November 15, 2018
School Choice Series:
Charter Schools -- Implications for Students with Disabilities
Choice and Vouchers -- Implications for Students with Disabilities
METHODOLOGY: Both the Charter Schools and Choice and Vouchers reports utilized a mixed-methods approach that included analysis of existing policies and secondary literature, review of quantitative data, and new qualitative data in the form of regional focus groups, interviews, and case studies.
Charter Schools provides an in-depth overview of the current landscape of the education of students with disabilities in charter schools. The report highlights the widespread inconsistency that exists across the charter school sector. While some charter schools experience serious challenges with respect to the provision of special education programming and services to their students with disabilities, others have developed innovative educational approaches that can serve as models for all schools. The report recommends that policymakers and interested stakeholders build on the practices used by charter schools that have been successful in meeting the unique learning needs of students with disabilities, while also addressing areas of concern that have been highlighted in research and have persisted over many years.
Choice and Vouchers outlines the construct of vouchers, education savings accounts, and tax credits for students with disabilities. It clarifies the effect on students with disabilities of programs of school choice that allow money for each eligible student to go directly to parents rather than to the public-school system, and explains how this adjustment in the flow of public funds results in critical and often misunderstood changes in protections for students with disabilities and their families, under not only the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, but also federal nondiscrimination laws.
Both reports conclude with recommendations for federal and state departments of education and Congress to address problems that may deprive students with disabilities and their families of an equitable education.