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Journal Issue: Special Education for Students with Disabilities Volume 6 Number 1 Spring 1996

Financing Special Education
Thomas B. Parrish Jay G. Chambers


  1. Moore, M.T., Strang, E.W., Schwartz, M., et al. Patterns in special education service delivery and cost. Washington, DC: Decision Resources Corporation, 1988.
  2. This estimate is based on a projection of $265 billion in current expenditures for K–12 public education for the 1995–96 school year. Gerald, D.E., and Hussar, W.J. Projections of education statistics to 2005. NCES 95–169. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1995. Twelve percent (see note no. 1, Moore, Strang, Schwartz, et al.) of $265 billion is $31.8 billion.
  3. The 65% figure is unusual. The second and third highest percentages of federal aid contributions were 30% in Puerto Rico and 16% in Arkansas.
  4. "Nationally, the bill for all special education services has rocketed from roughly $1 billion in 1977 to more than $30 billion today." Shapiro, J.P., Loeb, P., Bowermaster, D., et al. Separate and unequal: How special education programs are cheating our children and costing taxpayers billions each year. U.S. News and World Report. December 13, 1993, p. 48.
  5. This section borrows heavily from Parrish, T.B., and Verstegen, D.A. Fiscal provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Policy Paper No. 3. Palo Alto, CA: Center for Special Education Finance, American Institutes for Research, 1994.
  6. National Center for Education Statistics. 120 years of American education: A statistical portrait. T.D. Snyder, ed. Washington, DC: NCES, 1993.
  7. Office of Special Education Programs. Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: Seventeenth annual report to Congress. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, 1995.
  8. U.S. Department of Education press release. School enrollments to reach record level: Riley warns against education budget cuts. Washington, DC: Department of Education Internet Home Page (, released August 11, 1995.
  9. Reynolds, M.C., and Lakin, K.C. Noncategorical special education: Models for research and practice. In Learner characteristics and adaptive education. M.C. Wang, M.C. Reynolds, and H.J. Walberg, eds. Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1987, pp. 331–44.
  10. Fiscal survey of the states. Washington, DC: National Governors' Association and National Association of State Budget Officers, 1994.
  11. Baumeister, A.A., Kupstas, F., and Klindworth, L.M. New morbidity: Implications for prevention of children's disabilities. Exceptionality (1990) 1,1:1–16.
  12. Hallahan, D.P. Some thoughts on why the prevalence of learning disabilities has increased. Journal of Learning Disabilities (1992) 25,8:523–28.
  13. Verstegen, D.A. The economic and demographic dimensions of national education policy. In Demographic trends and cultural diversity: Challenges for school finance policy. J.G. Ward and P. Anthony, eds. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1991, pp. 71–96.
  14. Noel, M.M., and Fuller, B.C. The social policy construction of special education: The impact of state characteristics on identification and integration of handicapped children. Remedial and Special Education (1985) 6,3:27–35.
  15. Chasnoff, I.J. Cocaine and pregnancy: Clinical and methodological issues. Clinics in Perinatology (1991) 18,1:113–23.
  16. Chasnoff, I.J., Griffith, D.R., Frieier, C., and Murray, J. Cocaine/polydrug use in pregnancy: Two-year follow-up. Pediatrics (1992) 89:284–89.
  17. Schultz, F.R. Fetal alcohol syndrome. In Mental aspects of developmental disabilities in children birth to three. J.A. Blackman, ed. Rev. ed. Rockville, MD: Aspen, 1984, pp. 109–10.
  18. Diamond, C.W., and Cohen, H.J. AIDS and developmental disabilities. Prevention update. Washington, DC: National Coalition on Prevention of Mental Retardation, 1987.
  19. This section borrows heavily from Parrish, T.B. State funding provisions and least restrictive environment: Implications for federal policy. Brief No. 2. Palo Alto, CA: Center for Special Education Finance, American Institutes for Research, Fall 1993.
  20. Dempsey, S., and Fuchs, D. "Flat" versus "weighted" reimbursement formulas: A longitudinal analysis of statewide special education funding practices. Exceptional Children (1993) 59,5:433–43.
  21. Inclusionary Education for Students with Disabilities. Washington, DC: National Council on Disability, 1995.
  22. This statement is based on notes from a presentation made by Vermont's State Director of Special Education at the State Data Managers' Conference held in March 1993 by the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education.
  23. National Association of State Boards of Education. Winners all: A call for inclusive schools. The report of the NASBE Study Group on Special Education. Alexandria, VA: NASBE, October, 1992.
  24. Shields, P.M., Jay, D.E., Parrish, T., and Padilla, C. Alternative programs and strategies for serving students with learning disabilities and other learning problems. Final report. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International, 1989.
  25. Address given to Florida Futures Conference. Tampa, September 16–17, 1994.
  26. Verstegen, D.A. Consolidated special education funding and services: A federal perspective. Policy Paper No. 6. Palo Alto, CA: Center for Special Education Finance, American Institutes for Research, 1995.
  27. McLaughlin, M.J. Consolidated special education funding and services: A local perspective. Policy Paper No. 5. Palo Alto, CA: Center for Special Education Finance, American Institutes for Research, 1995.
  28. Schnaiberg, L. District seeks to pare $136,000 special education bill. Education Week. September 27, 1995, p. 5.
  29. For a full discussion of the need to remove fiscal incentives for more restrictive placements, see Parrish, T.B. Fiscal issues in special education: Removing incentives for restrictive placements. Policy Paper No. 4. Palo Alto, CA: Center for Special Education Finance, American Institutes for Research, 1994.
  30. For a more thorough description and discussion of this concept, see note no. 5, Parrish and Verstegen.
  31. These states are Massachusetts, Montana, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. South Dakota and North Dakota have also adopted such systems, but they have not yet been implemented.
  32. Montgomery, D.L. Profile of special education finance reform in Vermont. Palo Alto, CA: Center for Special Education Finance, American Institutes for Research, 1995.
  33. See, for example, Council for Exceptional Children. Summary of Administration, House, and Senate IDEA Provisions on Major Issues with CEC Position. Handout from keynote speaker, Nancy Safer, Interim Executive Director, CEC. The International Public Policy Conference sponsored by Council of Administrators of Special Education, Inc. Scottsdale, AZ, November 16, 1995.
  34. Lovitt, T.C. Assessment of children with learning disabilities. Exceptional Children (1967) 34:233–39.
  35. Shepard, L., and Smith, M.L. Evaluation of the identification of perceptual-communicative disorders in Colorado. Boulder, CO: University of Colorado, 1981.
  36. Ysseldyke, J., Algozzine, B., Richey, L., and Graden, J. Declaring students eligible for learning disability services: Why bother with the data? Learning Disability Quarterly (1982) 5:37–44.
  37. This contention is supported by an overall 29.9% increase in the number of children served in the IDEA, Part B, and Chapter 1 Handicapped programs since the inception of 137 Financing Special Education Part B in 1976 through the 1990–91 school year. The 1990–91 school year showed an increase of 2.8%, which is the largest increase in a decade. However, the larger increase in this year is primarily a result of the additional availability of early childhood programs.
  38. Fruchter, N., Berne, R., Marcus, A., et al. Focus on learning: Draft report on reorganizing special education in New York City. New York: Institute for Education and Social Policy, New York University, May 19, 1995.
  39. Chambers, J.G., Parrish, T.B., Goertz, M., et al. Translating dollars into services: Chapter 1 resources in the context of state and local resources for education. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Policy and Planning, April 1993.