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Effects of financial pressures on special education spending: How fiscal sensitivity influences service expenditure

Davis, Lewis William
Scope and Method of Study: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between financial pressure and resource allocation among administrators choosing services for special education students. Participants were 125 school principals in four artificially created fiscal sensitivity groups who responded to a survey. Each principal chose services for two hypothetical special education students depicted as either aggressive or non-aggressive. Dollar values were calculated according to services chosen for each student and average expenditures were compared across all four fiscal sensitivity groups, and both student types, utilizing a 2 x 4 ANOVA.
Findings and Conclusions: The primary hypothesis that fiscal sensitivity (financial pressure) would affect expenditures was not realized. No statistically significant relationship existed between the mean expenditure values across the four groups of principals exposed to varied financial pressures. The secondary hypothesis that student type (aggressive vs. non-aggressive) affects expenditure was realized. Mean expenditures by principals were statistically different for the two student types. Future research may use a more sensitive methodology and statistical analysis to study hypothesized effects of financial pressures during the special education service-provision decision-making process.