Citation
Is school of a choice a choice for all in Douglas County, Colorado?

Material Information

Title:
Is school of a choice a choice for all in Douglas County, Colorado?
Creator:
Worcester, Jennifer
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Language:
English

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Doctorate ( Doctor of psychology)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
School of Education and Human Development
Degree Disciplines:
School psychology
Committee Chair:
Crepeau-Hobson, Franci
Committee Members:
Harris, Bryn
Stein, Rachel

Notes

Abstract:
School of choice has been touted as a solution to the alleged decay of the American educational system. Every year more and more “choice schools” (charter, magnet, expeditionary, and others) open across the United States. Although these schools are subject to the same federal legal requirements as traditional public schools to provide a free and appropriate public education, there is a substantial body of research suggesting that inequalities exist in the representation and performance of students who attend choice and neighborhood schools. The Douglas County School District in Colorado has been on the forefront of the choice school movement. It is unique among school districts offering charter schools due to the relatively high socioeconomic status of its residents. Historically, most charter schools have replaced low achieving schools or have been opened in high poverty urban areas. Accordingly, there is minimal research on how charter schools function in affluent communities and how accessible they are to all families in the communities they serve. The purpose of this study was to determine if there is a significant difference in the population of subgroups of historically disadvantaged students at charter schools compared to neighborhood schools due to barriers causing a lack of real choice for some families in Douglas County. The result of this research indicates that there is, in fact, a significant difference. The gap in attendance rates is especially true for students who qualify for free or reduced cost lunch and special education students.

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University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
Rights Management:
Copyright Jennifer Worcester. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

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Full Text
IS SCHOOL OF CHOICE A CHOICE FOR ALL
IN DOUGLAS COUNTY, COLORADO? by
JENNIFER WORCESTER B.A., University of Colorado, 1998 M.A., University of Colorado, 2001
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Psychology School of Psychology Program
2019


This thesis for the Doctor of Psychology degree by Jennifer Worcester
has been approved for the School Psychology Program by
Franci Crepeau-Hobson, Chair Bryn Harris Rachel Stein
Date:
May 18, 2019 ii


Worcester, Jennifer (PsyD, School Psychology Program)
Is School of Choice a Choice for all in Douglas County, Colorado?
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Franci Crepeau-Hobson
ABSTRACT
School of choice has been touted as a solution to the alleged decay of the American educational system. Every year more and more “choice schools” (charter, magnet, expeditionary, and others) open across the United States. Although these schools are subject to the same federal legal requirements as traditional public schools to provide a free and appropriate public education, there is a substantial body of research suggesting that inequalities exist in the representation and performance of students who attend choice and neighborhood schools. The Douglas County School District in Colorado has been on the forefront of the choice school movement. It is unique among school districts offering charter schools due to the relatively high socioeconomic status of its residents. Historically, most charter schools have replaced low achieving schools or have been opened in high poverty urban areas. Accordingly, there is minimal research on how charter schools function in affluent communities and how accessible they are to all families in the communities they serve. The purpose of this study was to determine if there is a significant difference in the population of subgroups of historically disadvantaged students at charter schools compared to neighborhood schools due to barriers causing a lack of real choice for some families in Douglas County. The result of this research indicates that there is, in fact, a significant difference. The gap in attendance rates is especially true for students who qualify for free or reduced cost lunch and special education students.
This form and consent of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication.
Approved: Franci Crepeau-Hobson
iii


TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I. INTRODUCTION............................................................. 1
II. LITERATURE REVIEW.........................................................3
The Development of Charter Schools in the United States..................... 3
Colorado.....................................................................4
Douglas County...............................................................4
Charter School Performance...................................................8
Barriers to Access by Special Student Populations...........................12
Special Education Students..............................................14
English Language Learners.............................................. 18
Ethnic Minorities.......................................................22
Economically Disadvantaged Students.................................... 25
Additional Barriers.....................................................27
Enrollment and Admission Policies.................................28
Forced Volunteerism...............................................29
Mandatory Fees................................................... 30
Transportation....................................................31
III METHODS..................................................................32
Data Collection.............................................................32
The Colorado Department of Education....................................32
A Community Survey Conducted by the DCS.................................32
School Websites and Interviews with Staff...............................33
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Procedures
34
Analysis.......................................................................36
IV. RESULTS......................................................................38
Differences in Student Populations............................................. 38
ELL Students...............................................................39
Special Education Students.................................................40
Free and Reduced Lunch Students............................................41
Minority Students..........................................................42
Barriers to Access Charter Schools..............................................43
Admission Procedures.......................................................46
Volunteer Requirements.....................................................47
Mandatory Student Fees.....................................................48
Cost of Kindergarten.......................................................49
Other Associated Fees......................................................51
Transportation.............................................................51
Other Barriers.............................................................53
Is Douglas County Unique........................................................53
V. DISCUSSION.................................................................. 55
Limitations............................................................... 60
Conclusions and Future Direction.......................................... 61
REFERENCES........................................................................63
v


LIST OF TABLES
TABLE
I - Population characteristics and demographics - United States, Colorado,
Denver and Douglas County.................................................... 5
2 - Historically underserved subgroups from Colorado charter public schools
perform better on state assessments..........................................11
3 - PARC scores means for all grades for Douglas County Schools......................12
4 - Douglas County student populations for charter and non-charter schools...........38
5 - Summary of Results of English Language Learners..................................39
6 - Summary of Results of Special Education Students.................................40
7 - Summary of Results of Fee or Reduced Lunch Students..............................41
8 - Summary of Results of Minority Students......................................... 42
9 - Community Survey Results, Q. 7.1: Rate your overall quality of education
provided.......................................................................43
10 - Community Survey Results, Q. 10.2: Indicate your support or opposition to charter
schools .......................................................................43
II - Community Survey Results, Q. 38: Do you feel like you have a choice in
schools for your child?........................................................44
12 - Community Survey Results, Q 37: Was quality of educational programming
a factor in choosing school or program?........................................45
13 - Enrollment practices for Douglas County charter schools.........................47
14 - Parental volunteering requirements............................................. 48
15 - Student Fees - Douglas County School District charter schools...................48
16 - Community Survey, Q 37: Was cost a factor in choosing a school or program?......49
17 - Cost of Kindergarten - Charter Schools..........................................50
18 - Cost of Kindergarten - Neighborhood and Charter Schools.........................51
vi


19 - Community Survey, Q 37: Was transportation to and from school a factor
in choosing a school or program?............................................................ 52
20 - Community Survey, Q : Opinion on improving transportation fleet and
eliminating transportation fees?............................................................ 52
vii


LIST OF FIGURES
FIGURE
1 - The number of charter schools operating in Colorado by year....................... 4
2 - Percentage of special education students in charter schools
and statewide, 2001 to 2015....................................................18
3 - Percentage of English language learner students attending charter
schools and statewide..........................................................22
4 - Percentage of minority students attending charter school and statewide............25
5 - Percentage of students eligible for free or reduced cost lunch
in charter schools and statewide................................................26
viii


CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
Charter schools are promoted as a way to advance the quality of education for all students. Weiler and Vogel (2015) state the fairly obvious observation that “for charter schools to become laboratories for public education, they have to serve similar student populations as traditional public schools.” (p. 1). This research examines whether there are barriers in place that might preclude certain segments of student populations from enrolling in charter schools in the Douglas County School District (DCSD) which serves the public school students in Douglas County, Colorado. Specifically, the research aimed to determine whether school of choice is really a choice available to all families of Special Student Populations (SSP) in Douglas County, Colorado. “Special Student Populations” means, for purposes of this study, special education students1, English Language Learners2 (ELL), ethnic minority students, and students from economically disadvantaged families3. This study also examined barriers that may impact the availability of choice for families with SSPs. The barriers examined include: the enrollment process at charter schools, the requirement at charter schools that parents volunteer a certain amount of their time, the mandatory fees charged at charter schools, the cost of kindergarten at charter schools, the lack of district provided transportation for charter school students and other
1 For purposes of this paper, the terms “special education students” and “students with disabilities” will be used interchangeably to denote students with Individualized Education Plans who are entitled to special education services under federal law.
2 ELL students are commonly defined as those who speak a language other than English at home and score below proficient on English assessments when entering the schools system.
See http://schools.nyc.gov/Academics/ELL/default.htm
3 Students that qualify for free or reduced cost lunches are used as proxy for students from low income families and therefore considered to be economically disadvantaged.
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barriers with no discernible purpose other than to limit access to charter schools by unwanted students. Specifically, this study sought to answer the following questions:
• Is there a significant difference in the enrollment of SSPs between charter schools and non-charter schools in Douglas County,
Colorado?
• To what extent do SSPs confront barriers to access charter schools in Douglas County?
• Are the enrollment rates of SSPs in the DCSD charter and neighborhood schools similar to the enrollment rates in neighboring school districts? Or, is the DCSD unique?
The DCSD was chosen for this research for several reasons. First, the school district has made a strong commitment to school choice by authorizing the creation of numerous charter schools within the county. Second, in general, charter schools are heavily concentrated in urban centers and have been deliberately concentrated in communities of color and in neighborhoods with high rates of poverty (Casey, 2014); making Douglas County a relatively unique county in that it is predominately rural in character and is inhabited by higher percentage of people who are white, more affluent, and more educated than people in most other counties. And third, there is a dearth of literature concerning the academic performance of students in charter schools and barriers to access to charter schools in areas like Douglas County.
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CHAPTER II
LITERATURE REVIEW
The research reported below is mainly concerned with barriers that prevent or inhibit traditionally disadvantaged students to access schools of choice. However, consideration is also given to the performance of Special Student Populations (SSP)s attending charter schools and how this compares to neighborhood schools. If particular subgroups of students do not perform as well or better in charter schools than their counterparts at neighborhood schools, then their underrepresentation in charter schools becomes less significant. On the other hand, if particular subgroups of students perform as well or better in charter schools, then their exclusion and the barriers that cause their underrepresentation become more important to understand. The literature described and discussed below makes clear that it is important to understand the various subgroups of traditionally disadvantaged students and the barriers that may exist that prevent them from attending charter schools in Douglas County.
The Development of Charter Schools in the United States.
The Colorado Department of Education defines charter schools as:
a public school operated by a group of parents, teachers and/or community members as a semi-autonomous school of choice within a school district, operating under a contract or “charter” contract between members of the charter school community and the local board of education.
In a charter school, each student, parent and teacher chooses to be there. The ‘charter,’ as defined in the Charter School Act (Sections 22-30.5-101 et seq. C.R.S.), spells out the school goals, standards, education design, governance and operations.
(Colorado Department of Education, n.d.)
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The first state to legislatively authorize the establishment of charter schools was Minnesota in 1991, with California and Colorado following soon thereafter (Weiler & Vogel, 2015). According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (National Alliance, n.d.), as of the 2016-17 school year, charter school legislation has been passed in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Between the school years 2000-2001 and 2015-2016 the percentage of public schools that were charter schools increased from 2% to 7%, and the total number of charter schools increased from 3,400 to 6,999 nationwide. The percentage of students who attended public charter schools increased from 2% to 7% between the fall of 2004 and fall of 2017. The total number of students enrolled in public charter schools increased from 0.4 million to 2.8 million by the fall of 2015 (U.S. Department of Education, 2017). Similar trends have been seen in states across the country with charter schools, or public schools of choice, multiplying in numbers over the past twenty years nationwide (Xiang & Tarasawa, 2015). Colorado
According to the Colorado League of Charter Schools, the percentage of public school students attending Colorado charter schools has increased significantly since 1993 when the state legislature approved the state’s first charter laws. In the 2017-2018 school year, 13.2% of all public school students attended charter schools. According to the report, 51.1% of all minority students attend charter schools, while 45% attended non-charter schools. Similarly, 21.1% of students who are English Language Learners attend charter schools, while 16.3% attend noncharter schools (Colorado League of Charter Schools, n.d.)
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Figure 1 shows the relative constant growth of the operation of charter schools in
Colorado between 1993 and 2016.
Douglas County
Douglas County is located midway between Colorado's two largest cities, Denver and Colorado Springs. In July 2017, Douglas County, Colorado, was named the fifth wealthiest county in the country by Forbes Magazine (Lerner, 2017). It is the seventh-most populous of the 64 counties in the State of Colorado with a population of 285,465 (United States Census Bureau, n.d.). According to the United States Census Bureau, Douglas County has the highest median household income of any Colorado county or statistical equivalent and is ranked ninth nationally in that category. Douglas County has the lowest child poverty rate (2.7%) than any other county in the United States. (Dunn, et al., 2018). Table 1, displays population characteristics and demographics for Douglas County and compares them with the United States, Colorado and Denver. The comparisons clearly indicate that Douglas County is, indeed, a unique community. It is an overwhelmingly white, affluent, and well educated community.
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Table 1. Population Characteristics and Demographics - United States, Colorado, Denver and Douglas County
Category United States Colorado Denver Douglas County
Demographics
Total Population 325,719,178 5,607,154 704,621 285,465
White 76.6% 87.3% 77.0% 90.4%
Black 13.4% 4.5% 9.8% 1.5%
American Indian 1.3% 1.6% 0.9% 0.5%
Asian 5.8% 3.4% 3.5% 4.9%
Hispanic 18.1% 21.5% 3.0% 8.7%
Pacific Islander %
Two or more races 2.7% 3.0% 3.4% 2.6%
Economics
Median Household Income $55,322 $62,520 $56,258 $105,759
Poverty Rate 12.70% 11% 16.40% 3.40%
Language
Language other than English spoken at home, % of persons age 5+ 21.1% 17.0% 27.1% 9.2%
Foreign Born 13.2% 15.9% 9.8% 7.8%
Education
Percent of persons with a Bachelor's degree or higher, % of persons age 25+ 30.3% 38.7% 45.7% 57.5%
Source: United States Census Bureau, State and County QuickFacts. Population estimates - July 1,2017
Douglas County public school students are served by the Douglas County School District
RE-1 (DCSD), the third-largest school district in Colorado. In addition to traditional
neighborhood schools, the DCSD operates 19 charter schools (DCSD created the first charter
school in Colorado in 1993), 4 alternative schools, 1 magnet school, and supports online and
home education (DCSD, n.d.). There are no current plans for any neighborhood schools to open
in the future despite the continued population growth in the county (DCSD, n.d.).
In recent years Douglas County has been at the forefront of a nationwide experiment in
the school of choice movement. In fact, the DCSD was identified as such by former United
States Secretary of Education William Bennett who commented:
Somebody is trying to do all the good reforms at once out in Douglas County. It’s a remarkable group of people there who are trying to do choice, accountability, high standards. These kinds of things have happened, but not quite like in Douglas County.
(Hess & Eden, 2013, p. 2; quoting Bennett [2013] speech).
6


