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Charter schools serve fewer special education students than traditional schools according to a Government Accountability Office, though Michigan educators said countywide, specialized programs and parental choices likely make for the difference.
The federal report released this week indicated that about 8 percent of the students in charter schools nationally are disabled or require special services. That’s compared to 11 percent of the students in traditional schools. Data is from the 2009-2010 school year.
The GAO recommends that U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan “take measures to help charter schools recognize practices that may affect enrollment of students with disabilities” by updating existing directives and researching why the levels are different.
But tht leader of a school choice advocacy group said the GAO’s report is incomplete and flawed.
“GAO’s attempt to draw conclusions about enrollment of students with special needs in charter schools was a waste of resources,” said Jeanne Allen, president of The Center for Education Reform, in a release.
"The GAO report, by the agency’s own admission, fails to meet fundamental and rudimentary research standards. It is based wholly on anecdotal snapshots of a limited number of schools and states.”
The federal agency indicated it prepared the report after being asked about the enrollment differences, how charter schools reach out the students with disabilities and what services the schools provide.
The GAO also considered the role federal and state education departments play in overseeing the schools and their special needs programs.
“Charter schools enrolled a lower percentage of students with disabilities than traditional districts, but little is known about the factors contributed to these differences,” the report reads.
Source: MLive, 6.22.12