Schools of Choice and Marginalized Students

Students with Disabilities and English Learners

Authored by: Madeline Mavrogordato , Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj

Handbook of Research on School Choice

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9780815381464
eBook ISBN: 9781351210447
Adobe ISBN:


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Inequitable access to schools of choice for students who are perceived as more challenging or costly to educate has been a long-standing critique of school choice policies. This chapter examines the existing evidence on the school choice participation of two historically underserved groups: students with disabilities (SWDs) and English Learners (ELs). It starts with a demographic snapshot of the population of SWDs and ELs in U.S. schools and presents the legal and regulatory frameworks that establish their educational rights and protections. Next, the chapter reviews the literature on enrollment patterns by school type and outlines key outcomes of SWDs and ELs in schools of choice compared to their peers in traditional public schools. It then explores some of the mechanisms that may be producing the patterns observed. The chapter closes with a discussion of some of the current and proposed policy and programmatic innovations that have been developed both to address the underrepresentation of SWDs and ELs in some schools of choice and to prepare school personnel across all school types to meet diverse students’ needs.

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