The district received this distinction, in part, because in March of 2011, the DCSD Board unanimously approved a new strategic plan entitled New Outcomes for a New Day (NOND Plan; DCSD, n.d.).
Within the NOND Plan, the board identified three implementation priorities: choice, world-class education, and system performance. The most significant and novel part of the plan relating to choice was the Choice Scholarship Pilot Program (CSPP), a voucher program that awarded taxpayer-funded grants to help pay tuition at partnering private schools, including religious schools. Following a lawsuit by Douglas County taxpayers, the Colorado Supreme Court held that the voucher program violated the Colorado Constitution (art. ix, sec. 7) which prohibits the use of public moneys to fund religious schools (Taxpayers for Public Education v Douglas County School District, 2015).
The DCSD appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court, but subsequently withdrew the appeal upon the election of new DCSD board members who opposed the voucher program. On December 5, 2017, the DCSD Board of Education voted 6-0 rescinding the Choice Scholarship Program. The Colorado Supreme Court subsequently dismissed the case as moot (Douglas County School District, 2018).
Also included in the NOND Plan was the establishment of charter schools within the DCSD. These new charter schools were intended to be tuition-free schools operated by independent board of directors that could be composed of parents, teachers, and community members. The charter schools were to be schools of choice within the DCSD, operating pursuant to the Colorado Charter Schools Act (Sections 22-30.5-101 et seq. C.R.S.), and in accordance with their contract or “charter” between the board of the charter school and the DCSD Board.
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Charter School Performance
As noted above, charter schools have grown rather significantly in many states across the nation and it is clear that choice education has found a place in the American educational system. The Washington Post reported that President Trump and United States Education Secretary Betsy DeVos “have made one thing clear when it comes to education policy, it is this: Their priority is expanding ‘school choice’” (Strauss, 2017, p. 1). Cohodes (2018) claims that increasing competition by allowing students “to vote with their feet” will improve system wide performance. (p. 48). See also Barrow & Sartain (2017) (quoting United States Secretary of Education William Bennett). Secretary Bennet argued that increased competition from private schools would improve the performance of Chicago Public Schools. (p. 1); and, The Economist (2018) (quoting John Schilling, president of the American Federation for Children stating that “[p]arents right to choice is really the civil-rights issue of the 21st century” (p. 4). The public debate surrounding charter schools has focused on the relative performance of charter schools compared to traditional neighborhood schools.
In 2010, the National Center for Educational Evaluation and Regional Assistance, part of the Institute of Education Sciences, issued its report on the evaluation of charter school impacts (IES, 2010). The Center evaluated 36 charter middle schools across 15 states and compared outcomes of students who applied and were admitted to those schools through randomized admissions lottery (lottery winners) with students who participated in an admission lottery but failed to be admitted at these same schools (lottery losers). Based on the findings, the report concluded that charter middle schools that hold lotteries are neither more nor less successful than traditional schools in improving student achievement, behavior, and school progress. In addition, evaluation findings indicated significant variability in terms of the impact that charter middle
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schools have on student achievement (IES, 2010). Subsequent studies attempting to evaluate the performance of charter schools report similar results with several important distinctions. Research conducted by Xiang and Tarasawa (2015) concluded that charter school students consistently perform better on mathematical achievement measures, but the authors noted that national research is inconclusive, in part, because of the complexity in conducting proper comparisons.
In August 2016, the American Enterprise Institute issued the results of its research on national comparisons of charter and traditional public schools (Malkus, 2016). Using data from both charter and traditional schools, the authors matched each charter school with its five nearest traditional public schools. The study arrived at two main conclusions: First, comparisons between the performance of students attending charter and traditional schools can only be valid if the comparisons are limited to neighboring charter and traditional public schools. And, second, that while charter schools and traditional public schools are inherently different, these differences make comparisons of test results unreliable as a measure of performance. When comparing neighboring charter and non-charter schools, many of the average differences disappear.
Cohodes (2018) cautions that it is not appropriate to compare test scores of students who attend charter schools with the scores of students in traditional schools. Differences in scores may be caused by differences in schooling or by differences in the type of students who attend charter schools. Higher scores may be attributed to higher motivated students as opposed to the quality of charter schools versus traditional schools.
Cohodes (2018) concluded that charter schools perform at about the same level as traditional schools, but there exists considerable variations in charter school impacts. She cites a
9


number of studies to support the conclusion that there is a substantial body of research on academic performance of charter schools and traditional neighborhood schools, but the research is of uneven quality. Cohodes significantly relied upon a particularly comprehensive assessment of charter school effects from the Center for Research on Educational Outcomes, at Stanford University (CREDO, 2015).
The CREDO study is a more recent and expanded replication of a 2009 16-state study which took a comprehensive look at the impact of charter schools on student performance. The 2009 study concluded that there was a wide variation in quality among charter schools, with students not performing as well as those attending neighborhood public schools. A 2013 followup study examined the performance of students at an expanded number of charter schools in 26 states, including Colorado and New York City, making up 95% of the nation’s charter school students. The students in those charter schools showed improved academic performance over the results reported in the 2009 study and an upward trend in their academic performance over the past five years. Most impressively, the study found that Black students, students in poverty, and English Language Learners improved their academic performance equivalent to receiving significantly more days of learning each year in charter schools than comparable neighborhood schools in both reading and math. (CREDO, 2013, p, 17).
In a large-scale study which included 33 charter schools in 13 states, the researchers concluded that there were, in fact, variations in student achievement (Clark, Gleason, Tuttle, & Silverberg, 2014). One of their findings indicated that charter schools in urban areas or those serving more disadvantaged populations had more positive impacts than those in non-urban areas or serving more advantaged populations. (Clark et al., 2014). Thus, there is great potential for
10


urban charter schools to generate impressive achievement gains, especially for minority students living in high-poverty areas. (Angrist, 2013).
Clearly, the research comparing student achievement in charter schools versus noncharter schools has been largely inconclusive. Some studies report that charter schools have higher academic achievement and real choice, while other research shows just the opposite. Ultimately, the impact of charter schools on academic achievement should be examined at the local level as national numbers are not representative of individual states or school districts.
The Colorado Department of Education claims that charter schools in Colorado continue to generally outperform non-charter schools on state performance measures (Department of Education, 2016). Table 2 displays the result of research conducted by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)4, during the 2015-2016 school year, attempting to show the relative performances of historically underserved subgroups of students attending Colorado charter schools and Colorado non-charter schools.
Table 2 - Performance of Historically Underserved Groups at Charter Schools and Noncharter Schools. Based Upon the Results of the 2015 PARCC Assessments
Level Benchmarks Percent of Students That Met or Exceeds Grade
Colorado Charter Public Schools Non-charter public Schools
Free or Reduced Language Arts: 27.8% 22.4%
Price Lunch Students Mathematics: 19.4% 14.6%
Limited English Language Arts: 28.7% 19.7%
Proficiency Students Mathematics: 22.1% 14.8%
Students with Language Arts: 10.1% 6.5%
Disabilities Mathematics: 8.6% 5.8%
Source: Results of 2017-2018 PARC Assessments.
4 PARCC is a consortium of states developing assessments to measure student achievement in English Language Arts and Mathematics based on the learning standards contained in the Common Core State Standards for grades 3-8 and high school.
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The PARCC results show that certain historically underserved student subgroups attending charter schools in Colorado performed better on state assessment tests than their counterparts attending non-charter schools.
The Douglas County School District reports that students in charter schools in Douglas County tend to perform better academically than those in non-charter schools. They tout their district as “one of the top school districts in Colorado” and publicize the fact that “Newsweek’s 2013 rankings of the nation’s high schools listed all six DCSD high schools as among the top 40 schools in Colorado” (DCSD, 2013). The test results shown in the following table, however, while showing some improvement in scores, these differences are not significant.
Table 3 - PARC scores means for all grades for Douglas County Schools
Douglas County Charter and Magnet Schools Douglas County Neighborhood Schools
English: 759 751
Mathematics: 751 744
Source: Results of the 2017 - 2018 PARC Assessments
Barriers to Access by Special Student Populations
Historically, charter schools have been rolled out in low-income and struggling school districts - “school of choice is rarely a pressing concern in suburban communities” (Hess &
Eden, 2013, p. 8). A great deal of attention has been paid to the successes and failures of such charter schools, and although charter schools are subject to the same federal requirements as traditional public schools to provide free and appropriate public education to all, critics have argued that charter schools do not enroll a proportionate number of students with disabilities, English Language Learners, ethnic minorities, and economically disadvantaged students (Winters, 2015).
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Frankenberg, Lee, and Minow (2003) suggest that even though school of choice has grown in Colorado and the nation, there are many critics of this movement. Opponents of charter schools argue that these schools “cream-skim” the best students from traditional public schools and push hard-to-educate students to traditional public schools (Anderson, 2017). Zimmer & Guarino (2013) indicate that the enrollment of students in charter schools may be motivated by a desire to avoid enrolling expensive-to-educate students. Anderson published the results of her empirical studies using available evidence that assess whether there are differences in enrollment patterns for students with disabilities and limited English language students. She concluded that the literature review clearly documents that students with disabilities and special education students are underserved in charter schools (2017). She cautions, however, that there is other evidence to suggest that the apparent underrepresentation is due, at least in part, to families selecting schools rather than schools selecting students.
The advent of school choice and the establishment of charter schools present an opportunity to explore new approaches to public education and to compare student achievement between students attending charter schools and students attending traditional neighborhood schools. However, to be useful, comparisons must be based upon the achievement of students attending schools that serve similar student populations. Moreover, it is critical to determine if there are barriers to charter school enrollment for certain student groups as this may impede improvement on traditional public education via the charter school movement (Sarason, 1998; Weiler & Vogel, 2015). Indeed, Weiler & Vogel highlight a number of barriers to access charter schools for particular disadvantaged subgroups of students.
There is extant research on the discrepancy of special education students’ attendance in charter schools, discrepancy in the availability of choice to economically disadvantaged families,
13


and other barriers to families to access charter schools (Buckley & Sattin-Bajaj, 2011).
However, much of the research has been conducted in struggling cities and low performing school districts and there is a dearth of research on what school of choice looks like in an affluent community such as Douglas County. The DCSD’s school of choice program is not seen as a method to “bail out” struggling schools, but significantly as an opportunity to provide families more options for their children.
DCSD prides itself in offering innovative programs designed to meet the educational needs and desires of students, parents, staff and the community. We embrace school choice by offering a wide variety of pathways to learning, including: neighborhood schools, magnet, charter, online, home education, contract schools, and scholarship to private partner schools that contract and meet all DCSD conditions of eligibility.
(DCSD, n.d., p. 5)
The DCSD’s strategic plan may be intended to produce excellent outcomes for its students; however, it should not be morally acceptable that so called “schools of choice” should be permitted to operate as segregated institutions where students are isolated by race, socioeconomic status, disability, or language.
Special Education Students.
Charter schools, as public institutions, are subject to the same legal requirements as traditional schools that are applicable to students with disabilities. The legal requirements include the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)5, Section 5046, to the
5 The IDEA, 20 U.S.C. §794, authorizes federal funding for special education and related services. For states that accept IDEA funding, the statute sets out detailed requirements regarding the provision of special education, including the requirement that children with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education.
6 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C.§794, prohibits discrimination based upon disability. See Durheim (2018) for good explanation of Section 504 legal requirements.
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extent the charter school receives any federal funding, and Title II of the ADA7, regardless whether it receives any federal funds (COPAA, 2012). Thus, students with disabilities enrolled in charter schools have the same legal rights as those enrolled in traditional public schools. In addition, Local Education Agencies (LEA)8 are legally required to identify, locate, and evaluate all eligible children to ensure each child is provided a free and appropriate public education. This legal requirement includes providing, as necessary, specialized instruction and related services based upon the student’s unique needs and educated with students without disabilities to the maximum extent appropriate. (COPAA, 2012).
Since the early stages of the charter school movement, there has been a healthy skepticism regarding the willingness and ability of charter schools to serve the educational needs of students with disabilities (COPAA, 2012). Early research completed by McLaughlin and Henderson (1998) shortly after charter schools emerged in Colorado reported that there was a general lack of information regarding charter schools serving special education students. Since then, literature regarding the attendance of students with disabilities at charter schools has markedly increased. Unfortunately, the literature merely confirms that students with disabilities continue to be underrepresented in charter schools. (COPPA, 2012)
The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) issued a report in 2012 analyzing the legal issues and areas of concern regarding students with disabilities and charter
7 Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §12132, extends the prohibition on discrimination by Section 504 to all activities of the state and local government regardless of entities Federal financial assistance.
8 An LEA is a public authority that is designated to oversee the implementation of education policies set forth by the federal government. An LEA typically refers to a local school district board. In Douglas County, the DCSD Board serves as the LEA for all charter schools except one (the Colorado Early College in Parker which is served by the Charter School Institute).
15


