BOSTON'S HIGH PERFORMING CHARTERS HAVE HIGH SPECIAL NEEDS ENROLLMENT

July 16, 2014
Dom Slowey

Data from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (2013-14) shows that the highest performing Boston charter public schools have higher special needs enrollment than the highest performing Boston district schools (BPS).

In addition, the relationship between special needs enrollment and performance in Boston charters and BPS is inverted. Among Boston charters, the higher performing schools have higher special needs populations; the opposite is true among BPS schools.

The state’s new accountability system rates schools according to various performance criteria and ranks them into five categories – Levels 1-5 with Level 1 being the highest performers and Levels 4-5 being in need of state intervention.

  • Special needs enrollment in Boston charter public schools rated Level 1 is 15.7%;
  • Special needs enrollment in Boston charter public schools rated Level 2 is 15.4%;
  • Special needs enrollment in Boston district public schools rated Level 1 is 11%;
  • Special needs enrollment in Boston district public schools rated Level 2 is 17.7%;
  • Special needs enrollment in Boston district public schools rated Level 3 is 20.9%; (since there is only one Level 3 charter public school in Boston, comparisons are not relevant).

Other Interesting data regarding academic performance and special needs enrollment:

  • The city’s exam schools, which have rigorous admissions policies, have special needs enrollment of: Boston Latin (1.1%), Boston Latin Academy (2.1%) and John D. O’Bryant (3.1%). 
  • Not one of the five Level 1 BPS high schools have SPED enrollment higher than the district average; SPED enrollment ranges from 1.1% to 19.3%.
  • All six charter high schools have SPED enrollment higher than 16%; the range is 16.6% to 25.3%.
  • Among Boston’s charter public schools with elementary and middle school grades, SPED enrollment ranges from 6.2% to 21.3%.
  • Among BPS elementary schools with elementary and middle school grades, SPED enrollment ranges from 1.1% to 35.2%.

Issues: