in educating students with disabilities

Part of a study from the Center on Reinventing Publication (CRPE) and the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools (NCSECS).

When it comes to serving students with disabilities, public education faces both challenges and opportunities. New approaches and models are desperately needed for these students’ unique learning needs. While many charter schools struggle with a lack of resources, economies of scale, and experience, we found many promising examples as part of a larger study. These schools exhibit a campuswide commitment to serve each student’s unique needs, to build strong student and adult relationships, and to seamlessly integrate students with unique learning needs into the instructional and social fabric of the schools.

Read the full report

Researchers at the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) and the National Center for Education in Charter Schools (NCSECS) spent the past 12 months studying charter schools that are getting better results educating students with disabilities. Read the full report here.

When successful, charter schools leverage their autonomy to ensure the entire school community commits fully to core philosophies and hold each other accountable for delivering on them. Although their approaches are integrated, the primary practices profiled here stand out. They could be useful to any educator looking to create more inclusive settings and improve learning outcomes. We also profile distinctive schools.


When the adults in a school work together seamlessly, both in real time and behind the scenes, students benefit. Collaboration is a key attribute of excellent, integrated special education, but it works best when it is an integral part of school culture.

Featured schools: Renaissance Arts Academy, City Charter High School

Individualized Learning Plans

When the success of every student is meticulously tracked in a broad and meaningful way, student achievement becomes not only the goal but an inevitable result. Every student, not just those in special education, benefit from smart development and use of individualized learning plans.

Featured school: Audeo Charter School

Data Systems

For better or worse, data became part of the academic world in every community with the advent of the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act. Using data for more than just grading schools—or teachers—takes data-informed learning to the next level.

Featured schools: Capital City Public Charter School, Citizens Leadership Academy

Proficiency-Based Curriculum

Some schools have built into their DNA the belief that all students can learn when given the time and supports they need. A proficiency-based learning model (also called competency- or mastery-based) lives and breathes this belief by allowing students to advance at their own pace while still making sure students gain the competencies needed for college, career, and life.

Featured school: Summit Sierra

More profiles coming soon.