schools. They reported that while the number of students with disabilities enrolled in charter schools nationally has continued to grow in the decade preceding the issuance of their report, several school districts that rely heavily on charter schools (New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.) all faced claims of systematic discrimination under the IDEA and Section 204 (COPAA, 2012). Using Louisiana Department of Education data, the complainants were able to show that 27 charter schools in New Orleans enrolled less than 10% of students with disabilities, and 11 charter schools reported enrolling 5% or less of students with disabilities, revealing a similar pattern as Los Angeles and Washington, DC. (COPAA, 2012).
Winters (2015) reports that there is no real evidence to explain the disparity in attendance of disadvantaged students at charter schools compared to traditional schools. Torre (2013) suggests that charter schools adopt and follow unofficial policies of “counseling out” children with disabilities. Once charter schools begin accepting applications for attendance from students with disabilities they begin “cream skimming” or denying access to special education students so that these students do not bring down overall test scores. (Lacireno-Paquet, Holyoke, Moser, & Henig, 2002). In addition, the claim is made that when charter schools, do accept special education students, they tend to accept only those with “mild”’ disabilities. (Rhim &
McLaughlin, 2001).
The available literature suggests that low performing students are more mobile; but when taking that into account, low performing students are not more likely to leave their charter school than higher performing students. (Anderson, 2017). This contradicts the theory that charter schools may “push out” students who are not performing at higher standards. Research completed by Angrist, Parag, and Walters (2013) regarding charter lotteries in Massachusetts suggests that applicants to charter schools are less likely to require special education services or
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qualify for free or reduced lunch, and they generally have higher baseline tests scores. Thus, it is possible that some families are less likely to apply to charter schools rather than their children being denied admission or being pushed out by charter schools.
The situation in Colorado is not much different. A report completed by the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that in Colorado, there was a 3% difference between the percent of special education students served in charter schools and neighborhood schools (GAO, 2012). Research completed by a University of Colorado professor described a gap in the number of students in special education that existed in the 2012-2013 school year in Denver Public Schools between neighborhood schools and charter schools (Winters, 2015). This difference increased as students progress through elementary and middle school. The study found a gap of 1.8% in kindergarten (7.7% special education students in neighborhood schools vs. 5.9% in charter schools) and a 5.8% disparity in eighth grade (14.2% special education students in neighborhood vs. 8.4% in charter school). Study findings suggest that the “counseling out” of students do not seem to be a significant factor in the gap, but instead families with a child with a disability are less likely to apply to charter schools within the Denver Public Schools (Winter, 2015). In a similar study conducted in Denver and New York City charter schools found no evidence that low-performing students are more likely to exit their schools than students in traditional schools. (Winters, Clayton & Carpenter, 2016).
The Colorado Department of Education reports that charter schools continue to see a relatively constant gap of between 3.5 - 4 percentage points in representation in charter schools between 2001 and 2015. Figure 2 illustrates the gap in enrollment of special education students in Colorado (Colorado Department of Education, 2016).
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They conclude the report by noting that the reason for the gap in representation remains unclear and further research is needed to determine those factors that are at play (Colorado Department of Education, 2016).
English Language Learners.
As noted previously, as public schools, charter schools are required to adhere to all federal statutes, rules, and regulations relating to the education of all students, including English Language Learners (ELL). Pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 19649, they must take affirmative steps to ensure that students with limited English proficiency can meaningfully participate in their educational programs and services. In addition, the Equal Education Opportunities Act,10 enacted that same year, confirmed that public schools, including charter
9 42 U.S.C. §2000d to d-7 (prohibiting race, color, and national origin discrimination in any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance).
10 20 U.S.C. § 1703(f).
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schools, must act to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation by students in their instructional programs.
In 1974, the United States Supreme Court unanimously decided that the lack of
supplemental language instruction in public school for students with limited English proficiency
violated the Civil Rights Act of 196411. The Court demanded that public schools make all
necessary changes to provide equal education to non-English speaking students. In support of its
majority ruling, Justice Marshall wrote that:
... [T]here is no equality of treatment [between ELL students and non-ELL students] merely by providing students with the same facilities, textbooks, teachers, and curriculum; for students who do not understand English are effectively foreclosed from any meaningful education.
(414 US 563, 566).
Despite the legal requirement that non-English speaking students be provided with a free and appropriate public education, as well as the fact that this population is the fastest growing group in the school-age population, (Buckley & Sattin-Bajaj, 2011), ELL students are significantly underrepresented in our nations charter schools. A review conducted by Anderson (2017) that examined the available evidence on selective enrollment in U.S. charter schools cites a number of studies that indicate that charter schools tend to serve a lower proportion of ELL’s than their “host” districts or nearby schools. According to one of the studies mentioned, META, (2009), “ELL’s are ‘conspicuously’ missing from Massachusetts charter schools.” (Anderson, 2017. P. 538.) Another study, conducted by Lacireno-Pacquet, Holyoke, and Moser (2002), found that “market oriented charter schools serve fewer ELL’s than [the DC Schools District]”)(p.1). After reviewing the available literature and reported studies regarding the
11 Lau v Nichols, 414 US 563 (1974).
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enrollment patterns for ELLs between charter schools and neighborhood schools, Anderson concludes that ELLs are, in fact, underserved in charter schools, but that any gap that may exist may be attributed to parents selecting schools and not charter schools selecting students.
Linguistically diverse families are at an inherent disadvantage when it comes to navigating school of choice programs. A study completed in New York City by Buckley and Sattin-Bajaj (2011) aimed to determine if ELLs were underrepresented in charter schools. Their research suggested that ELLs are significantly underrepresented in New York Charter schools. For example, in the South Bronx, there were 21.6% of ELL’s in the district public school vs. 9% of ELLs in nearby charter schools (Buckley & Sattin-Bajaj, 2011). However, the authors do not provide any perspective as to why ELL families do not participate in charter schools and what barriers may exist that contribute to enrollment imbalances.
Winters (2014) attempted to determine if there is, in fact, an “ELL gap” in enrollment across the charter and neighborhood schools, and if so, why that gap exists. His paper used longitudinal student-level data to explain the ELL gap between New York City charter and neighborhood schools. His key findings included that while a gap did exist, the gap was not primarily due to student mobility between charter schools and traditional schools nor out of New York City entirely.
Winters concluded that the gap was not due to any enrollment data evidence of “counseling out”, but because ELL students were significantly less likely to enroll in charter schools in gateway grades than non-ELL students. The reason, he surmised, was that parents of ELL students simply selected traditional schools over charter schools under the belief that traditional schools would provide their children with better services than charter schools (2014).
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Eastman, Anderson and Boyles (2016) also concluded that charter schools consistently under serve ELL students which continue to contribute to the achievement gap. They contend that charter schools selectively advertise and the need to navigate the marketplace for real choice presents a real disadvantage for some families.
In 2015, the California Charter Schools Association issued a report of a comprehensive research project conducted on ELL student enrollments and academic achievement in California’s charter schools (CCSA, 2015). They reported that their analysis supported two major findings. First, that ELL student enrollment is lower at charter schools with the size of the gap depending upon the charter type, urban vs rural location of the charter, and grade levels; and, second, data compiled over several years indicate that, in general, ELL students perform better in charter schools than in traditional schools.
The second finding is particularly intriguing as it suggests that although ELL students are underserved in charter schools, ELL students who do attend charter schools have a better chance of improving their performance. In support of this finding, the CCSA (2015) reported on the research conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University in which their research confirmed that ELL students at charter schools performed better in reading and math than ELL students attending traditional schools. (CCSA, 2015).
If ELL students do, in fact, perform better in charter schools than in their host neighborhood schools, as some literature indicates, then it becomes even more important to analyze the relative representation rates of ELL students in charter schools compared to neighborhood schools. And, perhaps more importantly, to determine why such gaps exist and how can they be closed. If parents and guardians of ELL students attending neighborhood schools are made aware that their children will perform better academically in a charter school, it
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is only logical to assume that they would do so. If they don’t send their children to charter schools then it becomes essential to determine if there are barriers that prevent them from making the logical “choice” for their children.
The Colorado Department of Education reports that during the 2015-2016 school year, ELL students represented 15.4% (or 16,789 students) of the charter school population in Colorado. By comparison, the statewide population was 13.87%. Figure 3 summarizes the data for the attendance of ELL students in charter schools compared to the total ELL population in Colorado between 2011 to 2016.
It is interesting to note that in Colorado, the gap between enrollment of ELL students in charter schools and non-charter schools was reduced between 2011 and 2013 and completely reversed by 2016.
Ethnic Minorities.
Despite attempts to desegregate schools in the United States after the Brown vs. Board of Education United States Supreme Court decision, schools in the U.S. continue to be segregated by race. Casey (2014) maintains that race and class segregation are features of the American
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educational system and the charter model exacerbates the problem by intensifying the move toward greater segregation.
The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA, 2012) maintains that in virtually every state and large metropolitan areas of our nation, “charter schools are more racially isolated than traditional public schools” (p. 40) and lament that while charter schools have the potential to create innovative models with highly successful publicly funded school programs, there is little doubt that charter schools have fallen short in seeking and attaining goals for meeting the needs of integrated diverse populations.
Frankenberg & Lee (2003) compared the racial composition of charter schools with that of all non-charter public schools using data from the National Center for Education Statistics 2000-01 Common Core of Data (CCD). They analyzed data from sixteen states that had total statewide charter enrollments of at least 5,000 students. Charter school students from these states accounted for 95.4% of the entire U.S. charter school population. Their study found that charter schools in most of the states studied enroll disproportionately higher percentages of minority students, particularly African-American students. Specifically, they found that seventy percent of all Black charter school students attend intensely segregated minority schools compared to 35% of Black students attending neighborhood schools. Latino charter school students were found to be less segregated than their Black counterparts.
Frankenberg & Lee are not alone in concluding that charter schools have increased segregation in our nation’s schools. Eastman, Anderson and Boyels (2016) note that charter schools are responsible for “destabilizing one of the most important public institutions.” (p. 79). Logan & Burdick (2015) cite a number of studies that support the proposition that parental
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choice is responsible for a less racially diverse student population while acknowledging that “the extent of this effect varies across different states and districts” (p. 325).
Whitehurst, Reeves, and Rodrigue (2016) issued a report on their research on the extent of school segregation and the relationship between academic achievement and segregation by income and race. While agreeing with previous studies that charter schools are more racially and economically segregated than traditional schools, they report that Black and poor students have dramatically higher levels of achievement than comparable students attending regular public schools.
Indeed, a number of significant studies confirm that attending high-quality charter schools can be significantly beneficial for individual disadvantaged student groups. The CREDO (2013) 26-state study mentioned previously herein is one such study. It reported that “black students ... received significantly more days of learning each year in charters than their virtual twin [neighborhood schools] in both reading and math” (p. 17). Moreover, Blacks and Hispanic students in poverty “gained substantial learning advantage in charter schools compared to their twins in [neighborhood public schools]” (p. 17). Clark, Gleason, Tuttle, and Silverberg (2015) also similarly concluded that charter schools in urban areas or serving more disadvantaged populations had more positive impacts than those in non-urban areas or serving more advantaged populations.
As was the case with ELL students, it becomes important to examine the relative attendance rates of ethnic students at charter schools compared to neighborhood schools since this subgroup of historically disadvantaged students appear to benefit from attendance at charter schools. Charter schools are losing an opportunity to better educate historically disadvantaged students if they continue to allow barriers to access them.
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If charter schools are to be an educational reform that provides an alternative means to broaden access to high quality education, issues of racial/ethnic segregation and practices that create the disturbing patterns of racial isolation in charter schools in many of our states, ... must be closely examined.
(Frankenberg and Lee, 2010, p. 38.)
The Colorado Department of Education (2016) reports that charter schools operating in Colorado during the 2015-2016 school year served 51,052 racial/ethnic minority students, representing 46.9% of the total school enrollment. Figure 4 illustrates the narrowing gap of the representation of minority students in Colorado Charter schools compared to their attendance statewide.
Economically Disadvantaged Students.
Economically disadvantaged students confront intrinsic barriers to access charter schools because of their economic status. Race and economic status are related and may well compound the barriers to access charter schools. Similarly, it is not unusual for the other student characteristics discussed above to be related to each other, and particularly to economic status. Students from economically disadvantaged families may also be members of an ethnic minority,
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be ELLs, or need special education services. For example, the U.S. Department of Education reports that “[i]n the fall of 2015, some 713,000 ELL students were identified as students with disabilities, representing 14.7 percent of the total population enrolled in U.S. public elementary and secondary schools” (2018). Pearson, Wolgemuth, and Colomer (2015) contend that many Hispanic parents facing “triple segregation” based on race, incomes, and language, actually choose to have their children attend highly segregated and low performing schools.
Figure 5 indicates the percentage of students in Colorado who are eligible for free or reduced cost lunches in charter schools and the total state enrollment.
Source: Colorado Department of Education, 2016, p. 36.
Figure 5: Percentage of Students Eligible for Free or Reduced Cost Lunch in Charters and Statewide, 2001 to 2015
The graph shows that the percentage of charter school students who qualify for a free or reduced cost lunch has grown steadily, but the gap has closed by half between 2008 and 2016. Nevertheless, the gap (35.9% in charter schools vs., 41.8% statewide) exists as of 2015.
As is the case with other subgroups of SSPs, economically disadvantaged students are underrepresented in many of the nation’s charter schools, but those who do attend certain charters schools have impressive achievement gains compared to their peers at neighborhood
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schools. The CREDO (2009) supplemental report on school performance in New York stated that “students in poverty enrolled in charter schools do better in reading and about the same in math compared to their counterparts in traditional public schools.” (p. 9). A similar supplemental report of the 2009 CREDO for Colorado, on the other hand, determined that students in poverty enrolled in charter schools perform about the same in both math and reading as their counterparts in traditional public schools. However, the National Charter School Study (CREDO) released in 2013 which updated and supplemented previous national studies reported that students in poverty benefited significantly by attending charter schools. Indeed, they concluded that students with multiple challenges gained a “substantial learning advantage in charter schools” compared to their counterparts in traditional neighborhood schools. (p. 17).
If, in fact, students in poverty actually benefit from attending charter schools, as suggested by the literature, it becomes even more important to determine if economically disadvantaged students in Douglas County are confronted with barriers to access charter schools operated by the DCSD.
Additional Barriers
“In order for charter schools to have a lasting positive impact on America’s system of education, charter school officials must ensure that all students, regardless of extraneous factors, ... are provided equal access.”
(Weiler & Vogel, 2015, p. 38.)
There are extraneous factors and barriers to access charter schools besides being a member of a historically underrepresented student group. These barriers may include enrollment and admission policies, forced volunteerism, mandatory fees, and the lack of transportation. These additional barriers may, in fact, exacerbate the inability of historically underrepresented student groups from attending charter schools. Anderson (2017) reviewed 22 studies of enrollment
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issues related to student achievement in an effort to determine the use of strategic enrollment practices. Although Anderson concluded that the literature documents that special education and ELL students are underserved in charter schools as a whole, charter schools are not purposefully recruiting the best students. Anderson determined that the gap in enrollment between charter schools and neighborhood schools is due in part to selection by families and not by schools. On the other hand, Weiler and Vogel (2015) report that their study of Colorado charter schools reveals that Colorado charter schools have created specific barriers to registration that could impede some students from fully participating in charter schools. The literature, in fact, is replete with critics of charter schools that discuss extraneous factors and additional barriers to access charter schools.
Enrollment and Admission Policies.
Lareau (2016) laments that researchers do not sufficiently consider the precise rules that charter schools use for their admission and enrollment process and the degree to which schools control the choice process. To have a chance to enroll, families and students may be required to navigate application processes that are cumbersome, bureaucratic, complex, unnecessary, and in some instances, illegal. Much of the criticism of charter schools have centered on the admission process used by many charter schools. State laws, in order to ensure non-discrimination in the selection of students, require the use of “blind” random lotteries when demand exceeds capacity. The lottery system, however, is hardly random as students who are not able to navigate the application process are automatically excluded (Fiona, 2010). These students might be homeless, have a parent with a medical condition, or are children of addicts. (Singer, 2017).
Weiler and Vogel (2015) report that some charter school wait lists and lotteries are problematic because of a lack of transparency. Enrollment procedures vary from school to
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school, but some charter schools have a waiting list of students interested in enrolling in a particular school. Levin (1999) too suggested that charter schools should be more transparent with their waitlists to ensure that such lists are not manipulated to enroll the “right” students.
The Los Angeles Times highlighted the problems associated with admission procedures to charter schools in California in a scathing editorial critical of some of the state’s charter schools’ enrollment procedures. They pointed out that some schools required applicants to write five short essays ... [to] “tell us about your family”.” (Times Editorial Board, para. 2). They further reported that schools also required applicant’s parents to submit written essays discussing sensitive and private matters about their child such as medical histories and prescribed medications. They concluded their editorial by stating that these burdensome requirements put low-income students at a disadvantage.
These are not the only enrollment and admission barriers reported in the literature. The Arizona ACLU (2017) disclosed how Arizona charter schools engage in illegal and exclusionary student enrollment practices in a report they issued in 2017. Some of their disclosures included the following: applicants required to supply prior academic records, English-only enrollment documents, presentation of birth certificates, and the requirement for written essays and personal interviews. In addition to these barriers, Reuters documented that schools require family interviews, assessment examinations, academic prerequisites, requirements that applicants document disabilities or special needs, and the submission of teacher recommendations and medical records (Simon, 2013b).
Forced Volunteerism.
The benefits of parental involvement in education have been reported in the literature for decades. The research reported includes: parent involvement at schools, parent-child educational
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discussion, homework help, time management, and parent educational expectations (Smith, Wohlstetter, Kuzin, & De Pedro, 2011). The benefits derived from parental involvement include better grades, attendance, attitudes, expectations, homework completion, and state test results (Smith et al., 2011). Even though these benefits are well known, there are many parents of students who do not become involved in their children’s education for a number of reasons.
Even so, many charter schools throughout our nation require parents to “volunteer” their time. Smith, et al., (2011) found that many charter schools were using “parent contracts” specifying the number of required volunteer hours ranging from 10 to 72 hours annually from each family.
Research completed by Weiler and Vogel (2015) looked at barriers to access charter schools in Colorado using data from 2011. Their data indicated that 73 of the 143 charter schools in 2011 required parental volunteer time with 18% of charter schools requiring between 30 and 40 hours each year. Weiler and Vogel cited research from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (2010) that indicated that many first-generation minority parents work multiple jobs. The authors found that the parental volunteer requirement could be a barrier for some families, especially for families that work full-time or are unable to take off time. They warn that charter schools officials must realize that not all parents can comply with service expectations.
Mandatory Fees.
Charter schools are prohibited from charging tuition or fees due to the fact that charter schools are public schools. In looking at charter schools as a whole in Colorado, Weiler and Vogel (2015) indicated that most Colorado charter school fees do not exceed traditional public school fees. However, they reported that six charter schools in their studies exceeded traditional school fees and that could potentially be a barrier for low socioeconomic status families.
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Various law suits have been filed throughout the country regarding the fees charged at charter schools. For example, in the Florida Hillsborough County School District, the district made national news because of reports of repeated incidents of parents withdrawing their children because they were unable to pay excessive fees at charter schools (Tampa Bay Times, 2013). State courts in Florida have held that charging tuition or excessive registration fees for attendance at a public school is a violation of their state law (Tampa Bay Times, 2013).
Transportation.
Colorado does not legally require charter schools to provide transportation for its charter school students, except as otherwise required by specific state or federal laws (e.g., for students with transportation as a related service on their IEP)12. If, however, the school does plan to provide transportation, the charter school’s application must include a plan that, at a minimum, describes how the school will meet the needs of low-income pupils. Most charter schools do not offer transportation for their students. However, Frankenberg and Lee (2003) suggest that affording free transportation for all students is essential to ensuring that all students can effectively attend charter schools on an equitable basis. The U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos has publicly acknowledged the need to provide transportation in order to get kids to charter schools. She has been quoted as saying, “transportation is key in order to provide students with access to quality options.” (Robles, 2017).
12 22-30.5-105(1)(m), C.R.S.
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CHAPTER III
METHODS
Data Collection
The data used for this study was collected primarily from three sources: the Colorado Department of Education, the results of a comprehensive Community Survey requisitioned by the Douglas County School District (DCSD) Board, and school websites and interviews with school staff.
The Colorado Department of Education.
The Colorado Department of Education provides demographic data for the subgroups of historically disadvantaged students for all school districts in the state. Specifically, these demographic data include special education students, English Language Learners, students who qualify for free or reduced lunch, and ethnic minorities.
A Community Survey Conducted by the DCSD.
Corona Insights was engaged in 2016 by the DCSD to conduct a comprehensive community survey to better “[understand the opinions, priorities, and perceptions of constituency groups regarding public education in Douglas County” (“the Community Survey”). The community survey included 45 Likert scale questions, with many of the questions including subquestions which resulted in well over 100 questions. There was also a few open-ended questions and questions that allowed for the respondent to create their own answer. The questions were created by the researchers after attending town hall meetings, interviewing school board members, and interviewing students and staff (DCSD, n.d.) A total of 10,648 parents and guardians with children enrolled in the DCSD were sent survey forms. The response rate was 23.3%. (DCSD, n.d.). The Community Survey obtained annual income information from parents
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by asking participants to report their income within five income brackets. The DCSD Board, however, chose to only publish responses for three income brackets by consolidating the two lowest and two highest income brackets. I requested that DCSD supplement the survey results by reporting responses broken out by the five original income brackets. However, DCSD would not do so without being paid a large fee to assemble the additional data. Accordingly, responses from households with the lowest incomes were not included separately in this study but are lumped into the results with the next highest income bracket. The inability to review and consider the opinion of parents and guardians of lower income households is truly unfortunate as they may have the opinions that the DCSD should most consider. The failure to report their opinions separately can lead one to believe the DCSD is either not interested in their opinions or are unwilling to consider those opinions.
School Websites and Interviews with School Staff.
In order to fully understand and describe the barriers reported in the Community Survey, school websites were accessed to collect additional information regarding initial enrollment procedures, required parental volunteer hours, mandatory school fees, and transportation availability. Answers to the following questions were sought by accessing information from school websites, requesting information via email, and/or speaking directly with school administrators:
1. What are the school fees charged for each grade?
2. What is the kindergarten tuition?
3. Is there a reduction of fees for kindergarten or school fees if a family qualifies for free and reduced lunch?
4. What parent volunteer hours are required?
5. What transportation is available?
6. What is the admission process?
7. What after school programs are available?
8. Are uniforms required?
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Procedure
Most of the data and information gathered for this study were obtained from websites maintained by individual schools. If the information needed for the study was not available from the websites, telephones calls were made to school administrative staff. If the information requested was still not made available, formal requests were made in accordance with the Colorado Open Records Act, (CORA), §§ 24-72-201, etseq., C.R.S. CORA requests were necessary in only a small number of cases.
Charter schools typically serve students from preschool through eighth grade while traditional elementary neighborhood schools serve students from preschool through 5th or 6th grade. Charter school data used in this study included preschool through 8th grade, except in two cases where the charter school was preschool through 12th grade. Data for neighborhood schools included preschool through 5th or 6th grade. Neighborhood middle schools were not included in the study.
The following information was collected from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) website: the number of special education students in each elementary school (identified as students with a current Individualized Education Program13); the number of students in each elementary school that qualified for free or reduced lunch (qualification was determined by each school using the DCSD Free and Reduced Breakfast/Lunch Program qualifications guidelines);
13 An IEP, or Individualized Education Program, is a legally required document that is developed for each public school child who needs special education. The IEP is created through a team effort and reviewed periodically. An IEP defines the individualized objectives of a child who has been determined to have a disability or requires specialized accommodation, as defined by federal regulations. The IEP is intended to help children reach educational goals more easily than they otherwise would. In all cases the IEP must be tailored to the individual student's needs as identified by the IEP evaluation process, and must especially help teachers and related service providers understand the student's disability and how the disability affects the learning process.
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the number of ELL students in each school (identified as students who are learning in at least two languages); and the number of minority students (non-white students). The data used in this study was for the 2017-2018 schools year except for the data used for the three American Academy charter schools which was for the 2018-2019 school year. The reason for this is that American Academy originally aggregated their data for their three campuses and when asked to report their data separately for each campus, they provided the data for the 2018-2019 schools year.
CDE reported some data as “na” (not available) for a small number of categories in order to not violate student confidentiality. The concern for not reporting the actual enrollment numbers was that a small number of students fell into certain categories making it possible to ascertain the identity of those students. The lowest number of students reported by any school in any category was 16 students. Thus, it was assumed that whenever “na” was reported in any category, the actual number of students was 15 or fewer. To proceed with the analysis and calculations, the data reported as “na” were replaced with “7” as that is approximately half way between 1 and 15.
Data regarding the costs of kindergarten and student fees were collected by reviewing each school’s website or directly questioning school administrators by phone. Additionally, a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request was filed with the DCSD to request that one charter school provide their data separately rather than aggregated for their three campuses. These data were provided following multiple requests and payment of a fee to the school.
All data collected were grouped into three tracts matching the three planning areas created by the DCSD for the administration of all schools within the District.
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Analysis
Descriptive statistics were used to evaluate the differences between the SSPs attending charter schools and non-charter schools. Dissimilarity Index (DI) calculations were used to compare access and as a measure of segregation for SSPs in charter schools compared to noncharter schools within the DCSD. It is most commonly used to measure segregation within a neighborhood, community or city. As a segregation index, it measures the deviation of each location’s SSP composition from the overall population composition. One of the advantages of the use of a DI is its straight forward interpretation. The calculation yields a number between one and zero, where the lower numbers denote less segregation. Thus, the lower the index value, the more closely the school-level proportions of each group mirror the proportions in the entire district. The index shows the proportion of students who would have to transfer schools in order for the schools to equalize the distribution of groups across locations. (Roberto, 2015;
Whitehurst, Reeves, & Rodrigue, 2016).
DI and descriptive statistics were examined from two neighboring school districts with similar sized student populations (the largest school district in Colorado, the Denver Public School District (DPS), and the second largest in Colorado, the Jefferson County Schools District (JCSD)). The DI analyses were also conducted to measure the relative segregation across the three planning areas used by the DCSD. The DI equation used for this analysis was:
D z = 1/2I”j&)-i?]
Where: n = number of tracts or special units
ai = number of SS populations in the tract or special unit AT= total number of individual SS populations in the district bi = total number of non-SS populations within the tract or special unit BT= total number of non-SS populations within the district.
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To determine whether the differences between the SSPs attending charter schools and non-charter schools are statistically significant, the data was subjected to chi-square tests. The following equation was used to calculate the chi-square (X2) values for the various variables investigated.
X2 = X (Observed - Expected)2 Expected
By using a table of critical statistic values for p= 0.05 (95% confidence level) with 1 degree of freedom, X2 values of 3.84 was used for determining whether the differences were statistically significant. Med Calc Statistical Software was used to confirm the calculations of chi-square tests.
To better understand the apparent barriers to access school of choice, the Community Survey data was reviewed and analyzed to determine parental opinions concerning the ability to make real choices about their children’s attendance at schools of choice. For example, parents were questioned whether the availability of transportation was a factor in their school of choice decision. To fully understand and describe the barriers reported in the Community Survey, school websites were viewed to record information regarding initial enrollment procedures, required parental volunteer hours, mandatory school fees, uniform requirements, and transportation availability. When the information was not available on the website, administrative staffs at the schools were contacted by telephone to collect the data. In a small number of cases, a CORA request was completed to access the information required. Similar, but less comprehensive information was collected from the two neighboring school districts discussed above to determine the unique nature of Douglas County School District.
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CHAPER IV
RESULTS
Question 1. Is there a significant difference in the SSPs between charter schools and non-charter schools in the DCSD?
Data collected and reported by the Colorado Department of Education indicate that there are differences in the percentage of SSPs that attend charter schools and non-charter schools in the DCSD. Table 4 shows the disparity in attendance of historically disadvantaged students in charter and non-charter schools in the DCSD.
Table 4 Douglas County Student Populations for Charter and Non-Charter Schools
Charter Neighborhood Difference (Gap)
Percent of Students Who Qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch 4.85% 12.26% 7.41%
Percent of English Language Learners 6.40% 5.54% -0.86%
Percent of Students Receiving Special Education Services 5.88% 14.22% 8.34%
Percent of Ethnic Minorities (Non-White Students) 28.40% 24.50% -3.90%
Source: Colorado Department of Education - 2017-2018 school year.
With the sole exception of the attendance rates of English Language Learners in the North Planning Area, the differences, or gaps, between attendance rates at charter schools and neighborhood schools for all SSPs in the DCSD (including the planning areas and neighboring school districts) were determined to be statistically significant, with the aid of chi-square tests (described in sections below).
To better understand the relative segregation of the different subgroups of historically disadvantaged students within the DCSD, Dissimilarity Indices (DI) were calculated for each
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categorical variable (SSP subgroups), for each planning area within the DCSD, and for Douglas County as a whole, and Jefferson, and Denver counties.
ELL Students.
A summary of the results of statistical analysis completed for attendance data for English Language Learners at charter and non-charter schools is shown in Table 5.
Table 5 - Summary of Results for English Language Learners
Douglas DCSD North DCSD East DCSD West Denver Jefferson
Charter 6.40% 4.78% 8.89% 3.31% 33.12% 4.46%
Neighborhood 5.54% 5.48% 4.56% 6.93% 35.52% 10.72%
Expected 5.86% 5.26% 6.62% 5.83% 35.17% 9.62%
DI 0.0367 0.0305 0.1749 0.1396 0.0133 0.1047
X2 11.83 3.48 99.64 38.43 15.51 309.1
P <0.05 NS <0.05 <0.05 <0.05 <0.05
The data in Table 5 indicates that the DCSD is serving a greater percentage of English Language Learners in its charter schools than its traditional neighborhood schools. Indeed its charter schools have a gap of 0.86% over its traditional neighborhood schools and 0.54% over the percentage of students that would constitute an equal proportion of ELL students14. This positive gap can be attributed to the enrollment numbers of the East Planning Area which reported serving 8.89% of ELL students in its charter schools compared to 4.56% in its traditional neighborhood schools.
The Dissimilarity Index for the DCSD was calculated to be .0367, representing the proportion of students attending charter schools or neighborhood schools that would need to move in order to create a uniform distribution of populations. In this particular case, 3.67% of
14 The “expected percentages” refer to the percentage of SSPs that would need to attend both charter schools and neighborhood schools to achieve a uniform population of the particular SSPs under consideration.
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neighborhood schools (or charter) students would need to transfer in order to achieve a uniform population between charter and neighborhood schools.
The DCSD North Planning Area appears to be the best able to serve an equal proportion of English Language Learners. It has a DI of 0.03 compared to the other two areas which had DIs of 0.14 and 0.17. It should be noted that the data for the North Planning Area relating to ELL students are not statistically significant.
The Denver Public Schools (DPS), compared to the DCSD and the Jefferson County School District (JCSD), appears to be the most successful in creating a uniform distribution of English Language Learners in the attendance percentages between charter and neighborhood schools. Only 1.3% of students in either the charter schools or neighborhood schools would need to transfer to create a completely uniform distribution of English Language Learners within the DPS.
Special Education Students.
A summary of the results of statistical analysis completed for attendance data for Special Education Students at charter and non-charter schools is shown in Table 6.
Table 6 - Summary of Results for Special Education Students
Douglas DCSD North DCSD East DCSD West Denver Jefferson
Charter % 5.88% 5.57% 6.70% 4.35% 9.78% 6.67%
Neigh.% 14.22% 13.25% 15.33% 14.82% 10.66% 17.39%
Expected 11.13% 10.82% 11.23% 11.63% 10.53% 15.61%
DI 0.1966 0.1720 0.2159 0.2160 0.0117 0.1125
X2 607.44 214.90 244.79 172.34 5.03 604.29
P <0.05 <0.05 <0.05 <0.05 <0.05 <0.05
These results suggest that the charter schools in the DCSD under serve special education students. Both the DPS and JCSD do a much better job of creating a uniform distribution of special education students among its charter and neighborhood schools than the DCSD. The
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percentage difference in the enrollment of special education students in the DCCSD charter and neighborhood schools was 8.34%. The Dissimilarity Index for the DCSD was determined to be 0.1966 suggesting that almost 1 in 5 students would need to transfer to make the percentage of special education students equal between their neighborhood and charter schools. Specifically, 810 special education students currently attending neighborhood schools would need to move to charter schools.
All charter schools in the planning areas in the DCSD fail to serve the requisite number of special education students to evenly serve a proportionate level of special education students in each planning area.
Student Eligible for Free or Reduced Lunch.
A summary of the results of statistical analysis completed for attendance data for students eligible for Free or Reduced Cost Lunches at charter and non-charter schools is shown in Table 7.
Table 7 - Summary of Results for Free or Reduced Cost Lunch Students
Douglas DCSD North DCSD East DCSD West Denver Jefferson
Charter % 4.85% 4.66% 5.34% 3.96% 60.97% 15.34%
Neigh.% 12.26% 8.73% 13.10% 18.60% 54.75% 35.23%
Expected 9.52% 7.44% 9.41% 14.13% 55.70% 31.72%
DI 0.2006 0.1277 0.2269 0.2556 0.0326 0.1333
X2 550.51 84.64 231.08 284.99 90.9 1249.01
P <0.05 <0.05 <0.05 <0.05 <0.05 <0.05
These results suggest, again, that the DCSD charter schools are under serving SSPs by a statistically significant amount. Based on this analysis, the DCSD charter schools are under serving students who are eligible for free or reduced cost lunches. The disparity between the percent of students served by neighborhood schools and charter schools is 7.41%. The DI was calculated to be .2006; meaning that 20% or 707 ELL students would need to transfer from
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neighborhood school to charter schools - more students than are currently served by charter schools in the DCSD (666).
Conversely, the DPS appears to be doing a good job of serving students eligible for free or reduced cost lunches. With a Dissimilarity Index of 0.0326, it is clear that DPS charter schools are serving students eligible for free or reduced cost lunches relatively well. Indeed, the charter schools in DPS serve a larger percent of these students than its neighborhood schools.
Ethnic Minority Students.
A summary of the results of statistical analysis completed for attendance data for minority students at charter and non-charter schools is shown in Table 8.
Table 8 - Summary of Results for Minority Students
Douglas DCSD North DCSD East DCSD West Denver Jefferson
Charter % 28.40% 11.00% 30.62% 20.40% 78.55% 22.25%
Neigh.% 24.50% 11.92% 23.24% 25.18% 72.40% 35.37%
Expected 25.95% 11.58% 26.75% 23.73% 73.31% 33.05%
DI 0.0473 0.0208 0.0939 0.0560 0.0396 0.0863
X2 68.40 7.05 90.98 20.38 118.78 531.79
P <0.05 <0.05 <0.05 <0.05 <0.05 <0.05
These results suggest that charter schools in all areas studied do a better job serving minority students than other SPPs investigated. In fact, this is the only SPP that DCSD charter schools serve relatively well. It should be noted that the charter schools in the DPS serve a greater percentage of minority students than neighborhood schools. That is equally true of the charter schools in the DCSD East Planning Area. The DPS continues to lead the other school districts in serving SSPs in their charter schools in a relatively proportional manner as their neighborhood schools.
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Question 2. To what extent do SSPs confront barriers to access charter schools in Douglas County?
Barriers to Access Charter Schools.
The Community Survey asked parents and guardians of students in the DCSD to generally rate the quality of education that their children receive. Table 9 shows the results of that request:
Table 9 - Rate the overall quality of education provided.
All Responses Traditional School Charter School
Very Good 21% 20% 24%
Good 46% 46% 49%
Source: Community Survey, Q.7.1
Table 9 shows that 67% of parents and guardians of children attending schools in the DCSD generally rate the quality of education that their children receive to be “very good” or “good”. Another question asked parents and guardians to rate their support for charter schools. Table 10 shows the responses received.
Table 10 -schools. Indicate your support or opposition to charter
All Low Income Special
Responses Families Education
Support 54% 55% 51%
Oppose 16% 14% 16%
Source: Community Survey, Q.10.2
Support for charter schools was indicated by 54% of all respondents with only 16% of them opposing charter schools. These generally positive opinions of charter schools in Douglas County are shared by guardians and parents of children enrolled in special education and in low income households. It is fair to state, therefore, that in general, charter schools have been well
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accepted in Douglas County by parents and guardians of students in the DCSD. Thus, if the charter schools in Douglas County do not serve historically disadvantaged students in the same proportion as the traditional neighborhood schools in Douglas County, it is only logical to assume that there may be barriers that prevent parents and guardians of such students in exercising their choice of schools for their students.
Some of the responses to the Community Survey help explain to some degree the disparity shown by the demographic data and calculated Dissimilarity Indices. For example, one question in the survey asked the parents and guardians of students in charter and non-charter schools: “Do you feel like you have a choice in schools for your child?” The responses given are summarized in Table 11.
Table 11 child? Do you feel like you have a choice in schools for your
Traditional Schools Charter Schools Income <$100K Income >$ 100- < $200K Income >$200
Yes 77% 89% 74% 78% 79%
No 20% 7% 19% 15% 15%
Source: Community Survey, Q.38
A significantly lower percentage of parents and guardians of students attending traditional neighborhood schools feel that they have a choice for their children (.12) compared with the parents with children in charter schools, z =19.103, p = .0001. Results suggest that charter school attendance is associated with higher levels of choice - or at least perceptions of school choice.
Results also indicate that the higher the income, the more parents felt they had a choice of schools for their children. Analyses revealed that a significantly higher percentage of parents at the highest income levels reported feeling they had a choice in schools (.05) than those in the lowest income category, z = 6114, p < .0001. Although the Community Survey sought data from
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households with incomes of less than $50,000, the DCSD Board decided to combine the two lowest quintiles and two highest quintiles and reported results for households with incomes of less than $100,000. The Community Survey did report, however, that 21% of all households with incomes of less than $100,000 actually had incomes of less than $50,000. One can only speculate how those households answered the question regarding their having a real choice in schools for their children. Regardless, significantly more families in the lowest income did not feel they had a choice in schools for their children.
Annual household income is not the only factor in parental school choices for their children. The Community Survey reported that there were, in fact, other factors that parents and guardians considered to be important. For example, Table 12 summarizes the responses received to the question: “Was the quality of educational programming a factor in making a school choice for your children?”
Table 12 - Was quality of educational programming a
factor in choosing school or program?
Traditional School Charter School
Major 47% 87%
Moderate 25% 9%
Source: Community Survey, Q.37.1
Parents and guardians of children in traditional schools reporting that the quality of educational programs was a major or moderate factor in choosing a school for their children constituted 82% of the total respondents. This percentage is significantly lower than that for parents and guardians with children in charter schools (.14), z=18.151, p = .0001.
The final area examined from the Community Survey related to the perception that charter schools have a positive impact upon the quality of education in the school district. Just over 90% of parents and guardians with children in charter schools reported that charter schools
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have had a positive impact upon the quality of education in Douglas County. A significantly smaller percentage (46%) of parents and guardians with children in traditional neighborhood schools had similar positive opinions of the impact of charter schools in Douglas County, z=43.973, p= .001. This disparity may be very telling. If parents and guardians are not satisfied with the quality of education their children receive, why don’t they choose to send their children to a different school? The answer may well be that there are barriers that affects their decision to freely choose the best educational setting for their children.
Admission Procedures.
Admission procedures varied between the 21 different charter schools in Douglas County. Seven of the charter schools use the “open enrollment” process facilitated by the DCSD. This process allows families and guardians to apply to up to four different schools located anywhere within the jurisdiction of the DCSD (DCSD, n.d.). The four schools chosen may be the student’s traditional neighborhood school, any other neighborhood school, charter school, online school, or any other school in the DCSD (DCSD, n.d.). Each year admission to preferred or alternate schools is offered based on availability.
If a student is not offered admission to the student’s preferred or alternate school because of a lack of availability, the student is placed in a lottery system or placed on a waitlist until a position becomes available at one of the four schools chosen or when the next annual lottery is completed. The number of enrolled students at charter schools is limited by the schools’ capacity. The lottery system allows charter schools to determine which students from all those interested will be allowed to enroll in the school. Lotteries are held annually either by the individual schools or the DCSD. Data collected from school websites or staff personal indicated that every charter school in the DCSD gives priority to students who attended the kindergarten
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operated by the charter school. In other words, limited spots in a charter school’s first grade are filled on a priority basis by students who attended the charter school’s kindergarten program even before the lottery system is employed to determine eligible students.
All of the charter schools give admission preferences to siblings of current students and current students and some give preferences to children of founding members of the school, children of school board members, district residents, residents of certain feeder schools, and children of alumni. Two typical ways of providing preferences are by moving the preferred applicants to the top of the waitlist or by giving greater weight to the preferred applicant in the lottery process. Table 13 shows the various enrollment practices used by charter schools in Douglas County.
Table 13 - Enrollment Practices for Douglas County Charter Schools
Practices
Maintains a waiting list that is first come first serve 2
Annual lottery facilitated at the school 12
Annual lottery facilitated through the district 7
Preference given to current students including kindergarten 21
Preference given to employees’ children 16
Preference given to siblings of current students 21
Preference given to Founding members of the school’s families. 13
Preference given based on where the student resides. 6
Volunteer Requirements.
All of the charter schools in the DCSD report that they encourage parental volunteer time. Only three charter schools do not require specific time commitments. Three of the charter schools reported that the specific time commitments are reduced for single parents. One charter school reported that if the family did not complete their 30 required hours, they would be sent an invoice for $300. The specific time commitments as explained to me are summarized in Table 14.
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Table14- Parental Volunteering Requirements
Hours Required #
None 3
0-9 Hours None
10-19 Hours 1
20-29 Hours 3
30 or More Hours 11
Specify that there are less hours required for single persons 3
Mandatory Student Fees.
Every charter school in the DCSD requires some fees. In fact, some of the schools refer to the fees as tuition, whereas others state that they are a tuition-free school, but levy fees. The annual fees of charter schools reported in the DCSD range from $20 to $520, with an average of $173. By comparison, traditional neighborhood schools in DCSD charge minimal fees ranging between zero to approximately $25 annually. Table 15 set forth the mandatory fees that are imposed by the various charter schools in the DCSD.
Table 15 - Student Fees - Douglas County School District Charter Schools
1st Grade 2nd Grade 3rd Grade 4th Grade 5th Grade
American Academy- Castle Pines $275 $275 $275 $275 $350
American Academy -Lincoln Meadows $275 $275 $275 $275 $350
American Academy - Parker $275 $275 $275 $275 $350
Ascent Classical Education $75 $75 $75 $100 $100
Aspen View Academy $175 $175 $175 $175 $75
Ben Franklin Academy $170 $170 $170 $170 $170
Challenge to Excellence $95 $95 $95 $95 $105
DCS Montessori $65 $65 $65 $135 $135
Leman Academy $20 $20 $20 $20 $20
North Star Academy $100 $100 $100 $100 $100
Parker Core Knowledge $144 $109 $105 $196 $166
Global Village $150 $150 $150 $150 $150
Renaissance Elementary $470 $470 $470 $520 $520
Lone Tree Elementary $200 $200 $200 $200 $200
Parker Performing Arts School $135 $135 $135 $160 $160
Platte River Academy $176 $187 $193 $201 $221
Skyview Academy $185 $185 $185 $185 $185
STEM School $200 $200 $200 $200 $200
World Compass $200 $200 $200 $200 $200

