Charter schools are committed to serving all of NYC’s children, including English Language Learners and students with special needs. Charter school leaders are using innovative ways to attract, retain and best educate English Language Learners and students with disabilities.
Over the last two years, the Charter Center has been running a multimedia, multilingual campaign to alert non-English speaking families about the charter school option. The campaign aims to support charter schools’ efforts to recruit English Language Learners (ELLs), in keeping with state law that requires charters to serve comparable numbers of ELLs and students with special learning needs.
An analysis of the English Language Learner “enrollment gap” between charter and district schools shows that it is not created because ELLs are more likely to leave charter schools over time; ELL students are retained at similar if not higher rates at charter schools. Instead, the single, overwhelming reason for the ELL gap is that fewer ELLs enroll in charter schools in the intake grades.
An analysis of the special education “enrollment gap” between charter and district schools finds that it grows wider over time – but this growth comes primarily because district schools are more likely to identify students as having a disability. Charter schools are much less likely to identify students as having a Specific Learning Disability (SLD), one of the most subjectively-diagnosed disability types that has a history of being over-applied to male students of color.
Founded in 2011, the NYC Special Education Collaborative – a city-wide, membership organization committed to supporting quality education programs for students with disabilities in charter schools – now serves over 90% of NYC’s charter schools.