Several states and the federal government distribute aid for special education programs based primarily on total district enrollment and a fixed aid amount per student, a method called census funding. In this policy brief, we address three questions to help policy makers, educators, and researchers better understand census-funding models and special education finance policies in general. The first question is, what are the key advantages and disadvantages of census-funding models? The second and third questions relate to aspects of policy implementation, in the event a state legislature should choose to adopt the approach. First, we examine what options are available to mitigate concerns about the equity of funding under a census funding model. Second, we examine what other options exist for helping states and districts to contain special education costs while maintaining a high level of quality.

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