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The Community Survey specifically asked if “costs associated with the school” was a factor when choosing a program or school for their children? The responses are summarized in
Table 16.
Table 16 - Was cost a factor in choosing a school or program?
Income <$100K Income >$100 to < $200K Income $200+
Major 17% 10% 8%
Moderate 20% 17% 13%
Source: Community Survey, Q.37.8
Households with lower incomes consider the costs associated with schools to be more important factors in making a school choice for their children than households with the highest incomes, z = 19.566,p < .001. In fact, 37% of households with the lowest incomes considered costs to be a major or moderate factor in making a choice while only 21% of households in the highest income bracket.
Cost of Kindergarten.
The vast majority of traditional neighborhood schools charge less for full time kindergarten than charter schools. The average fees at charter schools were $4100 per year (one school was free and excluded from the average), whereas the average neighborhood school cost of full-time kindergarten was $3300 per school year (three schools were free and excluded from the average). Additionally, neighborhood schools waive the fees for families that qualify for free or reduced lunch, whereas there were no charter schools that waive the fees. When the charter school staff were questioned if the fees, or any part of them, are waived for students from households eligible for free or reduced cost lunch, one staff member responded that “some scholarships are available” and two other staff members indicated that it “depends.” They were not, however, able to explain how scholarships are awarded or upon what the waivers “depend.” Students from low income households clearly face a real barrier in order to attend kindergarten
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in either charter or neighborhood schools. Three or four thousand dollars of disposable income for the cost to send a child to kindergarten is likely impossible for many low income families.
As noted above, all the charter schools in the DCSD give an admission preference to current students, including students that attend their kindergarten program. Thus, the ability to send a child to a charter school kindergarten program becomes extremely important, and practically essential, if a parent wishes to send their child to a charter school. If a family does not have the financial resources to send their child to a $4,000 a year kindergarten program, their chances of being able to exercise their right to “choose” a charter school for their child’s elementary education is greatly reduced.
Tables 17 and 18 present the cost of kindergarten charged by charter schools in the
DCSD.
Table 17 - Cost of Kindergarten - Charter Schools
Cost *
American Academy- Castle Pines $4,320 $4,320
American Academy -Lincoln Meadows $4,320 $4,320
American Academy - Parker $4,320 $4,320
Ascent Classical Education $4,000 “Depends”
Aspen View Academy $4,000 $4,000
Ben Franklin Academy $4,300 $4,300
Challenge to Excellence $4,200 $4,200
DCS Montessori $5,000 “Some Scholarships Available”
Leman Academy $3050 $3050
North Star Academy $4,650 $4,650
Parker Core Knowledge $4,600 $4,600
Global Village Free Free
Renaissance Elementary $3,610 $3,610
Lone Tree Elementary $3,500 $3,500
Parker Performing Arts School $4,050 $4,050
Platte River Academy $5,000 $5,000
Skyview Academy $4,100 “Depends”
STEM School $4,100 $4,100
World Compass $3,600 $3,600
* Cost if the family qualifies for free and reduced lunch

