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California: SPED costs KEEP GOING UP; because of "high-cost conditions like autism"

July 29, 2021, Ed Source: Special education funding should be more streamlined, report finds

To improve accountability and transparency in California’s special education system, funding should bypass local cost-sharing consortiums and go directly to school districts, according to a new report released Thursday. The report, compiled by researchers at the nonpartisan consulting firm West Ed, is the second of a two-part study of ways to improve funding for California’s 725,000 students with disabilities in K-12 public schools. Funded by private foundations, the report will be presented to the governor, Legislature and other state officials. “What we’ve seen is that costs keep going up, but we’re not seeing a substantial enough change in outcomes. We’re not closing the gap,” said Sara Doutre, senior program associate for West Ed, referring to the differences in academic achievement between students in special education and those who aren’t…. In California, money for special education is funneled through Special Education Local Plan Areas, which can encompass numerous school districts. The idea is for districts to share costs and resources related to special education, particularly for students with high needs. The SELPA system isn’t perfect, but it’s not in need of a radical overhaul, said Anjanette Pelletier, SELPA director for San Mateo County and chair of the Coalition for Adequate Funding for Special Education. The bigger issue, she said, is the amount of money California spends on students with special needs. Even with the state’s $656 million boost in special education funding this year, schools and districts are still scrambling to cover the costs of speech therapy, tutors, physical therapy, technology, equipment and other special ed services…. The reason outcomes haven’t improved, she said, is because California has seen a steady increase in the number of students with high-cost conditions like autism. In 2018-19, California schools had roughly 114,000 students with autism, almost three times the number it had in 2008-09, according to the California Department of Education. In light of that, the West Ed researchers suggested California follow the lead of Massachusetts and other states by distributing funds not based on students’ attendance, but based on students’ needs. For example, schools would get more money for high-needs students, such as those with orthopedic impairments, and less money for students with conditions that are relatively inexpensive to address, such as speech impairments…. “What strikes me is the call for differential funding among the different needs of students with disabilities. This seems to echo the research about ensuring students with the greatest need get additional funding,” he said. “Funding for students with disabilities in California public education has not been looked at with this depth of investigation in over twenty years. It’s long overdue.” July 29, 2021, (UK) Reading Chronicle: Ofsted and CQC inspectors find special needs improvement S. England Care for children and young people with special education needs or disabilities (SEND) in Reading is improving, although issues remain, according to inspectors. An Ofsted and Care Quality Commission SEND inspection took place from June 21-25. The report found leaders across the area have worked together to improve the support children receive and address areas of weakness. But concerns remain over wait times for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) assessments…. Concern over waiting times However, inspectors said there is more to do, “most notably to reduce the long waiting times some children must endure while waiting for an assessment for ASD or ADHD”. Some children have been waiting over two years for an ASD appointment or over three years for an ADHD appointment….

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