Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Do Charter Schools Under-Enroll Special Needs Kids?

 A common complaint about charter schools is that they tend to enroll fewer kids with disabilities than traditional public schools. A new study out on New York State’s charter schools, conducted by Center for Reinventing Public Education (commissioned by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers), comes to these conclusions:
•    At the middle and high school levels, the average enrollment figures are actually higher in charter schools than in district-run schools and the distribution and range are almost indistinguishable.
•    A marked difference in special education student enrollments, however, does appear when charter elementary schools are compared with their district-run counterparts.
•    While some authorizers oversee schools with special needs enrollments that “closely track those of nearby district-run schools, other authorizers oversee groups of schools that don’t mirror” the special education enrollments of their district-run neighbors.
The authors also ask this "troubling" question: "are charter schools under-enrolling or under-identifying students with special needs, or are district-run schools over-identifying them?"

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