School Choice & Charters

Where Are Students With Disabilities Going to School?

By Nirvi Shah — September 14, 2012 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Well, that depends.

Nationwide, as school choice options have opened up, students without special needs have tended to leave traditional public schools for charter schools or private schools, using vouchers. As this Associated Press story reported recently, for example, the Cleveland school district in Ohio has lost 41 percent of its students since 1996. That’s led the proportion of students with disabilities in the district to shoot up from about 13 percent to 23 percent of overall enrollment.

While many private school voucher programs, like this new one in Ohio, target students with disabilities, there are questions about whether more general private school choice options really are accessible to students with disabilities.

In Milwaukee, the AP reported, overall enrollment has dropped by nearly 19 percent over the past decade, and the percentage of students with disabilities rose from about 16 percent in 2002 to nearly 20 percent this year. The total enrollment in Los Angeles has dropped by 8.5 percent since the 2005-06 school year, but students with disabilities have grown from representing 11 percent of the district’s students to 13 percent.

And a Government Accountability Office report earlier this year pointed out the disparity in charter school enrollment between students with disabilities and their peers.

But this piece from the Houston Chronicle concludes that more students with disabilities in Texas are opting out of public schools, turning to homeschooling or private schools—even if that means paying for them out of pocket.

Overall, the numbers of special education students exiting traditional public schools are still small in this populous state, but they represent an interesting trend.

The number of secondary students who left public schools for homeschooling grew 50 percent from 2003 to 2010, reaching 2,040 7th- through 12th-graders, the Chronicle reported. Those who withdrew for private school increased 75 percent, reaching 772 in 2010.

The small shift coincides with another trend in Texas: a smaller proportion of students are being diagnosed with disabilities each year.

In 2011, 8.8 percent of public school students were identified as having a disability, a drop from 12 percent in 2000, the newspaper reported. That’s left Texas as the state enrolling the lowest percentage of students with disabilities in the country.

While the percentage of students diagnosed with learning disabilities nationwide has been dropping, the Chronicle reported that advocates in Texas worry that the state could be under-diagnosing students to cut costs or circumvent accountability measures.

A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Choice & Charters Virtual Charters in Hot Water Again. Accusations of Fraud Prompt $150M Lawsuit
Indiana officials seek to recoup more than $150 million they say was either wrongly obtained or misspent by a consortium of virtual schools.
Arika Herron, The Indianapolis Star
2 min read
Indiana's attorney general Todd Rokita speaks at a news conference on Sept. 16, 2020, in Indianapolis. Rokita filed a lawsuit against a group of online charter schools accused of defrauding the state out of millions of dollars Thursday, July 8, 2021.
Indiana's attorney general Todd Rokita speaks at a news conference on Sept. 16, 2020, in Indianapolis.
Darron Cummings/AP
School Choice & Charters How the Pandemic Helped Fuel the Private School Choice Movement
State lawmakers got a new talking point as they pushed to create and expand programs to send students to private schools.
8 min read
Collage showing two boys in classroom during pandemic wearing masks with cropped photo of feet and arrows going in different directions.
Collage by Gina Tomko/EducationWeek (Images: Getty)
School Choice & Charters Opinion Taking Stock After 30 Years of Charter Schools
Rick Hess speaks with Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, on charter schools turning 30.
8 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Choice & Charters In Fight Over Millions of Dollars for Charter Schools, a Marijuana Tax May Bring Peace
The Oklahoma State Board of Education voted unanimously to rescind a polarizing lawsuit settlement, pending certain stipulations.
Nuria Martinez-Keel, The Oklahoman
3 min read
Money bills cash funds close up Getty
Getty