Issues related to special education finance have gained considerable importance over the past few years. The continued growth in the number of children with disabilities and the cost of providing special education programs have focused increased attention on how resource constraints affect the quality of services provided. One of the primary objectives of the Center for Special Education Finance (CSEF) is to provide policy makers and administrators at the Federal, State, and local levels with data, analyses, expertise, and opportunities to share information about special education finance issues.1
CSEF is guided by one overarching policy question that places a broad range of questions pertaining to special education finance into a single conceptual framework and set of activities:
How can the quality of educational services be maximized for students with special educational needs within the context of limited resources?
The CSEF research agenda focuses primarily on issues related to special education resource allocation. However, funding issues cannot be isolated from issues related to program design and measuring program results and quality. Decision makers at each level of government must ultimately decide how best to allocate limited resources to produce the desired results. A major CSEF objective is to provide information that can facilitate that process.
This chapter summarizes some of CSEF's research during its first two years of operation (FY 1993 and FY 1994). Separate sections focus on: