Study of Individualized Education Program Process and the Adequate Funding Level for Students with Disabilities in Maryland

General Information

The State of Maryland issued a request for proposal to obtain a study on the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process and special education funding adequacy in Maryland. WestEd, a research, service, and development agency is contracted to conduct the study.

Legal Authority:

The Maryland General Assembly enacted Chapter 715, Acts of 2017 (House Bill 1240, 2017 Legislative Session), as amended by Chapter 361 Acts of 2018 (House Bill 1415, 2018 Legislative Session), requiring MSDE to contract with a public or private entity for the purposes of conducting a comprehensive, independent study of the IEP process in the State of Maryland, including the procedures relating to the identification, evaluation, and educational placement of a child, the provision of a free and appropriate education, and the dispute resolution procedures provided under § 8–413 of the Education Article. Additionally, the study must include a review of the methodology to estimate the cost of providing an adequate education to students with disabilities in special education used by top performing counties and other states. The study must also result in a recommendation regarding the appropriate level of funding for Special Education students in Maryland and any weights that may correspond to the recommended funding level. MSDE is required to report the findings to the Governor and the General Assembly by December 1, 2019.

Overview of the study:

  • The project will:
    • Review Maryland’s individualized education program (IEP) process including identifying students that need special education evaluation, annual IEP plan development and implementation, and dispute resolution;
    • Identify best practices in special education; and
    • Determine the adequacy of current funding levels and formulas for students with disabilities in Maryland.
  • Reports will be made to the Maryland Legislature beginning on December 1, 2019 and will include up to eight presentations to the legislature and other stakeholders.

Goals of the study:

  • Make recommendations to improve Maryland’s IEP process and special education funding strategies;
  • Provide recommendations to inform the work of the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), Maryland Legislature, and the Kirwan Commission;
  • Address the State Legislature’s request for external evaluator recommendations on improving special education processes; and
  • Provide recommendations regarding appropriate level of funding for students with disabilities.

Study methods and purpose:

  • Mixed methods approach to collect data and documentation to make findings and recommendations:
    • Interviews, focus groups, school observations, and surveys to evaluate the IEP process and make staffing recommendations;
    • Cost-function analysis to inform the funding adequacy recommendations; and
    • IEP reviews, literature reviews, reviews of existing data, and a study of state-level special education funding weights to inform recommendations.
  • Case studies of typical students in special education in Maryland and their special education services will be created based on the results of our research. These cases will draw on many students with similar experiences and will not depict specific students.

Expected impact of the study:

  • Enable state legislators to make informed decisions about special education funding;
  • Enable parents, MSDE staff, local school district staff, and other stakeholders to make informed decisions about special education policy and practices;
  • Provide evidence on the implementation of best practices for educating students with disabilities in Maryland;
  • Identify ways to improve special education and MSDE support of local schools and families;
  • Validate implementation of Maryland’s special education strategic plan; and
  • Provide recommendations based on integrated study of special education and funding.

WestEd Contact Information:

Sara Doutre, Senior Program Associate
Phone: 801-620-0932

Jason Willis, Co-Director
Phone: 510-847-5894

General Information

Stakeholder Group

Final Report

Progress Reports

Stakeholder Group Meetings

  • October 24, 2019

    10:00am to 12:00pm
    Maryland State Department of Education
    200 West Baltimore Street, Conference Room #5
    Baltimore, Maryland 21201
    AgendaPDF link to October 24, 2019 Agenda

  • October 10, 2019

    9:00am to 12:00pm
    Maryland State Department of Education, State Board Room
    200 West Baltimore Street
    Baltimore, Maryland 21201
    AgendaPDF link to October 10, 2019 Agenda

  • July 25, 2019

    1:30pm - 3:30pm
    Maryland State Department of Education, State Board Room
    200 West Baltimore Street
    Baltimore, Maryland 21201

    AgendaPDF link to July 25, 2019 Agenda