Evaluating the Budgetary Impact of Special Education Reform on New York City Schools

Client: New York City Department of Education, Division of Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners
Faculty: Charles Brecher, George Sweeting
Team: Vanessa De La Ossa, Maelle Fonteneau, Katie Hansen, Kelly Hoppe, Christina Parisi, Nkosilathi Vuma
Year: 2012
The NYC Department of Education is implementing a special education reform focusing on how schools serve students with disabilities. This reform changes how special education programs are funded and the ways schools are required to design their special education programs. Currently, the reform is underway in 260 schools. In September 2012, the reform will be scaled up to all NYC public schools. This Capstone project’s goal was to work with schools and central management to develop, implement, and evaluate metrics to quantify schools’ operational capacity to implement their special education programs effectively under the reform. The team gathered budgetary and operational data, which was analyzed to provide a picture of schools’ special education resources. Quantitative analysis was supplemented by school visits in which team members interviewed administrators about their special education program designs, their strategies for implementing the reform, and the outcomes they had experienced or anticipated. Synthesis of this data informed a series of metrics measuring schools’ readiness to undertake the reform for the 2012-2013 school year.