Some three million students in the United States attend charter schools – public schools of choice that operate autonomously from traditional district schools. Charter schools are unique and innovative mission-driven schools that are held accountable for student learning by authorisers charged with assessing their performance. In just over 25 years since the first charter school was established, they have become some of the top performing schools in the United States.
However, when it comes to educating students with learning differences, the sector is falling short of its potential. Fewer students with learning differences attend charter schools; there are generally fewer resources available for these students and there have even been lawsuits launched alleging discrimination against students with learning differences.
The National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools (NCSECS) was launched in October 2013 to raise awareness, improve access, create dynamic learning opportunities and address barriers that may impede charter schools enrolling and effectively educating students who learn differently. NCSECS communicates facts to policy makers and advocates for both policies and practices that will enable students with learning differences to succeed in charter schools. It also develops coalitions and forms essential city-specific partnerships to protect students’ rights. NCSECS has been an Oak partner with the Learning Differences Programme since 2013.
NCSECS’s goal is to advocate for students with diverse learning needs to ensure that if they are interested in attending charter schools, they are able to access this opportunity and to thrive. To find out more about the work of the NCSECS, visit its website.