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National Study of Special Education Spending: Foundational Phase

Preschool teacher teaching her children about geography. Using globe and asking the questions. Children sitting by the table and listen teacher carefully. Models in this shot are part of real kindergarten group and their teacher.
Providing crucial national data on special education spending across districts and schools
  • Client
    Institute of Education Sciences
  • Dates
    2023 – 2026


Data on the use of federal funding for special education is limited. 

Nearly seven million students with disabilities receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). That equates to about 14 percent of students in K-12 public education. In 2021, the federal government awarded states over $13 billion in IDEA grants to provide special education services. However, it is unclear how states spend IDEA grants in combination with other revenue sources to educate students with disabilities. Federal policymakers need accurate, up-to-date estimates of national special education spending to determine how much funding to appropriate for IDEA services.


NORC is supporting recruitment, rostering, and administration of two surveys to generate up-to-date estimates on special education spending.

Under a subcontract to the American Institutes for Research, NORC is supporting sampling, recruitment, rostering, and data collection activities for two web-based surveys for a pilot study that includes approximately 80 school districts and 400 teachers and administrators. NORC brings essential knowledge and resources to the study, including expertise in collecting data from educators and educational institutions across the country seamlessly and efficiently. 


Findings from the study will help federal policymakers make informed decisions about special education funding. 

Results from the pilot study will provide robust information on how schools and districts use IDEA funding to provide special education services to students with disabilities and will help to inform a proposed larger national study.

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