Students with Disabilities in Urban Massachusetts Charter Schools: Access to Regular Classrooms

Christian Wilkens


This paper examines the access of students with disabilities to regular classrooms in charter and traditional schools in cities across Massachusetts. Public school enrollment and placement data are examined for 2003-07; overall, access to regular classrooms showed high variability by city. Urban charter schools educated significantly lower percentages of students with disabilities in substantially separate classrooms (0-5.7%), compared to urban traditional schools (15.0%-45.8%); however, charter schools enrolled significantly fewer students who are not easily included in regular classes. Both charter and traditional schools have increased regular classroom access considerably from 2003-2007. Discussion focuses on the challenges of interpreting variability in regular classroom access, given major enrollment gaps of students with disabilities between charter and traditional schools. Future policy and regulatory work should emphasize improving charter school access among students with disabilities.


Inclusion; access; charter schools; students with disabilities

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Copyright (c) 2011 Christian Wilkens

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ISSN: 2159-8371