The types of special education services provided in California

California spends, on average, $12,700 more per year educating our students with disabilities than regular education students. What types of services does that money pay for?

A new report from California’s Office of Legislative Analyst’s sheds light on to the answer to this question. The report, Overview of Special Education in Californiashows that far and away the biggest service provided is specialized academic instruction. Specialized Academic Instruction (SAI) is defined as: “ Adapting, as appropriate to the needs of the child with a disability the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction to ensure access of the child to the general curriculum, so that he or she can meet the educational standards within the jurisdiction of the public agency that apply to all children.” (34 CFR 300.26(b)(3)). Examples of this are one-to-one tutoring, specialized instruction is a separate classroom, or modified assignments. Roughly 550,000 CA students benefit from these services.

The second largest area of services provided is speech and language therapy, with over 300,000 students receiving this type of assistance. Speech and language services are defined as:

i. Identification of children with speech or language impairments;
ii. Diagnosis and appraisal of specific speech and language impairments;
iii. Referral for medical or other professional attention necessary for the habilitation of
speech or language impairments;
iv. Provision of speech and language services for the habilitation or prevention of
communicative impairments; and
v. Counseling and guidance of parents, children, and teachers regarding speech and
language impairments. (34 C.F.R. 300.24 [14].

No other provided service reaches the 100,000 mark in terms of students receiving that service. On the list of lesser provided services, in order from highest to lowest, are occupational therapy, college awareness, career awareness, adapted physical education, vocational assessment, behavior treatment services, and individual therapy.

The report also notes that at the age of 16, children begin to receive assistance in order to ease their transition into adulthood. School districts are required to develop IEP services to  aid students in this difficult transition. Types of services that are provided include vocational and career readiness activities, college counseling, and training in independent living skills.