Federal Report Confirms Paperwork Burden, But Offers No Solutions A federal report confirms that the amount of paperwork and administrative tasks associated with special education services is excessive—but fails to suggest any solutions. After a two-year investigation, the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that $2.3–$3.4 billion—of the $11.5 billion in annual federal special education funds—is spent on administrative ... News in Brief
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News in Brief  |   April 01, 2016
Federal Report Confirms Paperwork Burden, But Offers No Solutions
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School-Based Settings / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / ASHA News & Member Stories / News in Brief
News in Brief   |   April 01, 2016
Federal Report Confirms Paperwork Burden, But Offers No Solutions
The ASHA Leader, April 2016, Vol. 21, 16. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB6.21042016.16
The ASHA Leader, April 2016, Vol. 21, 16. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB6.21042016.16
After a two-year investigation, the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that $2.3–$3.4 billion—of the $11.5 billion in annual federal special education funds—is spent on administrative tasks rather than on direct services to children.
That figure rises to $14.5–$25.2 billion with the addition of local and state funds needed to complete administrative tasks.
The GAO, the “watchdog” of Congress, issued “Special Education, State and Local-Imposed Requirements Complicate Federal Efforts to Reduce Administrative Burden,” in response to a December 2013 request from Reps. John Kline (R-Minn.) and Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), members of the House Education and Workforce Committee.
ASHA worked with the congressmen to request the study in response to ASHA’s school-based members, who consistently identify paperwork and other administrative burdens as the biggest obstacle to serving children with disabilities.
In its investigation, the GAO reviewed relevant federal laws and regulations; held nine focus groups with educators from 37 states; visited schools in Arkansas and New York; and interviewed officials from the U.S. Department of Education and other stakeholder groups, including ASHA.
Focus group participants reported spending two to three hours per day, or 20 to 30 percent of their time, on onerous and often-duplicative administrative tasks. ASHA and other stakeholders contend that these tasks take away from direct services to students and would be better spent on caseload reduction, recruitment and retention programs, or technological upgrades that would improve the paperwork burden.
Although GAO confirmed many of the elements that ASHA identified as contributing to the problem of excessive paperwork and administrative burdens—preparing IEP documents, focusing on compliance, meeting state/local requirements, determining eligibility, monitoring/reporting student progress, ensuring due process, documenting behavior problems, preparing state performance plans and annual performance reports—it made no recommendations to Congress to fix or decrease the problem.
ASHA will continue to work with Reps. Kline and Rokita and other members of Congress to find solutions to the paperwork burden.
For more information, contact Neil A. Snyder, ASHA’s director of federal advocacy, nsnyder@asha.org or 800-498-2071, ext. 5614.
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April 2016
Volume 21, Issue 4