By Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Amber M. Northern, Ph.D.
The United States wastes an enormous amount of its human capital by failing to cultivate the innate talents of many of its young people, particularly high-ability girls and boys from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds. That failure exacts a great cost from the nation’s economy, widens painful gaps in income, frustrates efforts to spur upward mobility, contributes to civic decay and political division, and worsens the inequalities that plague so many elements of our society.
All of this was reinforced in a widely noted recent study by Alex Bell, Raj Chetty, and colleagues at the Equality of Opportunity Project, which highlighted the inexcusable number of “lost Einsteins” among American students, most of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Their team found that, as early as third grade, math scores help to predict who will be awarded patents in later life—that’s the metric they used for “Einsteins”—but also that such scores explain less than one-third of the “innovation gap” between those growing up in high- versus low-income families. Because this gap grows much wider in the later grades, Bell and Chetty suggest that “low-income children start out on relatively even footing with their higher- income peers in terms of innovation ability, but fall behind over time, perhaps because of differences in their childhood environment.”
That “environment” includes many elements, including residential segregation, access to college, and exposure to innovation via family or neighborhood. But it also includes the quality of kids’ schools and the educational opportunities found therein. If the talents of low-income children are not sufficiently cultivated in our K–12 system, we will continue to lose many more potential Einsteins before they even graduate from high school.
A new Fordham study, Is There a Gifted Gap? Gifted Education in High-Poverty Schools, shows some of the ways we lose those future Einsteins due to the education system’s inability or unwillingness to do what it takes to develop the potential of hundreds of thousands of capable young people who hail from modest backgrounds.
Consider how few such youngsters make it into the gifted-and-talented programs that schools and districts offer. While schools attended by low-income children generally report having such programs at the same rate as schools serving more prosperous kids, enrollments in those programs are far smaller in low-income schools. Even within those meager enrollments, black and Hispanic pupils are sorely under-represented.
When high-achieving or high-potential poor and minority students have less access to gifted education than their peers, the existence of such programs may actually worsen inequalities, thus widening what Jonathan Plucker at Johns Hopkins University and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation term “excellence gaps”—the differences between subgroups of students performing at the highest levels of achievement.
For tomorrow’s leaders and innovators to reflect America’s diversity, today’s schools must do far better at cultivating talented children from every kind of background. First-rate gifted programming in high-poverty schools can contribute much toward this goal.
Is There a Gifted Gap?, by Christopher Yaluma of Ohio State and Fordham’s own Adam Tyner, breaks new ground by documenting several worrisome discrepancies. For the longest time, we had scant data on gifted-and-talented programs in U.S. public schools. Beginning in 2011, however, the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) began asking schools to provide basic information on enrollment in such programs and to break out that enrollment by racial and ethnic groups. The resulting data are not nearly as comprehensive as we would wish; for example, they include no information on the quality or characteristics of gifted programs, how children are admitted to them, and much else. But they’re still illuminating.
Yaluma and Tyner investigate whether high-poverty schools offer gifted-and-talented programs; the proportion of students in such schools that participates in those programs; and how that participation varies by race within schools, particularly high-poverty ones.
They unearth more bad news than good. Although most schools at every poverty level—and with every level of minority enrollment—report having gifted programs of some kind, students in affluent schools are more than twice as likely to participate in such programs, and minority youngsters, regardless of the school’s poverty level, are much less likely to participate. While 12.4 percent of students in low-poverty schools with gifted programs take part in those programs, that’s true of less than half as many (6.1 percent) in high-poverty schools. And although black and Hispanic students constitute 15 and 28 percent, respectively, of the student population, they comprise just 10 and 21 percent of those enrolled in gifted programs.
Obviously not good! But not immutable either. States, districts, and schools can change how they do this, can develop more young students into Einsteins—and can do so across more segments of the population.
They can start by improving schooling itself—a benefit to all students. That includes harnessing today’s enthusiasm for personalized learning and the technologies that facilitate it, not only to customize children’s education experiences but also to allow able students to move ahead when they’re ready. To the extent that personalized learning is well designed, tailored to students’ needs, and good at demonstrating what one has learned, acceleration of strong students should be more widely practiced than it is now.
Schools also need to identify more high-potential youngsters for inclusion in gifted education, and equip all them, especially children of color, to succeed in these challenging academic opportunities.
