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District Survey
PDF File IconGeneral Information - Part I (39 KB)
This part of the district/IEU questionnaire requests general background and enrollment information for the sample districts. Most of these variables will be used to classify districts into various categories with regard to size and the composition of student populations with respect to certain special need characteristics (e.g., race-ethnicity, poverty, and English proficiency).

PDF File IconSpecial Education Program - Part II (158 KB)
This part of the district/IEU questionnaire is the centerpiece for collecting information on the special education program. It is comprised of eleven separate sections.

  • SECTION 1. Service Arrangements in Special Education. This section gathers information on the extent to which the sample districts are involved in cooperative or consortium arrangements or intermediate educational units with other districts as well as with non-public and state special education schools. These arrangements are important for understanding how students are counted, and by whom, for the purposes of funding. It will also help us to understand how to make adjustments to our weights for the purposes of developing nationally representative estimates.
  • SECTION 2. Special Education Enrollments. This section provides an overview of the enrollment patterns by disability and by internal versus external placement. These data will provide a benchmark against which to compare the total expenditure figures as well as some information about the composition of enrollments. These data will also be used in combination with the data in section 1 to ensure proper weighting of the other information we collect. SECTIONS 3 THROUGH 8. Sections 3 through 8 provide a comprehensive picture of total spending on special education in the district. Each of these collects information on FTEs and expenditures on district employees, private contractors, and non-personnel resources devoted to special education. Each section is devoted to a specific component of the program.
  • SECTION 3. Central Office Administration and Support for Special Education. This section focuses on the administration and support that occur in the central office of the school district.
  • SECTION 4. Preschool Special Education Services in Your District. This includes the numbers of students served and expenditures for the direct instructional and related services for preschool programs. These programs include those operated by the district, those for which the district only provides some portion of the resources, and programs for which the district pays tuition to external agencies (public or private) for services.
  • SECTION 5. Homebound and Hospital Programs. This section gathers data about the number of students served and about expenditures for direct instructional and related services for programs offered to students who are homebound or hospitalized because of chronic illness. It covers programs paid through tuition to other agencies and programs operated by district employees.
  • SECTION 6. External Special Education Placements. This section collects data on the tuition, fees, or transfers of funds for all other special education students served in non-public or public agencies.
  • SECTION 7. School Site Special Education Services. This section collects data on the direct instructional and related services provided to special education students served in all of the public schools within the sample district. It does not break expenditures down by type of student (e.g., disability or need) or type of service.
  • SECTION 8. Summer School Services for Special Education Students. This section collects data on special education expenditures for extended year services necessary to provide education to students with disabilities. It includes direct instructional and related services as well as the administration and support of the summer school programs.
  • SECTION 9. Federal Funds in Special Education. This section will provide us with some information about how federal funding from IDEA is used to support special education. It asks for an object-level breakdown, which is the easiest and most likely way in which districts will be able to lay out their federal funding budgets. In addition, it asks for spending by various types of activities (e.g., technical assistance, professional development, and direct services). This will be more difficult to collect since each district may use somewhat different means and categories to organize these data. Finally, we will also ask about the extent to which districts have taken advantage of funding available from Medicaid for certain specific types of services to students with disabilities.
  • SECTION 10. Student Eligibility and Pre-referral Activities in Special Education. This section collects limited information on the presence of pre-referral activities and the number of students identified as eligible for special education services. Some of these data will serve as denominators for expenditures (e.g., on psychologists) devoted to assessment and identification of students. It will also provide us with information on the extent to which activities are taken up by ongoing assessments and evaluation, versus identification of newly identified students. These data will be used in conjunction with information from the central office staff questionnaires and the data from individual teachers to provide estimates of amounts spent on various assessment, evaluation, and identification activities. Pre-referral activities will provide us with information on the extent to which districts are making use of preventative strategies to keep identification rates down.
  • SECTION 11. Complaints, Mediation, Due Process, and Litigation in Special Education. There has been considerable interest in recent years in the costs of mediation, due process and litigation in special education. This section will attempt to collect some data on this issue to determine the levels of spending and activity in this arena. In addition, there is interest in looking at the tradeoff between mediation and litigation. These data will be combined with information from the central office staff questionnaire and Section 3 of Part II of the district questionnaire to assess the total expenditures. The data in this section will provide information on the denominator for these expenditures.

