LAUSD's Charter Operated Program Schools Continue to Increase the Percentage and Range of Students with Disabilities

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July 31, 2014 The LAUSD's Charter Operated Program Option 3 (COP 3) was formed in 2011 after the LAUSD Board of Education voted unanimously to restructure the existing SELPA to provide charter schools a new option with full responsibility, flexibility and autonomy for serving students with disabilities. Since the program has been operating for almost three years, a report was created to evaluate its progress.

The report contains: (1) brief account of the policy environment and the process of formation of the new option; (2) overview of the governance and finance structures; (3) composition of ember's schools; (4) summary of operations and supports available to the schools; (5) analysis of special education population and outcomes; (6) recommendations for future program, development.

Program Highlights:

  • The membership of COP3 has increased from 47 to 82 member charter schools, which in 2013-14 comprised almost half of all independent charters in LAUSD.

  • COP3 schools increased the percentage of students with disabilities they serve by 22%. Overall student enrollment in COP3 schools has increased by 40%, while the number of students with disabilities has grown by 54%.

  • Overall, the percentage of students with disabilities scoring proficient or above in ELA increased by 1.2 percentage points; 5.3 percentage points for students with low incidence disabilities.

  • In mathematics, the percentage of students with disabilities scoring proficient has decreased by 0.9 percentage points; however, the proficiency level remained unchanged for students with low incidence disabilities.

  • The API for students with disabilities subgroup increased from an average of 582 to an average of 597.

  • COP3 provided 13 targeted professional development sessions to charter schools and helped subsidize additional credentialing for approximately 230 charter school education specialists in order to ensure that all students have access to highly qualified teachers.

  • COP3 schools are continuing to serve higher numbers of students with disabilities in the most inclusive settings.

  • 13 new and continuing moderate-severe programs have been funded through COP3 grants on 18 school sites. Moreover, 4 additional programs and 1 program expansion have been approved for 2014-15 school year.

It is evident that COP3 can serve as a model for implementing innovative special education arrangements in charter schools. It allows for more autonomy, flexibility, and accountability in the delivery of special education services and yields higher student achievement outcomes.