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Table 18 - Cost of Kindergarten
Annual Fee Number of Charter Schools Number of Neighborhood Schools
No Fees 1 3
$2000-$2999 0 2
$3000-$3499 1 17
$3500-$3999 3 21
$4000 - $4999 12 0
$5000 or More 2 0
Other Associated Fees.
In addition to fees charged, attendance at charter schools requires other expenses such as the cost of mandatory school uniforms and the cost of field trips and experiential programs. Every charter school in the DCSD requires their students to wear prescribed uniforms. No traditional neighborhood schools require its students to uniforms. Many of the charter schools require or “suggest” that students participate on overnight field trips. For example, DCSD Montessori students take a trip in 7th grade with anticipated costs of $1300 and in 8th grade; the anticipated cost is $2500.
Transportation.
There are no district buses provided to students in any of the charter schools within the DCSD and all charter schools require parents or guardians to drop off and pick up their students. Conversely, all neighborhood schools provide free transportation to their students. Additionally, students with some disabilities that require busing to accommodate wheelchairs or other medical needs to attend school may not be able to be transported by their parents or guardians.
The Community Survey did reveal an important factor that some parents consider when making a choice of school for their children - “Does the availability of transportation to and
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from school affect the choice you made for your children?” Table 19 summarizes the responses received:
Table 19 - Was transportation to and from school a factor in
choosing a school or program?
Income
Traditional School Charter School <$100K >$100 to <$200K $200K+
Major 17% 10% 22% 15% 15%
Moderate 20% 17% 12% 12% 13%
Source: Community Survey, Q.37.6
Parents and guardians with children in traditional neighborhood schools that considered the availability of transportation to and from school as a major or moderate factor in making a school choice for their children constituted 37% of the respondents. Only 27% of parents with children in charter schools felt the same way about transportation, a significantly lower percentage, z=10.317, p < .0001. A more direct question was asked in the Community Survey regarding transportation. It asked respondents to give their opinion on the need to improve the transportation fleet or eliminate the transportation fee. Table 20 summarizes the responses
received.
Table 20 - Opinion on improving transportation fleet and eliminating transportation fee.
Traditional School Charter School Income <$100K Income $1 00K to $200K Income $200K+
I believe it is needed and would approve a tax increase. 37% 33% 38% 37% 33%
I believe it is needed, but would NOT approve a tax increase. 32% 31% 34% 31% 29%
I believe that it is NOT needed, but would support a tax increase. 5% 4% 4% 5% 7%
I believe that it is NOT needed and I would NOT support a tax increase. 15% 16% 12% 15% 20%
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Not surprisingly, a significantly higher percentage of parents and guardians with children in charter schools support improving the transportation fleet and eliminate transportation fees than parents with children attending traditional neighborhood schools, z=4237, p < .0001. Also, households in the lowest income category favor improving the transportation system at a much greater percentage than those in the highest income households, z=5.297, p = .0001.
Other Barriers.
In addition to the above discussed barriers, there are some additional barriers that are less measurable. For example, some charter school applications specify that students must be toilet trained in order to attend their kindergarten program. This is a considerable barrier for students with certain disabilities. No traditional neighborhood school has this requirement. Some charter schools ask specific questions relating to the applicant’s learning issues. Other charter schools insist on being able to review the applicant’s 504 or IEP plan prior to admission. Ascent Classical Education stated that applicants could not be accepted if they had previously been expelled from another school within the last 12 months.
Research Question 3. Are the enrollment rates of SSPs in the DCSD charter and neighborhood schools similar to the enrollment rates in neighboring school districts? Or, is the DCSD unique?
The demographics of the Douglas County population are certainly different than the demographic character of the general population. Table 1 shows how the average resident of Douglas County is different than the average resident of Denver, Colorado or the United States. Douglas County is certainly unique considering the demographic characteristics of its residents. However, the results of this research study indicate that the Douglas County School District (DCSD) is not unique when comparing the enrollment rates of SSPs in charter and neighborhood
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schools in the DCSD with the Denver School System (DPS) or with the Jefferson County School District (JCSD).
The results indicate that there is, in fact, a significant difference in the attendance rates of certain SSPs attending charter schools and neighborhood schools in the DCSD. The results are not unlike the disparities reported by the Denver School System (DPS) and the Jefferson County School District (JCSD). Tables 5 through 8 show the comparisons between the three school districts in their ability to serve English Language Learners, Special Education Students, low income students, and minority students.
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CHAPTER V
DISCUSSION
I began this research paper with certain impressions and opinions regarding the rapid expansion of charter schools in Douglas County. My main concerns and opinions at that time were that students attending charter schools perform better and thus are provided more educational opportunities than students attending traditional neighborhood schools; that the rise of charter schools would compete with traditional neighborhood schools for students and cause neighborhood schools to close; and, that charter schools, at least in Douglas County, would cater to its overwhelmingly white and wealthy inhabitants and neglect to provide an appropriate education to Special Student Populations (SSPs). My research concentrated upon the last concern: whether there is a significant difference in the enrollment of SSPs between charter schools and non-charter schools in the DCSD and what barriers, if any, are confronted by SSPs to attend the charter schools in the DCSD.
While a comparison of academic performance of students attending charter schools versus traditional neighborhood schools was not the main subject of my research, the literature review I conducted as part of this research leads me to conclude that the reported research on the comparative performance of students attending charter schools versus traditional neighborhood schools is inconclusive. Much of the literature indicates that comparisons of academic performance of students attending charter schools and students attending traditional neighborhood schools are inconclusive, ( Xiang & Tarasawa (2015)), are of unequal quality (Cohodes (2018)), or are inherently difficult to research (Malkus (2016)).
There are studies that conclude that some historically disadvantaged students benefit from attending charter schools. For example, the most comprehensive research into this issue has
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been the Stanford Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) studies (2009, 2013). The report issued in 2013 was an updated and expanded view of charter school performance in the United States. The participating states educate 95% of the nation’s charter school students. The report concluded that students living in poverty, Black students, Hispanic students, English language learner (ELL) students and special education students “find better outcomes in charter schools.” (p. 85). Of particular interest was their conclusion that charter schools show “steady progress in the performance of the charter school sector” (p. 87). Similarly, Clark, Gleason, Tuttle, and Silverberg (2014) found that charter schools in urban areas had more positive impacts upon disadvantaged students than charter schools in non-urban areas. The debate regarding the relative student academic performances of students attending charter schools versus students attending traditional neighborhood schools will certainly continue.
With respect to special education students in the DCSD, 5.88% of charter school students received special education services compared to 14.22% of students in traditional neighborhood schools. The DI for special education students was .1966, suggesting that almost one in five special education students attending neighborhood schools would need to transfer to charter schools to evenly distribute students in charter and traditional neighborhood schools. These findings are consistent with the literature that confirms that students with disabilities continue to be underrepresented in charter schools. (e.g., COPPA, 2012)
Families interested in choosing to have their children attend a charter school need to be "in-the-know” of the applicable enrollment process long before their child is old enough to attend an elementary school. This system may be a barrier for families that are new to the area or are unaware that a lottery may be occurring in December for the following school year. Additionally, families that move to the area over the summer or outside of the lottery time
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period, or are simply unaware of waitlists maintained by charter schools will likely not be enrolled in a charter school. As noted by Frankenberg and Siegel-Hawley (2009), “[t]he ability to choose assumes ready exposure to available school options.” (p. 6).
The findings of this study have identified other specific barriers that make it difficult or impossible for some families to exercise their right to “choose” a charter school for the education of their children. Examples of these barriers include levying excessive fees to attend a charter school, failure to provide free transportation to and from charter schools, and requiring students to dress in relatively expensive uniforms. These findings are not a surprise as the literature suggested that such barriers would be encountered. As noted previously, the literature is replete with critics of charter schools that discuss extraneous factors and additional barriers to access charter schools by historically disadvantaged students. See e.g., Winters (2015); Frankenberg, Lee, and Minow (2003); Anderson (2017); and Weiler & Vogel, (2015).
The fees charged by charter schools may be a barrier for families that can’t afford them. For example, a family with 3 children (grades 2nd, 4th and 5th) planning to attend the American Academy in Parker would be required to pay $900 in addition to the cost of school uniforms. By comparison, at a nearby neighborhood school, Pine Lane Elementary, the same family would only need to pay annual fees totaling of $45 for all three children. In addition, traditional neighborhood schools often waive any required fees if the family qualifies for free lunch or reduced cost lunches for their children. It is unclear if any charter schools in DCSD are authorized to waive any of their fees even if the family is eligible for free or reduced cost lunches. When asked if fees can be waived for students that qualified for free and reduced lunch, charter school employees were uniformly unable to provide clear answers. For example, when asked if scholarships were available, one school staff member replied that she was aware of some
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scholarships having been granted in the past, but was not aware of any process for applying for a scholarship. Another administrative staff member shared that she was not sure if scholarships were available, but would ask her superiors at the school.
The lack of publicly funded and provided transportation for charter school students certainly creates a barrier for students who cannot rely upon a parent, guardian, or other persons to take them and pick them up at school every day. This is consistent with the conclusions reached by Frankenberg and Lee (2003). The bottom line is that a family can hardly “choose” a charter school for their children if they do not have a way to get them there. Even if a potential charter school student is not a member of a historically underrepresented student group, the lack of transportation to the school of his or her choice could be the ultimate barrier to access a school of their choice. The lack of transportation should not be a barrier that prevents any student from attending the type of school that best meets his or her needs.
The most troubling barrier encountered by this study is the high cost of the fees charged by charter schools for students to attend their kindergarten programs. Traditional neighborhood schools, if they offer a kindergarten program, charge lower attendance fees and waive fees for students that qualify for free or reduced lunch. The high fees levied by charter schools not only discourage or outright prohibit students from low income households from attending kindergarten programs at charter schools; they present a compounding problem and barrier to access those charter schools. As previously noted, all of the charter schools within the DCSD give preference to applicants if they are currently attending their charter school. This includes attendance in their kindergarten program. Thus, to improve one’s chances of being accepted to a charter school one merely needs to attend the charter school’s kindergarten program, if it can be afforded.
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DCSD is unique in the sense that it provides services to students from relatively wealthy households when compared to other school districts. However, it is apparently not unique in its failure to provide its educational services equally to historically disadvantaged students within its catchment areas. While the State of Colorado in general has closed the gap between the percentage of ELL and minority students attending charter and non-charter schools (Figures 3 & 4), the DCSD continues to fail to provide educational opportunities for special education students and students from low income households in its charter schools. The Denver Public Schools (DPS) is doing a much better job of providing services to SPPs, even though their students generally come from lower income urban households. DPS has been much more successful in closing the gap between attendance rates of SSPs at their charter schools and neighborhood schools. In fact, their charter schools have more SSPs than their traditional neighborhood schools. And important difference between DCSD and DPS which may help explain their success is that DPS uses a standard and universal application process for their school of choice admissions process. In addition, and most importantly, DPS provides free transportation to both their charter and traditional neighborhood schools. With respect to attendance in their full-time kindergarten programs, all DPS schools charge a fee on a sliding scale depending upon household income. Many schools in DPS, including charter schools and traditional neighborhood schools require students to wear school uniforms, but the uniforms consist of inexpensive t-shirts emblazoned with the school logo and colors. Neighborhood schools that require some form of uniforms constituted 37% of the respondents, while 66% of charter schools require some form of uniform.
These findings suggests that the DCSD would be wise to determine how the DPS is better able to equally serve SPPs in its charter schools. The Jefferson County School District (JCSD),
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whose demographics are somewhat similar to Douglas County, does a better job than the DCSD in equally serving some of their SPPs and a worse job for other SPPs. They too should look to DPS for insight on how to better serve SSPs in their district.
Limitations
A number of limitations of this research bear mention. Some of these relate to the nature of the data used in this study. First, not all schools reported their data in a manner that could be properly compared to data supplied by other schools. For example, some neighborhood schools serve students from kindergarten through 5th or 6th grade. Charter schools typically serve students from kindergarten through 8th grade. Compounding the problem is the fact that newly established charter schools may not serve students through 8th grade until they have been established for a number of years. Since the focus of this study was to compare enrollment numbers of charter schools and neighborhood schools, the inability to compare “apples to apples” most certainly affected the results in some fashion.
Second, the lack of full cooperation by some school administrators impeded efforts to gather needed data and may have had an impact upon the results reported herein. For example, the Community Survey provided extensive and relevant information regarding the opinions of parents and guardians relating to their perceived ability, or inability, to make school choices for their children. The survey asked respondents for information regarding their household incomes and created five income groups. The results of the survey questions were reported only after the top two and bottom two groups were lumped together so that only three income groups were reported. As such, analyses could not be made for the lowest and highest income levels.
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Conclusions and Future Directions
A new charter school is scheduled to open in Douglas County in 2019 which will implement the first lottery focused on enrolling and serving more educationally disadvantaged students. Apex Community Charter School will ensure that their student population will include at least 10% of students with special needs, are English Language Learners, and/or qualify for free and reduced lunches (APEX, n.d.). This is a promising move on the part of DCSD as there are potential benefits of attending charter schools for some groups of SSPs. However, care should be taken that Apex does not become the place for SSPs to attend school thereby increasing the segregation and isolation of SSPs.
To reduce barriers in the application process DCSD should require all charter schools to use a standard and uniform application process through the district, similar to DPS, and remove the “waiting lists” maintained by individual schools. This would reduce concerns regarding transparency and ensure the process is equitable for all applicants.
As with their traditional public school counterparts, charter schools are required by Section 504 and the ADA to ensure equal educational opportunities to all students with disabilities and to break down and eliminate systematic barriers to learning (GAO, 2012).
Charter schools can accomplish this through the development and implementation of policies and practices, innovative strategies, and collaboration with other charters as well as traditional public schools (COPAA, 2012).
A final recommendation to the DCSD is that the Community Survey be revised by disaggregating the income profiles of respondents by reporting the lowest income quintile to consider the responses given by parents and guardians that have an annual household income of less than $50,000. Such an exercise might identify actual barriers to access by students from low
61


