Issues 2016: Charter Schools Are Better at Retaining Hard-to-Educate Students
Though charter schools are revolutionizing U.S. urban education, critics often assert that charters post higher test scores than surrounding traditional public schools because they systematically remove their most difficult-to-educate students. To substantiate this claim, charter critics note that smaller percentages of charter students are enrolled in special education or are classified as English-language learners (ELL) than in traditional public schools, while citing various anti-charter anecdotes supplied by disgruntled parents of former charter students.
- Students with disabilities are more likely to remain in their school if it is a charter than if it is a traditional public school: in Denver, for instance, four years after entry into kindergarten, 65 percent of students with disabilities remained in their charter, compared with 37 percent of such students in traditional public schools.
- Students learning English are more likely to remain in their school if it is a charter than if it is a traditional public school: in New York City, among students classified as English-language learners, 82 percent who originally enrolled in charters for kindergarten remained in their schools four years later, compared with 70 percent of such students in traditional public schools.
- Students with low test scores are as likely to remain in charters as they are to remain in traditional public schools: this result was found in Denver, New York City, and an anonymous urban school district in the Midwest.