Understanding the Charter School Special Education Gap: Evidence from Denver, Colorado

Charter schools have expanded rapidly across the nation and throughout Colorado over the last decade. Today, about 16 percent of Denver’s public school students in kindergarten through 12th grade attend one of the city’s 45 charter schools.Although Denver’s charter schools have not yet been subjected to a “gold-standard” randomized field trial, prior research using a sophisticated matching strategy has found that students who attend Denver charter schools perform better on average than they would if they had attended a nearby traditional public school instead.4 Nonetheless, many worry that the charter sector fails to achieve the mission of educating all students. In particular, a frequent critique of charter schools in Colorado and nationwide is that they fail to enroll a similar proportion of students with disabilities to that of the surrounding traditional public schools.

Click download resource above to access a 2014 CRPE report analyzing this issue.