income households and to provide much needed insight into the reasons such families do not “choose” to send their children to charter schools. It is difficult to understand why the DCSD chose not to publicly reveal and publish those responses unless the responses proved to challenge the validity of the school of choice movement in the DCSD. That may also help explain the exorbitant fee the district tried to levy when the data was requested as part of a CORA request to complete this study.
If charter schools in Douglas County are to continue to succeed in providing high quality educational services, and compete with traditional neighborhood schools, they must address the inequalities that exist in access for historically disadvantaged students including ELL, special education, minority, and economically disadvantaged students. There certainly is no economic rationale for not addressing these inequalities in an affluent school district such as the DCSD.
62


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IS SCHOOL OF CHOICE A CHOICE FOR ALL
IN DOUGLAS COUNTY, COLORADO? by
JENNIFER WORCESTER B.A., University of Colorado, 1998 M.A., University of Colorado, 2001
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Psychology School of Psychology Program
2019


This thesis for the Doctor of Psychology degree by Jennifer Worcester has been approved for the School Psychology Program by
Franci Crepeau-Hobson, Chair Bryn Harris Rachel Stein
Date: May 18,2019
11


Worcester, Jennifer (PsyD, School Psychology Program)
Is School of Choice a Choice for all in Douglas County, Colorado?
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Franci Crepeau-Hobson
ABSTRACT
School of choice has been touted as a solution to the alleged decay of the American educational system. Every year more and more “choice schools” (charter, magnet, expeditionary, and others) open across the United States. Although these schools are subject to the same federal legal requirements as traditional public schools to provide a free and appropriate public education, there is a substantial body of research suggesting that inequalities exist in the representation and performance of students who attend choice and neighborhood schools. The Douglas County School District in Colorado has been on the forefront of the choice school movement. It is unique among school districts offering charter schools due to the relatively high socioeconomic status of its residents. Historically, most charter schools have replaced low achieving schools or have been opened in high poverty urban areas. Accordingly, there is minimal research on how charter schools function in affluent communities and how accessible they are to all families in the communities they serve. The purpose of this study was to determine if there is a significant difference in the population of subgroups of historically disadvantaged students at charter schools compared to neighborhood schools due to barriers causing a lack of real choice for some families in Douglas County. The result of this research indicates that there is, in fact, a significant difference. The gap in attendance rates is especially true for students who qualify for free or reduced cost lunch and special education students.
This form and consent of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication.
Approved: Franci Crepeau-Hobson
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I. INTRODUCTION............................................................. 1
II. LITERATURE REVIEW........................................................3
The Development of Charter Schools in the United States..................... 3
Colorado.....................................................................4
Douglas County...............................................................4
Charter School Performance...................................................8
Barriers to Access by Special Student Populations...........................12
Special Education Students..............................................14
English Language Learners.............................................. 18
Ethnic Minorities.......................................................22
Economically Disadvantaged Students.................................... 25
Additional Barriers.....................................................27
Enrollment and Admission Policies.................................28
Forced Volunteer!sm...............................................29
Mandatory Fees................................................... 30
Transportation....................................................31
III METHODS....................................................................32
Data Collection.............................................................32
The Colorado Department of Education....................................32
A Community Survey Conducted by the DCS.................................32
School Websites and Interviews with Staff...............................33
IV


Procedures
34
Analysis.......................................................................36
IV. RESULTS......................................................................38
Differences in Student Populations............................................. 38
ELL Students...............................................................39
Special Education Students.................................................40
Free and Reduced Lunch Students............................................41
Minority Students..........................................................42
Barriers to Access Charter Schools..............................................43
Admission Procedures.......................................................46
Volunteer Requirements.....................................................47
Mandatory Student Fees.....................................................48
Cost of Kindergarten.......................................................49
Other Associated Fees......................................................51
Transportation.............................................................51
Other Barriers.............................................................53
Is Douglas County Unique........................................................53
V. DISCUSSION.................................................................. 55
Limitations............................................................... 60
Conclusions and Future Direction.......................................... 61
REFERENCES........................................................................63
v


LIST OF TABLES
TABLE
I - Population characteristics and demographics - United States, Colorado,
Denver and Douglas County.................................................... 5
2 - Historically underserved subgroups from Colorado charter public schools
perform better on state assessments..........................................11
3 - PARC scores means for all grades for Douglas County Schools......................12
4 - Douglas County student populations for charter and non-charter schools...........38
5 - Summary of Results of English Language Learners..................................39
6 - Summary of Results of Special Education Students.................................40
7 - Summary of Results of Fee or Reduced Lunch Students..............................41
8 - Summary of Results of Minority Students......................................... 42
9 - Community Survey Results, Q. 7.1: Rate your overall quality of education
provided.......................................................................43
10 - Community Survey Results, Q. 10.2: Indicate your support or opposition to charter
schools .......................................................................43
II - Community Survey Results, Q. 38: Do you feel like you have a choice in
schools for your child?........................................................44
12 - Community Survey Results, Q 37: Was quality of educational programming
a factor in choosing school or program?........................................45
13 - Enrollment practices for Douglas County charter schools.........................47
14 - Parental volunteering requirements............................................. 48
15 - Student Fees - Douglas County School District charter schools...................48
16 - Community Survey, Q 37: Was cost a factor in choosing a school or program?......49
17 - Cost of Kindergarten - Charter Schools..........................................50
18 - Cost of Kindergarten - Neighborhood and Charter Schools.........................51
vi


19 - Community Survey, Q 37: Was transportation to and from school a factor
in choosing a school or program?............................................................ 52
20 - Community Survey, Q : Opinion on improving transportation fleet and
eliminating transportation fees?............................................................ 52


