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Characteristics of Special Education Local Plan Areas (SELPAs) in California

Region:
West
Abstract:

Description: Since 1977, all public school districts in California have been required to join or form a consortium called a Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) to administer services for students with disabilities and ensure the provisions of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The number of single-district SELPAs has recently increased because the California Department of Education (CDE) has received an increasing number of requests from school districts (primarily larger ones) to leave their current multi-district SELPA and become a single-district SELPA.

This study will provide California's State Board of Education (SBE) with information about characteristics among single- versus multi-district SELPAs, including placement rates and outcomes for special education students. It will also examine the characteristics and student outcomes among SELPAs with a consistent membership across time versus ones that were reconfigured. The findings from this study will be used by SBE in its consideration of how to formalize criteria for the creation of any single-district SELPAs in the future. The results of this study will inform future studies that evaluate CDE's mechanisms for allocating federal and state special education funds to districts.

Research Questions:

  1. How do district characteristics, funding for and costs of providing services to special education students with IEPs, and outcomes for students with IEPs differ between single-district, multi-district SELPAs, and charter-only SELPAs?
  2. How do district characteristics, funding for and costs of providing services to special education students, and outcomes for special need students differ between original single-district SELPAs and new single-district SELPAs?
  3. How do district characteristics, funding for and costs of providing services to special education students, and outcomes for special need students differ between original multi-district and new or reconstituted multi-district SELPAs?

Study Design: The study will examine outcomes for all 140 SELPAs in the state and use data from the 2016/17 school year, which is the most recent year with the a complete set of data available. The research team will consolidate and aggregate the district-level data to make comparisons on the outcomes of interest between different types of SELPAs.

Projected Release Data: Spring 2021

Study Related Products: Just in Time report

Principal Investigators & Affiliation:

John Rice, REL West