California’s Special Education Local Plan Areas: Funding Patterns, Inclusion Rates, and Student Outcomes
Many states employ regional or intermediary agencies in their special education systems. California requires each school district to belong to a Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) for special education planning and governance. The California Department of Education (CDE) and the State Board of Education (SBE) are interested in the impact on the surrounding small and midsized districts when large districts become single-district SELPAs.
In this study, REL West researchers used publicly available data to examine the association between different SELPA types and district configurations and outcomes, including SELPA funding patterns, inclusion rates of students receiving special education services in the general education environment, and academic outcomes for students receiving special education services.
The findings provide mixed evidence for the possible implications of large districts leaving multidistrict SELPAs to form single-district SELPAs. The study found no meaningful association between different SELPA and district configurations and academic outcomes for students with disabilities—including graduation and dropout rates—and proficiency rates in math and English language arts and on the alternative assessment.
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