LIST OF FIGURES
FIGURE
1 - The number of charter schools operating in Colorado by year....................... 4
2 - Percentage of special education students in charter schools
and statewide, 2001 to 2015....................................................18
3 - Percentage of English language learner students attending charter
schools and statewide..........................................................22
4 - Percentage of minority students attending charter school and statewide............25
5 - Percentage of students eligible for free or reduced cost lunch
in charter schools and statewide................................................26
viii


CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
Charter schools are promoted as a way to advance the quality of education for all students. Weiler and Vogel (2015) state the fairly obvious observation that “for charter schools to become laboratories for public education, they have to serve similar student populations as traditional public schools.” (p. 1). This research examines whether there are barriers in place that might preclude certain segments of student populations from enrolling in charter schools in the Douglas County School District (DCSD) which serves the public school students in Douglas County, Colorado. Specifically, the research aimed to determine whether school of choice is really a choice available to all families of Special Student Populations (SSP) in Douglas County, Colorado. “Special Student Populations” means, for purposes of this study, special education students1, English Language Learners2 (ELL), ethnic minority students, and students from economically disadvantaged families3. This study also examined barriers that may impact the availability of choice for families with SSPs. The barriers examined include: the enrollment process at charter schools, the requirement at charter schools that parents volunteer a certain amount of their time, the mandatory fees charged at charter schools, the cost of kindergarten at charter schools, the lack of district provided transportation for charter school students and other
1 For purposes of this paper, the terms “special education students” and “students with disabilities” will be used interchangeably to denote students with Individualized Education Plans who are entitled to special education services under federal law.
2 ELL students are commonly defined as those who speak a language other than English at home and score below proficient on English assessments when entering the schools system.
See http://schools.nyc.gov/Academics/ELL/default.htm
3 Students that qualify for free or reduced cost lunches are used as proxy for students from low income families and therefore considered to be economically disadvantaged.
1


barriers with no discernible purpose other than to limit access to charter schools by unwanted students. Specifically, this study sought to answer the following questions:
• Is there a significant difference in the enrollment of SSPs between charter schools and non-charter schools in Douglas County,
Colorado?
• To what extent do SSPs confront barriers to access charter schools in Douglas County?
• Are the enrollment rates of SSPs in the DCSD charter and neighborhood schools similar to the enrollment rates in neighboring school districts? Or, is the DCSD unique?
The DCSD was chosen for this research for several reasons. First, the school district has made a strong commitment to school choice by authorizing the creation of numerous charter schools within the county. Second, in general, charter schools are heavily concentrated in urban centers and have been deliberately concentrated in communities of color and in neighborhoods with high rates of poverty (Casey, 2014); making Douglas County a relatively unique county in that it is predominately rural in character and is inhabited by higher percentage of people who are white, more affluent, and more educated than people in most other counties. And third, there is a dearth of literature concerning the academic performance of students in charter schools and barriers to access to charter schools in areas like Douglas County.
2


CHAPTER II
LITERATURE REVIEW
The research reported below is mainly concerned with barriers that prevent or inhibit traditionally disadvantaged students to access schools of choice. However, consideration is also given to the performance of Special Student Populations (SSP)s attending charter schools and how this compares to neighborhood schools. If particular subgroups of students do not perform as well or better in charter schools than their counterparts at neighborhood schools, then their underrepresentation in charter schools becomes less significant. On the other hand, if particular subgroups of students perform as well or better in charter schools, then their exclusion and the barriers that cause their underrepresentation become more important to understand. The literature described and discussed below makes clear that it is important to understand the various subgroups of traditionally disadvantaged students and the barriers that may exist that prevent them from attending charter schools in Douglas County.
The Development of Charter Schools in the United States.
The Colorado Department of Education defines charter schools as:
a public school operated by a group of parents, teachers and/or community members as a semi-autonomous school of choice within a school district, operating under a contract or “charter” contract between members of the charter school community and the local board of education.
In a charter school, each student, parent and teacher chooses to be there. The ‘charter,’ as defined in the Charter School Act (Sections 22-30.5-101 et seq. C.R.S.), spells out the school goals, standards, education design, governance and operations.
(Colorado Department of Education, n.d.)
3


The first state to legislatively authorize the establishment of charter schools was Minnesota in 1991, with California and Colorado following soon thereafter (Weiler & Vogel, 2015). According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (National Alliance, n.d.), as of the 2016-17 school year, charter school legislation has been passed in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Between the school years 2000-2001 and 2015-2016 the percentage of public schools that were charter schools increased from 2% to 7%, and the total number of charter schools increased from 3,400 to 6,999 nationwide. The percentage of students who attended public charter schools increased from 2% to 7% between the fall of 2004 and fall of 2017. The total number of students enrolled in public charter schools increased from 0.4 million to 2.8 million by the fall of 2015 (U.S. Department of Education, 2017). Similar trends have been seen in states across the country with charter schools, or public schools of choice, multiplying in numbers over the past twenty years nationwide (Xiang & Tarasawa, 2015). Colorado
According to the Colorado League of Charter Schools, the percentage of public school students attending Colorado charter schools has increased significantly since 1993 when the state legislature approved the state’s first charter laws. In the 2017-2018 school year, 13.2% of all public school students attended charter schools. According to the report, 51.1% of all minority students attend charter schools, while 45% attended non-charter schools. Similarly, 21.1% of students who are English Language Learners attend charter schools, while 16.3% attend noncharter schools (Colorado League of Charter Schools, n.d.)
4


Figure 1 shows the relative constant growth of the operation of charter schools in
Colorado between 1993 and 2016.
Douglas County
Douglas County is located midway between Colorado's two largest cities, Denver and Colorado Springs. In July 2017, Douglas County, Colorado, was named the fifth wealthiest county in the country by Forbes Magazine (Lerner, 2017). It is the seventh-most populous of the 64 counties in the State of Colorado with a population of 285,465 (United States Census Bureau, n.d.). According to the United States Census Bureau, Douglas County has the highest median household income of any Colorado county or statistical equivalent and is ranked ninth nationally in that category. Douglas County has the lowest child poverty rate (2.7%) than any other county in the United States. (Dunn, et al., 2018). Table 1, displays population characteristics and demographics for Douglas County and compares them with the United States, Colorado and Denver. The comparisons clearly indicate that Douglas County is, indeed, a unique community. It is an overwhelmingly white, affluent, and well educated community.
5


Table 1. Population Characteristics and Demographics - United States, Colorado, Denver and Douglas County
Category United States Colorado Denver Douglas County
Demographics
Total Population 325,719,178 5,607,154 704,621 285,465
White 76.6% 87.3% 77.0% 90.4%
Black 13.4% 4.5% 9.8% 1.5%
American Indian 1.3% 1.6% 0.9% 0.5%
Asian 5.8% 3.4% 3.5% 4.9%
Hispanic 18.1% 21.5% 3.0% 8.7%
Pacific Islander %
Two or more races 2.7% 3.0% 3.4% 2.6%
Economics
Median Household Income $55,322 $62,520 $56,258 $105,759
Poverty Rate 12.70% 11% 16.40% 3.40%
Language
Language other than English spoken at home, % of persons age 5+ 21.1% 17.0% 27.1% 9.2%
Foreign Born 13.2% 15.9% 9.8% 7.8%
Education
Percent of persons with a Bachelor's degree or higher, % of persons age 25+ 30.3% 38.7% 45.7% 57.5%
Source: United States Census Bureau, State and County QuickFacts. Population estimates - July 1,2017
Douglas County public school students are served by the Douglas County School District
RE-1 (DCSD), the third-largest school district in Colorado. In addition to traditional
neighborhood schools, the DCSD operates 19 charter schools (DCSD created the first charter
school in Colorado in 1993), 4 alternative schools, 1 magnet school, and supports online and
home education (DCSD, n.d.). There are no current plans for any neighborhood schools to open
in the future despite the continued population growth in the county (DCSD, n.d.).
In recent years Douglas County has been at the forefront of a nationwide experiment in
the school of choice movement. In fact, the DCSD was identified as such by former United
States Secretary of Education William Bennett who commented:
Somebody is trying to do all the good reforms at once out in Douglas County. It’s a remarkable group of people there who are trying to do choice, accountability, high standards. These kinds of things have happened, but not quite like in Douglas County.
(Hess & Eden, 2013, p. 2; quoting Bennett [2013] speech).
6


The district received this distinction, in part, because in March of 2011, the DCSD Board unanimously approved a new strategic plan entitled New Outcomes for a New Day (NOND Plan; DCSD, n.d ).
Within the NOND Plan, the board identified three implementation priorities: choice, world-class education, and system performance. The most significant and novel part of the plan relating to choice was the Choice Scholarship Pilot Program (CSPP), a voucher program that awarded taxpayer-funded grants to help pay tuition at partnering private schools, including religious schools. Following a lawsuit by Douglas County taxpayers, the Colorado Supreme Court held that the voucher program violated the Colorado Constitution (art. ix, sec. 7) which prohibits the use of public moneys to fund religious schools (Taxpayers for Public Education v Douglas County School District, 2015).
The DCSD appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court, but subsequently withdrew the appeal upon the election of new DCSD board members who opposed the voucher program. On December 5, 2017, the DCSD Board of Education voted 6-0 rescinding the Choice Scholarship Program. The Colorado Supreme Court subsequently dismissed the case as moot (Douglas County School District, 2018).
Also included in the NOND Plan was the establishment of charter schools within the DCSD. These new charter schools were intended to be tuition-free schools operated by independent board of directors that could be composed of parents, teachers, and community members. The charter schools were to be schools of choice within the DCSD, operating pursuant to the Colorado Charter Schools Act (Sections 22-30.5-101 et seq. C.R.S.), and in accordance with their contract or “charter” between the board of the charter school and the DCSD Board.
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Charter School Performance
As noted above, charter schools have grown rather significantly in many states across the nation and it is clear that choice education has found a place in the American educational system. The Washington Post reported that President Trump and United States Education Secretary Betsy DeVos “have made one thing clear when it comes to education policy, it is this: Their priority is expanding ‘school choice’” (Strauss, 2017, p. 1). Cohodes (2018) claims that increasing competition by allowing students “to vote with their feet” will improve system wide performance, (p. 48). See also Barrow & Sartain (2017) (quoting United States Secretary of Education William Bennett). Secretary Bennet argued that increased competition from private schools would improve the performance of Chicago Public Schools, (p. 1); and, The Economist (2018) (quoting John Schilling, president of the American Federation for Children stating that “[pjarents right to choice is really the civil-rights issue of the 21st century” (p. 4). The public debate surrounding charter schools has focused on the relative performance of charter schools compared to traditional neighborhood schools.
In 2010, the National Center for Educational Evaluation and Regional Assistance, part of the Institute of Education Sciences, issued its report on the evaluation of charter school impacts (IES, 2010). The Center evaluated 36 charter middle schools across 15 states and compared outcomes of students who applied and were admitted to those schools through randomized admissions lottery (lottery winners) with students who participated in an admission lottery but failed to be admitted at these same schools (lottery losers). Based on the findings, the report concluded that charter middle schools that hold lotteries are neither more nor less successful than traditional schools in improving student achievement, behavior, and school progress. In addition, evaluation findings indicated significant variability in terms of the impact that charter middle
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schools have on student achievement (IES, 2010). Subsequent studies attempting to evaluate the performance of charter schools report similar results with several important distinctions. Research conducted by Xiang and Tarasawa (2015) concluded that charter school students consistently perform better on mathematical achievement measures, but the authors noted that national research is inconclusive, in part, because of the complexity in conducting proper comparisons.
In August 2016, the American Enterprise Institute issued the results of its research on national comparisons of charter and traditional public schools (Malkus, 2016). Using data from both charter and traditional schools, the authors matched each charter school with its five nearest traditional public schools. The study arrived at two main conclusions: First, comparisons between the performance of students attending charter and traditional schools can only be valid if the comparisons are limited to neighboring charter and traditional public schools. And, second, that while charter schools and traditional public schools are inherently different, these differences make comparisons of test results unreliable as a measure of performance. When comparing neighboring charter and non-charter schools, many of the average differences disappear.
Cohodes (2018) cautions that it is not appropriate to compare test scores of students who attend charter schools with the scores of students in traditional schools. Differences in scores may be caused by differences in schooling or by differences in the type of students who attend charter schools. Higher scores may be attributed to higher motivated students as opposed to the quality of charter schools versus traditional schools.
Cohodes (2018) concluded that charter schools perform at about the same level as traditional schools, but there exists considerable variations in charter school impacts. She cites a
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number of studies to support the conclusion that there is a substantial body of research on academic performance of charter schools and traditional neighborhood schools, but the research is of uneven quality. Cohodes significantly relied upon a particularly comprehensive assessment of charter school effects from the Center for Research on Educational Outcomes, at Stanford University (CREDO, 2015).
The CREDO study is a more recent and expanded replication of a 2009 16-state study which took a comprehensive look at the impact of charter schools on student performance. The 2009 study concluded that there was a wide variation in quality among charter schools, with students not performing as well as those attending neighborhood public schools. A 2013 followup study examined the performance of students at an expanded number of charter schools in 26 states, including Colorado and New York City, making up 95% of the nation’s charter school students. The students in those charter schools showed improved academic performance over the results reported in the 2009 study and an upward trend in their academic performance over the past five years. Most impressively, the study found that Black students, students in poverty, and English Language Learners improved their academic performance equivalent to receiving significantly more days of learning each year in charter schools than comparable neighborhood schools in both reading and math. (CREDO, 2013, p, 17).
In a large-scale study which included 33 charter schools in 13 states, the researchers concluded that there were, in fact, variations in student achievement (Clark, Gleason, Tuttle, & Silverberg, 2014). One of their findings indicated that charter schools in urban areas or those serving more disadvantaged populations had more positive impacts than those in non-urban areas or serving more advantaged populations. (Clark et al., 2014). Thus, there is great potential for
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urban charter schools to generate impressive achievement gains, especially for minority students living in high-poverty areas. (Angrist, 2013).
Clearly, the research comparing student achievement in charter schools versus noncharter schools has been largely inconclusive. Some studies report that charter schools have higher academic achievement and real choice, while other research shows just the opposite. Ultimately, the impact of charter schools on academic achievement should be examined at the local level as national numbers are not representative of individual states or school districts.
The Colorado Department of Education claims that charter schools in Colorado continue to generally outperform non-charter schools on state performance measures (Department of Education, 2016). Table 2 displays the result of research conducted by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)4, during the 2015-2016 school year, attempting to show the relative performances of historically underserved subgroups of students attending Colorado charter schools and Colorado non-charter schools.
Table 2 - Performance of Historically Underserved Groups at Charter Schools and Noncharter Schools. Based Upon the Results of the 2015 PARCC Assessments
Level Benchmarks Percent of Students That Met or Exceeds Grade
Colorado Charter Public Schools Non-charter public Schools
Free or Reduced Language Arts: 27.8% 22.4%
Price Lunch Students Mathematics: 19.4% 14.6%
Limited English Language Arts: 28.7% 19.7%
Proficiency Students Mathematics: 22.1% 14.8%
Students with Language Arts: 10.1% 6.5%
Disabilities Mathematics: 8.6% 5.8%
Source: Results of 2017-2018 PARC Assessments.
4 PARCC is a consortium of states developing assessments to measure student achievement in English Language Arts and Mathematics based on the learning standards contained in the Common Core State Standards for grades 3-8 and high school.
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The PARCC results show that certain historically underserved student subgroups attending charter schools in Colorado performed better on state assessment tests than their counterparts attending non-charter schools.
The Douglas County School District reports that students in charter schools in Douglas County tend to perform better academically than those in non-charter schools. They tout their district as “one of the top school districts in Colorado” and publicize the fact that “Newsweek’s 2013 rankings of the nation’s high schools listed all six DCSD high schools as among the top 40 schools in Colorado” (DCSD, 2013). The test results shown in the following table, however, while showing some improvement in scores, these differences are not significant.
Table 3 - PARC scores means for all grades for Douglas County Schools
Douglas County Charter and Magnet Schools Douglas County Neighborhood Schools
English: 759 751
Mathematics: 751 744
Source: Results of the 2017 - 2018 PARC Assessments
Barriers to Access by Special Student Populations
Historically, charter schools have been rolled out in low-income and struggling school districts - “school of choice is rarely a pressing concern in suburban communities” (Hess &
Eden, 2013, p. 8). A great deal of attention has been paid to the successes and failures of such charter schools, and although charter schools are subject to the same federal requirements as traditional public schools to provide free and appropriate public education to all, critics have argued that charter schools do not enroll a proportionate number of students with disabilities, English Language Learners, ethnic minorities, and economically disadvantaged students (Winters, 2015).
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Frankenberg, Lee, and Minow (2003) suggest that even though school of choice has grown in Colorado and the nation, there are many critics of this movement. Opponents of charter schools argue that these schools “cream-skim” the best students from traditional public schools and push hard-to-educate students to traditional public schools (Anderson, 2017). Zimmer & Guarino (2013) indicate that the enrollment of students in charter schools may be motivated by a desire to avoid enrolling expensive-to-educate students. Anderson published the results of her empirical studies using available evidence that assess whether there are differences in enrollment patterns for students with disabilities and limited English language students. She concluded that the literature review clearly documents that students with disabilities and special education students are underserved in charter schools (2017). She cautions, however, that there is other evidence to suggest that the apparent underrepresentation is due, at least in part, to families selecting schools rather than schools selecting students.
The advent of school choice and the establishment of charter schools present an opportunity to explore new approaches to public education and to compare student achievement between students attending charter schools and students attending traditional neighborhood schools. However, to be useful, comparisons must be based upon the achievement of students attending schools that serve similar student populations. Moreover, it is critical to determine if there are barriers to charter school enrollment for certain student groups as this may impede improvement on traditional public education via the charter school movement (Sarason, 1998; Weiler & Vogel, 2015). Indeed, Weiler & Vogel highlight a number of barriers to access charter schools for particular disadvantaged subgroups of students.
There is extant research on the discrepancy of special education students’ attendance in charter schools, discrepancy in the availability of choice to economically disadvantaged families,
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and other barriers to families to access charter schools (Buckley & Sattin-Bajaj, 2011).
However, much of the research has been conducted in struggling cities and low performing school districts and there is a dearth of research on what school of choice looks like in an affluent community such as Douglas County. The DCSD’s school of choice program is not seen as a method to “bail out” struggling schools, but significantly as an opportunity to provide families more options for their children.
DCSD prides itself in offering innovative programs designed to meet the educational needs and desires of students, parents, staff and the community. We embrace school choice by offering a wide variety of pathways to learning, including: neighborhood schools, magnet, charter, online, home education, contract schools, and scholarship to private partner schools that contract and meet all DCSD conditions of eligibility.
(DCSD, n.d., p. 5)
The DCSD’s strategic plan may be intended to produce excellent outcomes for its students; however, it should not be morally acceptable that so called “schools of choice” should be permitted to operate as segregated institutions where students are isolated by race, socioeconomic status, disability, or language.
Special Education Students.
Charter schools, as public institutions, are subject to the same legal requirements as traditional schools that are applicable to students with disabilities. The legal requirements include the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)5, Section 5046, to the
5 The IDEA, 20 U.S.C. §794, authorizes federal funding for special education and related services. For states that accept IDEA funding, the statute sets out detailed requirements regarding the provision of special education, including the requirement that children with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education.
6 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C.§794, prohibits discrimination based upon disability. See Durheim (2018) for good explanation of Section 504 legal requirements.
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extent the charter school receives any federal funding, and Title II of the ADA7, regardless whether it receives any federal funds (COPAA, 2012). Thus, students with disabilities enrolled in charter schools have the same legal rights as those enrolled in traditional public schools. In addition, Local Education Agencies (LEA)8 are legally required to identify, locate, and evaluate all eligible children to ensure each child is provided a free and appropriate public education. This legal requirement includes providing, as necessary, specialized instruction and related services based upon the student’s unique needs and educated with students without disabilities to the maximum extent appropriate. (COPAA, 2012).
Since the early stages of the charter school movement, there has been a healthy skepticism regarding the willingness and ability of charter schools to serve the educational needs of students with disabilities (COPAA, 2012). Early research completed by McLaughlin and Henderson (1998) shortly after charter schools emerged in Colorado reported that there was a general lack of information regarding charter schools serving special education students. Since then, literature regarding the attendance of students with disabilities at charter schools has markedly increased. Unfortunately, the literature merely confirms that students with disabilities continue to be underrepresented in charter schools. (COPPA, 2012)
The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) issued a report in 2012 analyzing the legal issues and areas of concern regarding students with disabilities and charter
7 Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §12132, extends the prohibition on discrimination by Section 504 to all activities of the state and local government regardless of entities Federal financial assistance.
8 An LEA is a public authority that is designated to oversee the implementation of education policies set forth by the federal government. An LEA typically refers to a local school district board. In Douglas County, the DCSD Board serves as the LEA for all charter schools except one (the Colorado Early College in Parker which is served by the Charter School Institute).
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schools. They reported that while the number of students with disabilities enrolled in charter schools nationally has continued to grow in the decade preceding the issuance of their report, several school districts that rely heavily on charter schools (New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.) all faced claims of systematic discrimination under the IDEA and Section 204 (COPAA, 2012). Using Louisiana Department of Education data, the complainants were able to show that 27 charter schools in New Orleans enrolled less than 10% of students with disabilities, and 11 charter schools reported enrolling 5% or less of students with disabilities, revealing a similar pattern as Los Angeles and Washington, DC. (COPAA, 2012).
Winters (2015) reports that there is no real evidence to explain the disparity in attendance of disadvantaged students at charter schools compared to traditional schools. Torre (2013) suggests that charter schools adopt and follow unofficial policies of “counseling out” children with disabilities. Once charter schools begin accepting applications for attendance from students with disabilities they begin “cream skimming” or denying access to special education students so that these students do not bring down overall test scores. (Lacireno-Paquet, Holyoke, Moser, & Henig, 2002). In addition, the claim is made that when charter schools, do accept special education students, they tend to accept only those with “mild”’ disabilities. (Rhim &
McLaughlin, 2001).
The available literature suggests that low performing students are more mobile; but when taking that into account, low performing students are not more likely to leave their charter school than higher performing students. (Anderson, 2017). This contradicts the theory that charter schools may “push out” students who are not performing at higher standards. Research completed by Angrist, Parag, and Walters (2013) regarding charter lotteries in Massachusetts suggests that applicants to charter schools are less likely to require special education services or
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Full Text

