California Special Education Study Released – Big Changes Needed

A major report on the state of Special Education in California finds that big changes are needed.  California has one of the worst rates of inclusion in the US – in the bottom 3 of the 50 states using data from the US Department of Education.

Some selected findings

  • For students with an IEP, including students identified in each disability category,
    greater participation in a general education setting is a strong predictor of
    academic growth and improved outcomes as measured by statewide
    assessments (i.e., the CAASPP and the CAA).
  • Although California requires SELPA community advisory committees (CACs) to
    support LCAP parent advisory committees as a way of ensuring that parents of
    students with an IEP are represented in the LCAP process, CACs have relatively
    little access to and provide relatively little input on LEAs’ general education
  • For the years studied, California as a state had among the country’s lowest rates
    for including students with an IEP in general education for at least 80 percent of
    the school day and had among the highest rates for including these students less
    than 40 percent of the school day.
  • Subgranting and distributing IDEA funds to SELPAs and allowing multi-LEA
    SELPAs, in turn, to subgrant funds to their member LEAs does not promote
    transparency and may be inconsistent with federal policy guidance.

Selected Recommendations

  • Recommendation 2. Provide each LEA with the sole decision-making authority,
    autonomy, and necessary resources for entering into and exiting from
    agreements with other LEAs, either individually or as consortia, and other types
    of agencies (e.g., COEs, SELPAs, nonpublic agencies) to offer a flexible
    continuum of services to meet the variable needs of its students with an IEP..
  • Recommendation 4. Increase transparency and alignment of the state’s general
    and special education accountability, monitoring, and technical assistance
    structures. Amplify the voices of special education stakeholders, including
    families, in all governance and accountability structures

  • Recommendation 5. Increase state communication and guidance to LEAs,
    communities, and families about the state’s special education priorities and
    available resources for increasing the provision of special education services in
    general education settings and improving academic and functional outcomes for
    students with an IEP.

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