Thus we heartily endorse two recommendations made by the authors. First, schools should screen all of their pupils to determine which ones may benefit from gifted services. Such universal-screening practices have been shown to boost participation of minority students and can be implemented at low cost, especially since students already take multiple federal, state, and local assessments, one or more of which can serve this purpose.
Second, school systems should consider identifying the high achievers at each school, not district-wide. Although this means differing standards for inclusion in gifted programs, it will also yield greater socioeconomic and ethnic diversity in those programs.
For the K–12 system to do its part in equalizing opportunities for poor and minority youngsters in the United States, clearly much is needed in addition to gifted education. But too often reform efforts intended to boost the prospects of such children focus entirely on those who, for a hundred reasons, are struggling to achieve academically. As a result, we tend to neglect the kids who are academically able and doing well—yet whose schools do not challenge them to achieve all that they’re capable of. For schools to offer gifted education is an important start. But it isn’t enough unless they also encourage and assist students to participate in such programs—and unless those programs have both the capacity to serve them and the quality to serve them well.
The Archdiocese of Memphis, Tennessee, announced last week that it intends to close ten schools, all of them part of the “Jubilee Catholic Schools” consortium. Hailed as the “Memphis Miracle” twenty years ago when previously-shuttered inner-city Catholic schools were resurrected to provide a preferential option for the poor in a city with too few good education options, they’ve now fallen victim to the systemic problems that plague so many other Catholic schools, above all an obsolete funding model. In the past, highly educated, truly caring, and strongly motivated religious sisters, brothers, and priests staffed these schools for little or no pay, making it possible to offer an almost free and generally excellent education to many of our nation’s most underserved children, as well as many middle class youngsters from Catholic families. But declines in Catholic religious vocations, anachronistic Blaine amendment obstacles to state funding, and strong public school lobbies render this model unworkable today in many places. In just a few decades, Catholic schools have gone from serving five million students annually to half that number.
This is heartbreaking for myriad reasons. Research, for example, has found that similar closings in Chicago were associated with more crime and disorder. And although charter schools often replace defunct Catholic schools, that same research found that charters “do not yet appear to generate the same positive community benefits.”
My theory, grounded in both personal and professional experience, is that these valuable communal benefits emanate from Catholic schools being schools of virtue. Places that educate the whole child—mind, body, and soul. Such models are increasingly rare, however, and will become extinct if we aren’t careful.
There is, however, a glimmer of hope. It’s possible for charter schools to be similarly virtuous. And the story of how I came to open some is illustrative of why we need to—and can—open more of them.
I am one of six children born to an immigrant Iraqi Catholic family. Our parents taught us that, while we are on this earth, we are called to use the gifts God gave us to serve others. That message is why my older brother is a priest, why I joined Teach For America eighteen years ago, and what motivates my work today.
My time as a TFA corps member was pivotal. I had exited from Berkeley with a degree in rhetoric. My mother would often ask me, “What the heck is ‘rhetoric’?” “Don’t worry, Mom. I’m going to law school,” I’d say. But I never did. TFA assigned me to teach English in the second toughest high school in Oakland, California, and it changed everything.
Teaching consumed me. And so did my anger. I was angry that some of my tenth graders had never been taught to read; that forty-five classes had no regular teacher for the first three months of school; that having the S.W.A.T. team outside my classroom door was taken for granted. I was angry at the state, the district, and my principal. I was angry with myself for every child I failed. I had no idea what it would be like to fight and fight and fight and only sometimes win.
Something else happened during those two years of teaching: I returned to my faith, which I had largely lost during college. Student after student came to me with problems that no teenager should have to face and that no twenty-two-year-old should need to solve. So I turned to God. I prayed for my students and their families when I learned of their troubles. I prayed when I couldn’t make them better. I prayed for guidance. I prayed for forgiveness. But, always, those prayers were in private. I wanted to talk with my kids about God, to tell them that, even if their father on earth abandoned them, they had a Father in heaven who loved them completely and was always with them. But I had no idea how to navigate such a conversation in the context of a secular public school. Not being able to talk with my students about Christ was like teaching with one hand tied behind my back.
I decided that I needed to learn more if I were to help fix our broken education system. So when I finished my commitment to TFA, I went to Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government to study public policy to better understand how this amazing country of ours could possibly allow children to attend the school where I taught, and to learn what I could do about it.
