We are spending literally tens of millions of dollars on special education annually, yet little progress has been made in returning better test scores or showing an improvement in learning for students receiving special education services. Teachers, we would like to hear your suggestions from the classroom - what could be done to improve the education of our special education students? Parents, we would like to hear input from you regarding what you find works and what doesn't really help your child receiving special education services.
According to the most recent state Salary and Travel report, DCSS employs 1,369 Special Education teachers out of 6,500 total teachers. 21% of our teachers are Special Education teachers. At an average salary and benefits figure of $65,000 (source: Ms. Tyson's budget figure), DCSS spends a mind boggling $90,000,000 annually on personnel cost for Special Education teachers.
DCSS has around 9,000 special education students so this is $10,000 per Special Education student we spend annually in addition to their regular classroom experience and per pupil expenditure.
Looking at the Made AYP status of DCSS, it would appear that the student achievement of Special Education students (see category entitled SWD - Students With Disabilities) is the most critical area that DCSS needs to improve. Not once has DCSS managed to enable this group to make adequate yearly progress. This seems to be an area in which DCSS could really use some progress. Yet here is the report DCSS sent to the U.S. Governmental Accountability office (GAO) regarding an additional $19,669,324 of Stimulus money spent primarily on Students with Disabilities. According to this report submitted September 6, 2010, you would think we are making great progress in this area. However, looking at the percent of Students With Disabilities who "meet or exceed" when tested on the standards (see years below 2003 - 2010), there is no appreciable percentage increase in student achievement.
Monday, September 6, 2010
DeKalb County School System
Decatur, GA 30032
Award amount: $19,669,324
DeKalb County School System reported that it used its Recovery Act IDEA award to increase the achievement of students with disabilities. These funds affected roughly 20 high schools and 20 middle schools. Specifically, the funds were used to retain staff, hire additional board certified behavior analysts to support schools as needed, fund special education paraprofessionals, and hire lead teachers for special education to provide support to elementary schools. The funds were also used to provide professional development, provide personnel to supply ongoing coaching and support to school staff, and purchase equipment. As a result of these funds, officials reported that the district was able to improve the achievement of students with disabilities and provide elementary schools with more time with their existing lead teachers for special education. In addition, they said that the district was able to fund special education paraprofessionals who were previously paid through local dollars. Officials indicated that their Recovery Act IDEA award activities were less than 50 percent completed.
Go to these websites and click on Academic Performance:
(source for approximate number of students in special education in DCSS - click here.)
Many thanks to DeKalb Parent for providing this research.