most do. You can check the Department of Education’s list to find out.) 

Second, the class size standards are treated more as goals than absolute requirements. Schools are expected to do what they can to meet the standards when possible, but if class sizes go above the limits, there are no consequences.

Nevertheless, if your gifted student is in a class that’s been designated as gifted or AP and the class has too many students, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to the assistant principal who oversees scheduling. They may not know that state policy calls for smaller class sizes for gifted sections.

Always be polite and non-confrontational. Educators work hard and have to balance the needs of hundreds of students using limited resources.

Finally, be reasonable and realistic. If your school has two sections of AP Government, and each has 36 students, you can make a good argument that a third section should be added. Or if one section has 30 students and the other has 20, it’s reasonable that the two classes should be balanced to 25 students in each section.

On the other hand, if the school has just one section of AP Physics, and the class has 30 students, it may not be realistic to ask that the school break this class into two sections of 15. School funding formulas can rarely provide the financial support for classes that small.

I hope this is helpful in your advocacy for your student and for other gifted students in your school community.

Categories: Advocacy and policy
  1. Trisha
    January 13, 2022 at 7:47 am

    So at a time when teachers are leaving the profession and not enough teachers to teach require classes, this is a very disappointing article to read.

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