Upon graduation, I accepted a job at the Philanthropy Roundtable, which was much friendlier to my faith than Berkeley, Harvard, and TFA. My colleagues and I believed that America’s underserved children needed more great schools of all kinds—be they district, charter, or private, including those that are faith-based. We believed, like the Catholic Church, that parents should have the right to decide how to educate their own children. In this country, if you have money, you can move to a neighborhood with good public schools or send your child to a private school. But if you don't have money, you don't have this freedom. The Church tells us, as a matter of justice, that this is wrong.
At the Roundtable, I learned about the legacy of Catholic schools serving the poor. For two hundred years, they were the opportunity-equalizing force in America for underserved children—Catholic and non-Catholic alike. You could even say the original Teach For America was an army of nuns who founded and built and taught in schools that gave disadvantaged children—especially new immigrants—a decent shot at success. And they accomplished this by respecting the inherent dignity of all children, by holding them all to high academic expectations, by providing them a strong foundation in core subjects, and, vitally, by nurturing in them a deep sense of something greater than themselves.
During my five years at the Roundtable, I regularly spoke with Michelle Rhee about joining her team. And when she agreed to serve as D.C. Schools Chancellor in 2007, I thought I might be able to help her. But then I spoke with my older brother, who said something that stayed with me: “Stephanie, if you can’t help children to know God, you’ll only ever get so far with them.” So in 2009 I left the Roundtable, but not to work with Rhee. Instead, feeling called to help in that way, I co-founded—with KIPP pioneer Scott Hamilton—a national non-profit that we named Seton Education Partners.
Our goal was—and still is—to expand opportunities for underserved children in America to receive an academically excellent and vibrantly Catholic education. Seton partners with (arch)dioceses and others across the country to implement innovative and sustainable new models that bridge the best of Catholic education's rich tradition with new possibilities.
Part of our work is operating sixteen blended-learning urban schools in eight cities. Thirteen of these are Catholic schools; the other three are charter schools in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the South Bronx, one of the nation’s poorest communities. That latter effort began in 2011 when the Archdiocese of New York made the heartbreaking decision to close almost sixty schools due to declining enrollment and financial instability—the very same trouble that’s forced similar decisions in so many other cities, including last week in Memphis.
Most of the recently shuttered New York schools served mostly low-income and minority children in grades K–8. They provided these boys and girls a safe haven and a holistic education that nurtured theirs heads, hearts, and spirits. In response to these closings, and at the Church’s request, Seton Education Partners set out to pioneer a new charter school model that, when paired with a vibrant after-school faith-formation program, which is voluntary for children and that does not use government funds, would achieve the goals of Catholic education for the poor—and would do so in a financially sustainable way that complies with charter school laws in both word and spirit.
The first school to operate under this model was Brilla College Preparatory Charter School, which opened in the South Bronx in August 2013. Starting with two hundred kindergarten and first grade students, today it serves 650 children in grades K–5 across three campuses. Brilla students are primarily minority (roughly two-thirds Latino, one third African American), and more than 90 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. The network has achieved academic growth results that parallel the nation’s strongest charter schools. And, more importantly, it’s pioneered a unique way to help children and staff grow virtuously by using a secular approach to character education that is rooted in Catholic tradition.
Alongside the Brilla network, Seton also launched El Camino, a daily, optional after-school faith-formation program that helps children know, love, and serve Christ and His Church. In just four years, more than seventy children have been baptized, and parents have said that El Camino has transformed their entire family.
Today, Brilla has a waiting list of over 1,600 children, and El Camino is at capacity. Even as we watch more Catholic schools get shuttered, we’re working to grow this pioneering, sustainable model to serve many more underserved children who no longer have access to a full-on Catholic education. But we’re doing something even more important. We are helping children to grow in virtue and to know, love, and serve Christ. We want our children to make it to college and heaven. That is the full package.
My friend Chester Finn recently penned an article titled “Truth decay,” which highlights the difference between critical thinking and knowledge in the pursuit of truth. Having attended the University of California as an undergrad, I saw relativism and post-modernism ravage every cranny of the campus—whether in the classes taught by misguided professors, the halls where I was a Resident Assistant, and even the Catholic Newman Center, where a Paulist priest once made fun of the Blessed Pope John Paul II in a homily, to cackles from parishioners. Taking their cues from these bad college-level examples, too many of today’s K–12 educators instill students with a universal skepticism that prevents them from determining and accepting facts where they exist. This is a dangerous distortion of critical thinking that harms our children.
