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Louisiana Chief Proposes Special Education Funding Changes

John White, the state superintendent of education in Louisiana, proposed major changes today in how the state supports special education students, reports The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge.

White made his pitch to overhaul the funding system in a speech to the Special Education Advisory Panel, which advises the state board of education. Only 29 percent of the state's students in special education are graduating from high school, he told the panel. He also noted that one problem is that state gives the same amount of aid to a district for a student with disabilities without regard to the severity of the disability. From the article:

Under the proposed overhaul, funding would be based on whether a student is placed in one of three categories, which could range from those with speech or language impairments to those with autism.
White said such an approach would recognize that different disabilities require different levels of state aid.
The plan would also base funding on how the child is educated.
In addition, state aid would be based in part on how special education students fare in the classroom, including whether they meet or exceed annual state academic improvement targets.
White repeatedly said that the overhaul, which he said would be phased in, would not have any dramatic impact on overall funding levels.

The state currently provides about $313 million in aid to schools for students with disabilities.

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