January 1995

Legislative Analyst's Office

Special Education Is the Largest Categorical Program

This program provides specialized instruction and services for children under the age of 23 with disabilities.

Each child receives a mix of services based on an assessment of his or her unique needs. The services to be provided are described in an individual educational program (IEP) written for the child. The aim is to serve the child in the least restrictive educational setting (environment). Parents are required to participate in the placement process. There are specific due process procedures to protect the rights of the child and parents in the process.

Generally, services are provided in one of several types of programs.

Program Placements Related to Disability

As shown below, program placements and services are related to disability. For example:

Growth Rates Vary by Disability and Placement

The disability categories showing the most growth since 1987-88 are orthopedically impaired and seriously emotionally disturbed. Growth of the overall student population in California averaged 2.7 percent annually during this same time period.

The placements showing the most growth are resource specialist programs and nonpublic schools.


Around Half of Public School Staff Are Teachers

In total, around 58 percent of staff hold credentials. The largest group is teachers (51 percent). Another 7 percent of staff have other types of credentials (administrators, psychologists, etc.). "Classified" (non-credentialed) staff represent 42 percent of staff and include maintenance workers, teacher aides, and clerical staff.

The next chart shows staff and funding for a hypothetical California school. The average school employs 52 staff, including 28 teachers. In addition, on average, three staff are employed at the district, county or state level for each school.

School site costs account for 94 percent of school funding. These include teachers (52 percent); other classroom costs (13 percent); and other school site costs, such as maintenance, transportation and administration (30 percent).

Teacher Salaries and Pupil-Teacher Ratios Both Higher Than National Averages

California's average teacher salary is higher than the national average. California's pupil-teacher ratio is also higher than the national average.

Teachers Are Predominantly White

Hispanic teachers account for 8 percent of teachers statewide, while Hispanic pupils represent 37 percent of pupils. The proportions of African-American and Asian teachers are also lower than the comparable proportions of pupils.

The state has an opportunity to develop a more ethnically diverse teaching staff over the next five to ten years as a large group of current teachers reach retirement age.


California Scores Lower Than Comparison States and National Average

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) measures achievement at school. California's fourth grade scores in 1992 are lower than four states with similar population characteristics and the national average.

Data for subgroups of students suggests a very divided fourth grade population. The higher-performing students--who come from more advantaged neighborhoods--do about as well as similar students in comparison states. Low- performing students, on the other hand, score considerably lower than low- performing students in comparison states.

SAT Scores Relatively Good, But Dropout Rates High

The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is designed to provide a common measure of student aptitude for college. California's score in 1990 was virtually the same as the national average, and higher than three of the four comparison states.

Dropout rates for California and two of the four comparison states exceeded 14 percent in 1990. These rates represent the percentage of youth ages 16 through 19 who are not in school and do not have a high school diploma.

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