January 3, 2013 - Special education is the catch-all term that encompasses the specialized services that schools provide for disabled students. Developing a more thorough understanding of how California’s disabled students are served is the first step towards improving their educational outcomes. Toward this end, our primer is intended to provide the Legislature and public with an overview of special education in California—conveying information on special education laws, affected students, services, funding, and academic outcomes.
Also, see our 2016 animated video series Overview of Special Education in California.
February 27, 2018 - This post traces the history of state special education funding in California to better inform conversations about how this funding might be allocated going forward.
February 28, 2018 - Presented to Senate Committee on Education;Assembly Committee on Education;Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee No. 1 on Education; and Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 2 on Education Finance
September 21, 2016 - California opened its first school for the deaf in 1860, long before it established most other forms of special education. Today, we estimate California spends more than $400 million a year to educate approximately 14,000 students who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHH). On a per–student basis, California spends substantially more to educate DHH students than other groups of children, including students with various other disabilities. Despite California’s long experience with and relatively large expenditures on DHH students, these students continue to lag far behind their hearing peers on statewide assessments of reading and math. In this report, we undertake a comprehensive review of DHH education in California. We begin by describing the state’s current approach to DHH education, then identify several major shortcomings with this approach, and conclude by making recommendations to address the shortcomings.
September 30, 1998 - as Submitted by American Institutes for Research
April 25, 2019 - Presented to Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee Subcommittee No. 1 on Education
February 21, 2013 - The Governor's 2013-14 budget provides $56.2 billion in total Proposition 98 funding--a $2.7 billion (5 percent) increase from the revised current-year level. The Governor dedicates new monies to paying down school and community college deferrals, transitioning to a new K-12 funding formula, restructuring adult education, funding Proposition 39 energy projects for schools and community colleges, and adding two mandates to the schools mandates block grant. The Governor also proposes various changes and consolidations relating to special education funding. Though we think the Governor's basic approach of dedicating roughly half of new funding to paying down existing obligations and the other half to building up base support is reasonable, we have concerns with many of his specific Proposition 98 proposals. In the areas of adult education, Proposition 39 energy projects, mandates, and special education, we provide alternatives for the Legislature 's consideration. Our assessment of an alternative to the Governor's Proposition 39 proposal can be found both in the Proposition 98 report and in a standalone budget brief--2013-14 Budget: Analysis of Governor's Proposition 39 Proposal.
May 7, 2015 - Presented to Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee No. 1 on Education
May 5, 2015 - Presented to Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 2 on Education Finance
January 21, 2020 - In this report, we examine district budgets—both looking back at actual experiences to date and looking ahead at what experiences could be over the next few years. First, we provide background on districts and their budgets. We then discuss trends in districts’ main cost drivers. Next, we examine overall district fiscal health, with a particular focus on districts in fiscal distress. In the final section, we identify some ways the Legislature could help school districts address their cost pressures moving forward.
December 1, 1986 - This report is submitted pursuant to the "sunset" review procedures enacted by Chapter 1270, Statutes of 1983 (Senate Bill 1155). Chapter I of this report provides background information on the special education program. Chapter II contains our comments on the findings made by the State Department of Education (SDE) in its sunset review report. Chapter III presents our response to the recommendations made by the SDE. Finally, Chapter IV summarizes all of our recommendations regarding the special education program.
February 20, 2008 - Analysis of the 2008-09 Budget Bill, Education Chapter
January 26, 2012 - The 1992 legislation that authorized charter schools in California created a funding model intended to provide charter schools with the same per-pupil operational funding as received by other schools in the same school district. The state subsequently modified this policy in 1998, enacting legislation specifying that “charter school operational funding shall be equal to the total funding that would be available to a similar school district serving a similar pupil population.” This policy remains in place. In this report, we assess whether operational funding received by charter schools and their school district peers is comparable. We (1) describe the funding models used for charter schools and school districts, (2) compare funding rates for the two groups, and (3) provide recommendations to simplify the funding system, maximize flexibility for both school types, and equalize funding rates for charter schools under the current funding system or under a fundamentally restructured system.
January 1, 1995 - In February 1994 the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) in its Analysis of the 1994-95 Budget Bill cited a number of major problems with the state's current special education funding formula. Among the major shortfalls cited were (1) unjustified funding variations among local education agencies (LEAs), (2) unnecessary complexity, (3) constraints on local innovation and response to changing requirements, and (4) inappropriate fiscal incentives. Based on this analysis, the Legislature adopted language in the Supplemental Report of the 1994 Budget Act directing the State Department of Education (SDE), the Department of Finance, and the LAO to jointly review the Master Plan for Special Education (MPSE) and propose a new funding model by May 31, 1995.
January 1, 2000 - We recommend various modifications to the method and level of funding for K-12 special education facilities. These include establishing a uniform facility grant for all pupils, establishing a separate facility grant for county offices of education in recognition of the special education pupils served at county facilities, and requiring county offices of education to provide local matching funds except in financial hardship cases.
February 20, 2002 - Analysis of the 2002-03 Budget Bill, Education Chapter