First, fiscal incentives favoring restrictive and separate placements should be removed. Theoretically, this could be achieved under most types of special education funding systems. Even systems in which funding decisions are based on student categories could develop a weighting structure that would foster greater inclusion by assigning larger weights to an array of higher- and lower-cost general education placements. Thus far, however, the States attempting to reduce the number of restrictive placements have tended to implement funding systems that do not base funding decisions on student placement categories.
Second, States must make decisions about the extent to which they wish to encourage private special education placements. Some States may decide that private, as opposed to public, placements are more restrictive under any circumstances and may wish to create fiscal disincentives for their use. Other States may decide that private placements are an integral component of the continuum of available placements for their special education students and that these types of placements should not be discouraged. Regardless of how they view private placements, it is difficult for States to rationalize fiscal incentives favoring them. In some States, however, these incentives are clearly in place. Comparable public services may not be available in some States simply because districts have never been allowed to use the State aid they are allotted for private tuition to develop public services.
Third, funding systems should be developed in which funds follow students as they move to less restrictive placements. For example, if funds followed children when they returned to neighborhood schools, savings in transportation costs could offset other types of costs associated with this type of move. Districts may have internal mechanisms for resource allocation in place that support places rather than students. As students move from specialized to neighborhood schools, districts will also need to rethink their internal systems for allocating resources.
Fourth, States could enhance fiscal support for district training. States reporting the most success in fostering more inclusive service systems emphasize the need to support direct training for these types of program interventions. As fiscal disincentives favoring restrictive services are removed, district personnel must be provided with training and assistance in overcoming the many practical difficulties associated with the higher levels of inclusion that may result.
Fifth, States could fund and encourage the use of appropriate interventions for all students. Some argue that service option restrictions result in some students who need intervention services being identified as eligible for special education because that is the only way to provide them with intervention services. State funding systems that actively support alternative interventions for all students will be less likely to lead to special education program placements that are unnecessarily restrictive.