District of Columbia Special Education: Linking Financing to Outcomes

Client: Washington, D.C.’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education
Faculty: George Sweeting
Team: Chavon Edwards, Brian Footer, Chris Glorioso, Kristin Maidt, Milo Sybrant
Year: 2013

The Division of Special Education (DSE) in Washington, D.C.’s Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE) oversees special education within the D.C. Public Schools and Public Charter Schools. In 2011, D.C. adopted the Funding for Public Schools and Public Charter Schools Amendment Act, emphasizing transparency in special education spending. Concurrently, Mayor Vincent Gray introduced a new funding incentive focused on increasing special education programming, with a requirement for schools to report more detailed expenditures than in prior years. The DSE enlisted the Capstone team to examine how the funding incentive affected expenditures and special education student performance. The team compiled and analyzed special education Maintenance of Effort reports and No Child Left Behind student-level performance data to determine if reporting requirements were met, and to explore correlations between expenditures and student performance. Additionally, the team provided recommendations on data collection and performance measurement strategies that will allow OSSE to better determine causal relationships in the future.