Our schools, on the contrary, are rooted in truth—the kind that the ancient Greeks described, the kind that teaches right from wrong and reality from fiction. Our charter schools are not Catholic—institutions that cannot be explicit about Christ throughout the day cannot be considered religious. But like Catholic schools they take seriously the desperate need to educate children in virtues like courage, justice, wisdom, and self-control. Though not explicitly religious, these are transcendental values.
We need more schools of virtue, and not just of the Catholic variety. We need more Jewish schools, more Mormon schools, more Lutheran schools, more Baptist schools—more schools that are not only academically strong but that also give kids a solid moral foundation that aligns with their families’ traditions and values. We need more schools that respect what it truly means to be human and that educate the whole child, mind, body, and soul. We need schools that help provide an authentic understanding of true human fulfillment and flourishing, especially for children that may be living in abject poverty. And the thing is, if you ask black and Latino families, by and large, they want to see more of these schools too.
For the caring educators whose hearts break for their students but who are constrained by rigid bureaucracies or mentalities, we need to experiment and pilot new ways of teaching timeless truths and values. It may be a little messy, but doing the same thing while passively watching urban Catholic schools close does not seem right. I wish and pray for Memphis’s Jubilee schools to transition successfully into charters. Launching ten charter schools at once is not for the faint of heart, and is even harder when the charters are charged with imparting virtue, as well as knowledge and skills. But the city’s children are counting on leaders to get it right. All of us who care about the future of Catholic education in this country are.
The views expressed herein represent the opinions of the author and not necessarily the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
Last week, the Catholic Diocese of Memphis, Tennessee, faced with continued financial struggles and the failure of the most recent state voucher bill, announced a plan to close all ten of its “Jubilee Schools” at the end of next year. When the network first opened on the eve of the Year of Jubilee, in 2000, it was dubbed the “Memphis Miracle,” and it was considered a model for how to revitalize urban Catholic schools serving our poorest communities. Now it’s a cautionary tale—a warning for leaders seeking innovative ways to save urban Catholic schools.
The way the diocese is choosing to close its schools is once again putting Memphis in the spotlight. At the close of the 2018–19 school year, the diocese of Memphis will withdraw its schools completely from the urban communities it has served for decades. In the place of the closed schools, assuming the state authorizer assents, will be nine new public charter schools. Religious instruction in these new charters will be banned from the school day, but diocesan leaders hope that the students “will continue to receive an excellent education that prepares them to be giving members of their communities.”
Memphis is not the first diocese to work with charter leaders to “convert” struggling urban Catholic schools into public charter schools, but its “conversions” are certainly the most prominent.
While the seductive allure of converting cash-strapped Catholic schools into charters is clear, a closer look reveals that these conversions are mostly a mirage. Understanding why is crucial to charting a path forward that will actually achieve the goal of revitalizing urban Catholic education in America. So, in the midst of Catholic Schools Week, while we celebrate the unique contribution these institutions make in the lives of our families, let’s pause to examine what we lose when we convince ourselves that charter schools can take the place of Catholic schools in our communities.
First and foremost, we lose the ability to unapologetically teach our faith and values because there is no actual “conversion” taking place. Catholic schools close and stop teaching the faith, and authority over curriculum and instruction is turned over to a state-authorized public school.
In some cases, the newly authorized charter schools offer optional religious instruction that, advocates assure, can be slotted in a before- or after-school “wraparound” program. As if our faith were just another extracurricular activity. Yet our history teaches us that our faith provides the foundation of everything we do in school. You can’t remove the foundation without losing the house.
Perhaps the most poignant display of what giving up faith for money will mean for schools was highlighted in a 2008 New York Times article documenting the conversion of Holy Name, a D.C. Catholic school, into Center City Public Charter School. When an eighth-grade student walked into the newly converted charter on the first day, he bowed his head and began to recite the Lord’s Prayer. A teacher immediately chastised him, warning, “We don’t do that anymore.”
At the same school, the former principal, Sr. Patricia Ralph, shared a story that, in hindsight, feels prophetic: “When the school pulled off a blackboard panel to install an electronic whiteboard as part of the conversion, Ralph saw that a cross was drawn directly onto the cement wall. The whiteboard went right over it.”
