Examining Costs: The Center for Special Education Finance is taking a fresh look at the "real costs" of such services.
The 7-year-old CSEF, based in Palo Alto, Calif., received a five-year, $4.2 million grant for such a study from the U.S. Depart-ment of Education this year.
In recent years, the CSEF has asserted that there is a lack of accurate data on the overall costs of special education. The Education Department withdrew its requirement that states report their expenditures after the 1985-86 school year because the information reported was often inaccurate.
But with the rising costs and enrollments associated with special education, the CSEF researchers believe such data are needed to accurately study issues in the field. For that reason, CSEF officials say they plan to work with states and survey at least 250 randomly selected districts to determine recent expenditures. The effort, which began this summer, will take at least 18 months to complete.
Assessment Aid: The National Center on Educational Outcomes--based at the University of Minnesota--is using an online survey to gauge the progress of efforts to meet a federal deadline for establishing state systems of alternative assessments for severely disabled students.
Under the 1997 amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, states must have systems in place by July 1 of next year to administer alternative assessments to disabled students who are unable to participate in regular state and local tests.
The NCEO's World Wide Web site is designed to help state education officials learn how their colleagues are proceeding. States answer questions on specific details of content, eligibility, scoring, and other aspects of the alternative tests and are able to review the responses of other states.
According to the NCEO's most recent report, "Status of the States in the Development of Alternate Assessments," released in July, 30 states were working to identify curriculum or content standards for the assessments. At the same time, 32 states were drafting eligibility guidelines to help educators determine which students should be given the tests, and 27 states were setting up systems to collect data from their assessments.
The report is posted online at www.coled.umn.edu/nceo. (Read the synthesis report, "Status of the States in the Development of Alternate Assessments.") Copies may also be ordered for $10 each from the Publications Office, NCEO, University of Minnesota, 350 Elliott Hall, 75 E. River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55455, or by calling (612) 624-8561.
--Joetta L. Sack [email protected]
Vol. 19, Issue 3, Page 7