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Special Education

"Education for All? A Nationwide Audit Study of Schools of Choice"

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Charter schools are less likely to respond to application inquiries from parents of students with severe disabilities, according to researchers from Columbia University and the University of Florida.

Charter schools, like traditional public schools, are supposed to admit any student who comes to their door, provided there is space. To test whether that happens, the researches sent emails from fictitious parents to nearly 6,500 charter and traditional public schools in 29 states and the District of Columbia. The sample included about half of all charter schools in the country.

The study found that charter schools were 5.8 percentage points less likely than traditional district schools to respond to a query claiming to be from a parent of a student with severe disabilities. So-called "no-excuse" charter schools, which serve predominately low-income minority students in a strict, college-prep academic environment, were 10 percentage points less likely to respond.

Charter schools in states such as Michigan and Wisconsin that get reimbursed for a large portion of their realized expenses—versus having special education services funded through a formula or block grants—were 7 percentage points more likely to respond than charter schools in other states.

Vol. 38, Issue 18, Pages 4-5

Published in Print: January 16, 2019, as Special Education
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