PDF File IconFiscal Information - Part III (97 KB)
This part of the district questionnaire is devoted to collecting two basic types of information: general information on sources of funding and specific payroll information for the sample schools. It is broken out into four sections and two additional attachments.

  • SECTION 1. General Fiscal Information. This section collects total revenue for two different years by source: 1998-99 and 1999-2000. We collect relatively detailed information on the special education funding from the state and federal levels, as well as general information on other major program areas (e.g., Title I and general state aid). These data provide contextual information for school districts and can be used as a benchmark against which we will compare special education spending. That is, we can determine how much the districts spend on special education relative to federal and state revenues directed at special education, as well as total spending. We also want to collect some information on how spending is used for other general administrative and support services (excluding special education). Such data will be used to make comparisons of general education versus special education spending. These data will be used specifically in connection with data from the school and student level when making overall comparisons between what it costs to educate a general education student versus a special education student.
  • SECTIONS 2 & 3. Health and Welfare Benefits/Payroll taxes. These parts of the questionnaire will be used to estimate the contributions by the district to different classes of employees for employee benefits and payroll taxes. These will be used in the case (which is highly likely) that the district is unable to provide benefit information on individual employees through the payroll system.
  • SECTION 4. Definition of a full-time employee. These data will be used in conjunction with the data collected through the payroll system (Attachment A) and the data collected through the school to estimate FTEs and costs.
  • ATTACHMENT A - Request for payroll information. These data, requested for the sample schools, will form a foundation for the more detailed analyses planned for comparing the expenditures on general and special education. The payroll system provides not only information on average compensation, but also various account code data associated with individual employees that helps us determine who does what and time spent in various programs (Title I, special versus general education, etc.). These data will be used in conjunction with data collected on individual employees at the school level to determine how funds are spent on various services and for various categories of students.
  • ATTACHMENT B - Request for non-personnel budgets. These data are extremely difficult to obtain in a consistent form from school districts. There are a variety of ways in which these data are recorded by districts in terms of objects of expenditure and locational identifiers (i.e., school versus district); some districts record certain objects by school site and some consolidate at the central office. We will attempt to obtain information by school site when available, and to estimate it from various sources available from the district.

PDF File IconTransportation Services - Part IV (41 KB)
This questionnaire asks for data on expenditures and services related to home-to-school transportation services provided by local school districts. We have taken two approaches in this questionnaire. We have asked for direct information about special versus general education spending on transportation services, as well as information about the parameters that help local district decision makers decide how to allocate spending among various transportation service components. We are interested in both the expenditures for general education transportation as well as the incremental costs of transportation for students with disabilities. The information on bus fuel, transportation personnel wages (e.g., bus drivers), and density of student population will be used to conduct econometric analysis where adequate detail about spending breakdowns is not available.

PDF File IconCentral Office Staff Questionnaire (58 KB)
This questionnaire is designed primarily to collect information about how certain categories of central office staff allocate their time. We have asked them to break down their time among various general administrative activities as well as specific support activities such as mediation, litigation, assessment, evaluation, and pre-referral activities. These data will be used to break down spending on certain staff who show up in Section 3 (central administration and support of special education) of Part II of the district questionnaire among these various activities. Certain basic employment information and background information will be useful in breaking these statistics out for various categories of staff, and in determining the quality of services being provided by districts.

PDF File IconInformation About a Special Education Student With an External Placement (74 KB)
This questionnaire is a simplified version of the Information About A Special Education Student form that is given to district employees. For those students with an external placement, the student background and abilities sections are essentially the same as described above. The difference is that these students are served in non-public schools, or public schools not operated by the local school district that counts them for the purposes of funding. The district pays a tuition and/or provides funds for transportation services for these students. A random sample of up to six students with external placements will be selected within each district, and the director of special education, or his or her designated representative, will be asked to provide tuition and funding information along with background and abilities information for these students.


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