It’s hard to imagine a clearer visual to represent the choice we now face.
Second, converting struggling Catholic schools to charters weakens rather than strengthens community support for our schools because it hitches our future to an increasingly controversial educational model.
An Education Next public opinion poll that was released in 2017 revealed “support for charter schools dropped by 12 percentage points between 2016 and 2017, the largest change in opinion we observed on any item.” Worse, 39 percent of respondents said they supported “the formation of charter schools,” down from 51 percent in 2016. Support among African Americans was even lower than the average, at just 37 percent.
Third, we would be abandoning the private-school path our Church leaders chose more than two centuries ago on the eve of what promises to be a breakthrough in sustainability.
Catholic schools have been fighting for access to public money—and in many cases for the right to exist at all—since the first school opened more than 160 years ago. Today, twenty-eight states have passed tax credit scholarship or voucher laws that empower even the most disadvantaged students to choose Catholic schools. And public support for private school choice is slowly rising. In the aforementioned Education Next poll, 55 percent of respondents supported tax credit scholarships and 45 percent supported vouchers. And the percent of respondents who oppose tax credits or vouchers dropped from 44 percent to 37 percent and from 29 to 24 percent, respectively.
That raises an important question: When we embrace these Catholic “conversions,” are we giving up our autonomy and the broader fight for authentic parent choice exactly when we have the greatest chance of true success?
In too many urban communities, charters have hastened the closing of Catholic schools, in part because Catholic schools have struggled to adapt to the challenges of this new era of increased competition. The end result is a system where the poorest among us are left with fewer options, not more.
If we believe that all parents—particularly those struggling to make ends meet—deserve authentic choice among diverse school options that include charter, Catholic, and traditional public schools, we can and must do better. Instead of closing schools and reopening them as charters, let’s work to diversify funding for urban Catholic schools. Let’s redouble the fight to expand vouchers and tax credits. And let’s reimagine the role the diocese should play in the operations and oversight of autonomous Catholic school networks.
The future of Catholic education is and should be proudly built on the principles of religious liberty and independence that made us great. As “Dagger” John Hughes—the first Archbishop of New York—once said, “in our age, the question of education is the question of the church.” In that spirit, we must rise to the challenge of our age and embrace different and innovative solutions that keep our values at the center of our service to the nation’s most disadvantaged communities.
Kathleen Porter-Magee is the Superintendent of Partnership Schools.
The views expressed herein represent the opinions of the author and not necessarily the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
On this week's podcast, Kate Blosveren Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director of Advance CTE, joins Alyssa Schwenk and Adam Tyner to discuss the future of career and technical education. During the Research Minute, Amber Northern examines teachers’ value-added scores in charter versus traditional public schools.
Amber’s Research Minute
Umut Özek et al., “Teacher Value-Added in Charter Schools and Traditional Public Schools,” Calder (January 2018).
Much attention is fittingly paid to race- and income-based achievement gaps in K-12 schools. But research has also documented similar and worrying gender-based gaps in college classes on high-stakes science tests. Analysts have attributed these to variations of “student deficit,” such as unequal K–12 preparation for college-level science, and to “stereotype threat”—the idea that women are led to believe they don’t have the same ability as men to succeed in STEM fields and thus perform poorly at the most stressful moments, like when taking exams. If these gender gaps and their underlying causes remain unaddressed, important and lucrative job paths in fast-growing STEM fields could be closed to many women.
A recent study by Sehoya Cotner and Cissy J. Ballen of the University of Minnesota proffered a different theory for these observed gaps: a “course deficit” model, wherein course structure leads to performance gaps, specifically instances in which high-stakes midterms and finals are the main components of final grades.
Cotner and Ballen looked at nine high-enrollment introductory biology courses at an unnamed large public university with varying mixes of high-stakes and low-stakes assessments comprising their final grades. They analyzed summative course grades and performance on midterm, final, and various lower-stakes assessments as a function of gender and of incoming preparation as measured by composite ACT scores.
Their findings were just as they had predicted: As the percentage of overall grades determined by midterm and final exams increased, the performance gaps on those tests between female and male students increased, too; and, as that percentage decreased, the gaps disappeared and sometimes even reversed. They surmise that, “[F]or some individuals, performance on exams may not reflect a student's actual content knowledge.”
