Organizing Schools to Serve Students with Disabilities
More than 725,000 of California’s K-12 students qualified for special education services in 2018-19, but they entered a system that is often ill-equipped to serve them. This brief summarizes the findings from the PACE Policy Research Panel on Special Education: Organizing Schools to Serve Students with Disabilities in California. We find opportunities for improvement in early screening, identification, and intervention; transitions into and out of special education services; educator preparation and ongoing support; and availability of mental and physical health services. Comprehensive implementation of the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework in schools would address the needs of all students, including students with disabilities (SWDs). However, doing so successfully will require additional resources to assist teachers with student progress monitoring and instructional assistance. Policy can equip schools to better serve SWDs by developing educator capacity, systematizing data on services and outcomes for SWDs, and fostering interagency collaboration.