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  • Updating How Connecticut Counts Low-income Students

    This one-pager concerns challenges with continuing to use eligibility for free and reduced price lunch (FRPL) as a proxy for counting low-income students as part of Connecticut's Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula. Additionally, this one-pager explains using direct certification as a replacement for FRPL for the purposes of the ECS formula.

  • Mismatch Between Funding & Student Needs in Connecticut

    Originally released in 2015 and then updated in November 2018, this policy briefing examines the mismatch between public school funding and the learning needs of Connecticut students. The policy briefing finds that the mismatch is the result of several contributing factors and Connecticut’s overall school finance system. While the Connecticut General Assembly took significant steps toward fixing the ECS formula during the 2017 legislative special session, work still needs to be done to ensure all students, regardless of need, receive equitable funding and have the same opportunities to succeed in Connecticut’s public schools.

  • Analysis of Governor Malloy's Special Education Funding Proposal

    Governor Dannel Malloy’s budget proposal for the FY 2018–2019 biennium disentangles special education funding from the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grant by reducing the ECS foundation amount by 22 percent, which is equal to the total amount of the ECS grant that Connecticut currently reports to the U.S. Department of Education is attributable to special education. The Connecticut School Finance Project has prepared an independent analysis examining these proposed changes and how they align with six key principles and practices all special education finance systems should follow, based on a comprehensive 50-state survey examining state special education finance models.

  • HUSKY A Compared to FRPL as a Proxy for Low-income Students

    In his budget proposal released on February 8, Governor Dannel Malloy included several changes to Connecticut's school finance system. Among the changes was a proposal to change the metric used to represent low-income students in the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula from eligibility for free and reduced price lunch (FRPL) to participation in HUSKY A (Connecticut’s children’s Medicaid program). To better understand what this proposed change would mean for school districts and their students, the Connecticut School Finance Project has put together a brief analysis comparing FRPL and HUSKY A as metrics for low-income students in a school funding formula.

  • An Answer to Connecticut's Special Education Funding Challenges

    In this report, we provide an overview of the challenges Connecticut currently faces in funding special education and detail a new model for equitably distributing state and local funds to support special education. This model, called the Special Education Predictable Cost Cooperative (the Co-op), meets identified best practices for statewide special education finance systems and helps address the challenges Connecticut is currently facing in funding special education services. The Co-op allows state and local governments to share in the cost of funding special education through a cooperative model that uses actuarial principles to increase stability and predictability in special education funding for school districts while ensuring decisions in service delivery remain local. The Co-op aggregates special education costs together at the state level to leverage the fact that, on a statewide basis, special education costs are predictable, even though they are frequently volatile at the district level. Aggregating these costs together creates greater predictability in special education costs for districts and municipalities.

  • Special Education Predictable Cost Cooperative: a solution for funding special education in Connecticut (INFOGRAPHIC)

    This infographic from the Connecticut School Finance Project details a solution to Connecticut’s special education funding challenges, the development and implementation of a Special Education Predictable Cost Cooperative (the Co-op). The Co-op is a special education finance system that allows the state and local governments to share in special education costs and keep decisions and delivery of special education services local. The Co-op's purpose is not to either raise or lower a district's special education costs. Rather, the purpose of the Co-op is to make districts' special education costs more predictable.

  • Achieving a Better Proxy for Low-Income Students in Connecticut

    Connecticut currently identifies low-income students based on students’ eligibility for the USDA’s National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. Connecticut students who are eligible for these programs are generally referred to as being eligible for free and reduced price lunch, or “FRPL.” Despite the simplicity of using FRPL-eligibility to identify low-income students, researchers warn FRPL-eligibility may be an inaccurate proxy for low-income students, and instead, they suggest low-income students be identified using multiple income-verified measures. The need for a more accurate, verifiable proxy for low-income students is particularly important given the increase of schools and districts qualifying and participating in Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) of the federal Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. Since its introduction, CEP participation rates in Connecticut have increased annually and are likely to continue increasing as more and more eligible schools and districts adopt the program.

  • Memorandum Regarding Maintenance of Effort and Support Requirements Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) of 2004

    In 2004, the U.S. Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, which was a reauthorization of the 1975 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). There are three primary financial principles that frame the requirements states and districts must follow under IDEA. These are known as “supplement not supplant,” “maintenance of support,” and “maintenance of effort.” Although these three principles are distinct, they are also interrelated. This memorandum defines these terms and describes how they interact to define how states allocate funding for special education. A description of Connecticut’s practices in maintaining adherence to federal guidelines is also featured in the memorandum.

  • Improving How Connecticut Funds Special Education

    Each day, more than 68,700 of the students who pass through the doors of Connecticut’s public schools require special education services, making up 13 percent of the state's total public school enrollment. The individual learning needs of these students are wide-ranging and unique. As a result of these wide-ranging needs, the resources required to provide students with a “free appropriate public education” vary significantly, and often pose difficult planning and financial questions to Connecticut’s public schools. The report examines the special education finance systems of all 50 states and finds Connecticut is one of only four states in the country that does not have a system for funding all special education students.

  • Special Education Versus Non-Special Education Expenditures in Connecticut

    The Connecticut School Finance Project has compiled a series of visualizations detailing the relationship between special education expenditures and non-special expenditures over the past five years at the state and district levels.