2016 Special Education Report Press Kit

October 27, 2016

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New Study Details Special Education Best Practices in California Charter Schools 

Sacramento - Today, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) released Meeting the Needs of Every Student Through Inclusion, a report that details the special education program philosophy behind 10 exemplary California charter public schools, how they implement best practices on their campuses, and what policy arrangements have allowed them to succeed. This qualitative study of some of the highest-performing charter schools in California offers new insights into the best ways to serve students with disabilities in all schools, in particular the benefits of inclusive education.

Key Takeaways

  • These highly effective schools embrace student differences, educate students in inclusive environments, tailor programs and supports to individual student needs, and are built on supportive whole-school communities where ALL staff takes ownership of ALL students. The commitment to inclusion was clearly embraced starting at the top levels of leadership.
  • On the whole, California charter schools are serving more students with disabilities in inclusive settings than do traditional schools. Recent CDE data reports that 88% of charter school students with disabilities spend the majority of their school day in the general education setting.
  • Schools implemented Multi-Tiered Systems of Support, which are clearly-defined, team-based, data-driven systems to combine general and special education supports within a framework focused on prevention and intervention, regardless of disability. The schools also leveraged parent and community partnerships to develop support networks around their students.
  • Almost all of the schools we studied were independent from their authorizer for special education purposes, allowing them the autonomy and flexibility to design their own special education programs, adapt quickly to changing needs of their population, hire their own staff, and choose their own professional development strategies.

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