Cotner and Ballen also conducted three case studies to dig down into specific course-based variables. All three reinforced the general findings, leading them to conclude that to better support women pursuing degrees in STEM field, universities should offer more courses that deemphasize high-stakes exams and rely more on active learning techniques, such as group projects, low-stakes quizzes and assignments, class participation, and in-class activities such as labs.
Even before conducting this study, Cotner and Ballen were long-time proponents and researchers of active learning techniques and mixed assessments. And although their conclusions here are compatible with the data tested and with their previous research, they leave too many questions unanswered. Wouldn’t using ACT science scores instead of less specific composite scores better determine incoming students’ preparation? After noting that performance patterns appear to support stereotype threat, why not test for it? Why not also control for the instructor’s gender? They also boldly proclaim that “the lower-value exams assessed the same content knowledge as the high-value exams, a finding that should assuage concerns that low-stakes testing means a watering-down of expectations.” But if a test constitutes a smaller percentage of a student’s grade than a midterm or final, wouldn’t the less-weighted exam be shorter and less extensive? Cotner and Ballen should have at least investigated test rigor as a factor rather than assuming it was the same in all cases.
“Why so few women in science?” asked a 2010 report from the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Stereotype threat was at the top of its list, followed by gender bias. And today’s research continues to argue strongly that stereotype threat is still at play today in STEM fields. Any study looking for an alternate theory must therefore clear a higher bar. This study needs expanding and deepening to approach that bar.
Source: Sehoya Cotner and Cissy J. Ballen, “Can mixed assessment methods make biology classes more equitable?” PLOS ONE (December, 2017).
Charter schools have long been criticized for enrolling lower percentages of students with special needs than traditional public schools. However, recent evidence suggests that this gap is narrowing. And a new study from the Institute of Education Sciences examines such changes in Louisiana.
Patrick Wolf, of the University of Arkansas, and Shannon Lasserre-Cortez, from the American Institutes for Research, use data from the Louisiana Department of Education to determine gaps in special education enrollment—defined as the percentage of students who have individualized education plans—in charters and traditional public schools from 2010–14. They look at the four educational regions of Louisiana that have three or more charter schools: New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Jefferson and five nearby parishes, and Ouachita and five surrounding parishes. They examine overall enrollment differences and differences based on school level and disability category.
Wolf and Lasserre-Cortez find that, overall, the gap in special education enrollment between charter and district schools narrowed steadily from 2.5 percentage in 2010 points to 0.5 percentage points in 2014, but also that the results were more mixed when broken down by region. The gaps in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans regions both dropped between 2010 and 2014, from 2.8 to 1.2 percentage points and 5.8 to 2.9 percentage points, respectively. Yet it held steady at 3.0 percentage points in the more suburban Jefferson region, and widened by 5.3 percentage points in the predominantly rural Ouachita region.
School-level data tell a different story. The special education enrollment gap in elementary grades narrowed but remained moderately wide at 2.3 percentage points in 2014. But the middle school gap disappeared, and the high school gap actually reversed from 0.4 percentage points in 2010 to -1.7 percentage points in 2014.
By disability category, Wolf and Lasserre-Cortez find that traditional public schools continued to serve higher proportions of students with severe and low-incidence disabilities, but also that gaps for high-incidence disabilities—emotional disturbance, specific learning disability, speech/language impairment, and other health impairments—largely disappeared, with charter schools enrolling higher proportions of students with emotional disturbance than their district counterparts.
These results are, however, limited by the study’s timeframe and location. New Orleans’s disproportionately high charter enrollment rates skew statewide findings. The analysis omits as much as 35 percent of Louisiana’s charter populations because sparse charter offerings in much of the state made charter-district comparisons infeasible. And the rates may be significantly different today than in 2014 due in part to funding changes in 2015 that gave New Orleans’s charter schools more money to serve students with severe disabilities. These caveats necessitate further research if we’re to have a complete and current understanding of these enrollments trends and how policies affect them.
Nevertheless, Wolf and Lasserre-Cortez’s study contributes to a growing body of evidence that many charter schools are working to serve special needs students at similar rates as nearby traditional public schools, particularly in urban areas.
SOURCE: Patrick J. Wolf and Shannon Lasserre-Cortez, “Special education enrollment and classification in Louisiana charter schools and traditional schools,” Institute of Education Sciences. (January 2018).