Using Benefit-Cost Analysis in Special Education

Darrell R. Lewis, Robert H. Bruininks, Martha Thurlow, Kevin McGrew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


With the increasing application of benefit-cost analysis to other social service programs, the public has come to expect that similar economic analysis can be applied to special education. This article reports on some of the issues and problems inherent in such an effort. Data from a large study dealing with the costs and follow-up benefits of special education in public schools are used to illustrate that with appropriately identified and valued costs and benefits, it is possible to employ a formal benefit-cost framework to assess the efficacy and efficiency of special education services. A number of hypothetical comparison groups involving students with mild retardation are offered as illustrations in the use of this evaluation technique.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-214
Number of pages12
JournalExceptional children
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1988


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