Federal Funding for Students with Disabilities

In Federal Funding for Students with Disabilities: The Evolution of Federal Special Education Finance in the U.S., New America provides a history of special education financing in the U.S., and highlights the latest shift in the mission of the IDEA funding formula: a change from providing dollars directly based on the number of special education students, to ensuring the federal government provides sufficient resources for those students without encouraging the over-identification of children as requiring special education–mainly by cutting out financial incentives to do so. The report describes in detail the twists and turns of the decade-old federal IDEA formula still in use today, including several politically driven provisions that distort IDEA allocations on behalf of some states at the cost of funding for children in other states.