Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Committee Chair

Sara Newell


Since the passing of Public Law 94-142 in 1975, federal funding for special education programming has been distributed based on a flat or fixed per-student allotment. Flat funding distribution is a set dollar amount per child, while a fixed distribution is a set amount provided to every state regardless of population. In addition to federal funding, each state must allocate state tax dollars to the local education agencies (LEAs) according to the allocation model. Currently, there are four popular models of special education funding used across the United States, including flat or fixed rate per-student allotment, weighted funding, a census-based model, and a cost-based reimbursement system. This study sought to demonstrate the most effective model for state distribution of special education funding by establishing the greatest gains in the academic achievement gap and yielding the highest graduation rates for those students identified with disabilities who are served by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) programs. Findings of this study revealed that there was no significance between the state special education funding formula and the mathematic proficiency rates, reading proficiency rates, or graduation rates of special education students. However, themes unveiled during the qualitative portion of the study support future research of funding formula impacts.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License