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IS SCHOOL OF CHOICE A CHOICE FOR ALL IN DOUGLAS COUNTY, COLORADO? by JENNIFER WORCESTER B.A., University of Colorado, 1998 M.A., University of Colorado, 2001 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Psychology School of Psychology Program 2019

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ii This thesis for the Doctor of Psychology degree by Jennifer Worcester has been approved for the School Psychology Program by Franci Crepeau Hobson, Chair Bryn Harris Rachel Stein Date: May 18, 2019

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iii Worcester, Jennifer (PsyD, School Psychology Program) Is School of Choice a Choice for all in Douglas County, Colorado? Thesis directed by Associate Professor Franci Crepeau Hobson ABSTRACT School of choice has been touted as a solution to the alleged decay of the American educational system. Every year more and more "choice schools" (charter, magnet, expeditionary, and others) open across the United States. Although these schools are subject to the same federal legal requirements as traditional public schools to provide a free and appropriate public education, there is a substantial body of research suggesting that ineq ualities exist in the representation and performance of students who attend choice and neighborhood schools. The Douglas County School District in Colorado has been on the forefront of the choice school movement. It is unique among school districts offering charter schools due to the relatively high socioeconomic status of its residents. Historically, most charter schools have replaced low achieving schools or have been opened in high poverty urban areas. Accordi ngly, there is minimal research on how charter schools function in affluent communities and how accessible they are to all families in the communities they serve. The purpose of this study wa s to determine if there is a significant difference in the popu lation of subgroups of historically disadvantaged students at charter schools compared to neighborhood schools due to barriers causing a lack of real choice for some families in Douglas County. The result of this research indicates that there is, in fact, a significant difference. The gap in attendance rates is especially true for students who qualify for free or reduced cost lunch and special education students. This form and consent of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Appr oved: Franci Crepeau Hobson

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iv TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER I. ! INTRODUCTION ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ ... ÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉ.. ÉÉÉÉÉÉ 1 II. ! LITERATURE REVIEW É. ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ ... É.É. ÉÉÉ ÉÉ.... 3 The Development of Charte r Schools in the United States É ÉÉ ÉÉÉ É É ÉÉÉÉÉ ... 3 Colorado ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉ. ÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉ ÉÉÉÉ ..É . É É . 4 Douglas County . ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ 4 Charter Schoo l PerformanceÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ.. ÉÉÉ ÉÉÉ ... É . É ÉÉÉ. É . É . É .. ÉÉ 8 Barr iers to Access by Special Student PopulationsÉÉ ... É ÉÉÉ ÉÉ ÉÉÉÉ É . . ÉÉ. 12 Special Educa tion Students ÉÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉ. ÉÉ É . ÉÉÉÉÉÉ . ÉÉÉ... 14 English Language Learners É . ÉÉÉÉ É É . É ÉÉÉ É ... É... . ÉÉÉÉÉÉ . ÉÉ 18 E thnic Minorities ÉÉÉ . ÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉÉ ÉÉ ÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ É ÉÉ.É 22 Economically Disadvantaged Students É ... .............. É ÉÉÉ ÉÉÉ. .. ÉÉÉÉÉ... 25 Additional Barriers ÉÉ .. ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉÉ.... ÉÉ ÉÉÉ. É .. ÉÉÉÉ.É. 27 Enrollment and Admission Policies ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ. 28 Forced Volunteerism ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ 29 Mandatory Fees ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ 30 Transportation ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ.. 31 III METHODS ÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ...ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ. 32 Data Collection ÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ...ÉÉÉ 32 The Colorado Department of Education ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ.. 32 A Community Survey Conducted by the DCSÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ. 32 School Websites and Interviews with Staff ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ. 33

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v Procedures ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ . ÉÉÉÉÉÉ 34 Analysis ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ . ÉÉÉÉÉ 36 IV . RESULTS ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ . ÉÉÉ ... ÉÉ .... 38 Differences in Student Populations ÉÉ .. ÉÉÉ É ÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉ É É ÉÉ..É . ÉÉ É 38 ELL Students ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ . ÉÉ . É .. .. 39 Special Education Students ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ .. É .. 40 Free and Reduced Lunch Students ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ .. É .. . 41 Minority Students ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ...ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ .. ÉÉ .. É 42 Barriers to Access Charter Schools ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ .. ÉÉÉÉ .. . 43 Admission Procedures ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ .. ÉÉÉ . É. 46 Volunteer Requirements ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ .. ÉÉÉ . .. 47 Mandatory Student Fees ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ... ÉÉÉ É É .. É 48 Cost of Kindergarten ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ .... É .. . 49 Other Associated Fees ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ. 51 Transportation ÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ. 51 Other Barriers ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ...ÉÉÉÉ . ÉÉÉ É.. 53 Is Douglas County Unique ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ . É...É É.. 53 V. DISCUSSION ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ É. . É .. É 55 Limitations ÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ. 60 Conclusions and Future Direction . ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ. 61 REFERENCES ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉ.. ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ É ÉÉ É.. 63

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vi LIST OF TABLES TABLE 1 Ð Population characteristics and demographics Ð United States, Colorado, Denver and Douglas County .. ÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ.ÉÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉÉ 5 2 Ð Historically underserved subgroups from Colorado charter public schools perform better on state assessments ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ.ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉÉ. 11 3 Ð PARC scores means for all grades for Dougla s County Schools ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ.. 12 4 Ð Douglas County student populations for charter and non charter s chools ÉÉÉÉÉÉ É. 38 5 Ð Summary of Results of English Language LearnersÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉ É..ÉÉ .. ÉÉÉÉ...39 6 Ð Summary of Results of Special Educat ion Students ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ. 40 7 Ð Summary of Results of Fee or Reduced Lunch Students ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ . ÉÉÉ.ÉÉ 41 8 Ð Summary of Results of Minority Students ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ . ÉÉÉ.. 42 9 Ð Community Survey Results, Q. 7.1: Rate your overall quality of education provided ÉÉÉÉÉ.......................................................................... ....................... ...... 43 10 Ð Community Survey Results, Q. 10.2: Indicate your support or opposition to charter scho ols ÉÉÉÉÉ............................................................................ ............................. 43 11 Ð Community Survey Results, Q. 38: Do you feel like you have a choice in schools for your child? .................................... ..................................... ............................. 44 12 Ð Community Survey Results, Q 37: Was quality of educational programming a factor in choosing school or program? ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ..45 13 Ð Enrollmen t practices for Douglas Count y charter s chools ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ..ÉÉ..47 14 Ð Parental volunteering r equirements ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ........ 48 15 Ð Student Fees Ð D ouglas County School District charter s chools ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ.. 48 16 Ð Community Survey, Q 37: Was cost a factor in choosing a sc hool or program? ÉÉÉÉ 49 17 Ð Cost of Kindergarten Ð Charter Schools ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ.. 50 18 Ð Cost of Kindergarten Ð Neighborhood and Charter Schools ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ...ÉÉ 51

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vii 19 Ð Community Survey, Q 37: Was transportation to and from school a factor in choosing a school or program? ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ.. 52 20 Ð Community Survey, Q : Opinion on improving transportation fleet and eliminating transportation fees? ÉÉÉÉ..ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ . ÉÉ 52

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viii LIST OF FIGURES FIGURE 1 The number of charter schools operating in Colorado by year É . ÉÉÉ..ÉÉÉÉÉ . É. . . 4 2 Ð Percentage of special education students in charter schools and statewide, 2001 to 2015ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ.... 18 3 Ð Percentage of English language learner students attending charter schools and statew ide ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ..ÉÉ.. ÉÉÉÉ 22 4 Ð Percentage of minority students attending charter school and statewide ÉÉ .. ÉÉÉÉ .. . . . 25 5 Ð Percentage of students eligible for free or reduced cost lunch in charter schools and statewide ÉÉÉÉÉÉÉÉ . ÉÉÉ ÉÉÉ..ÉÉÉÉÉ . É.. 2 6

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1 CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Charter schools are promoted as a way to advance the quality of education for all students. Weiler and Vogel (2015) state the fairly obvious observation that "for charter schools to become laboratories for public education, they have to serve similar stude nt populations as traditional public schools." (p. 1). This research examines whether there are barriers in place that might preclude certain segments of student populations from enrolling in charter schools in the Douglas County School District (DCSD) wh ich serves the public school students in Douglas County, Colorado. Specifically, the research aimed to determine whether school of choice is really a choice available to all families of S pecial S tudent P opulations (S SP ) in Douglas County, Colorado. "Speci al S tudent P opulations" means, for purposes of this study, special education students 1 , English Language Learners 2 (ELL) , ethnic minority students, and students from economically disadvantaged families 3 . Th is study also examine d barriers that may impact the availability of choice for families with SSP s . The barriers examined include: the enrollment process at charter schools, the requirement at charter schools that parents volunteer a certain amount of their time , the mandatory fe es charged at charter schools , the cost of kindergarten at charter schools , the lack of district provided transportation for charter school students and other 1 For purposes of this paper, the terms "special education students" and "students with disabilities" will be used interchangeably to denote students with Individualized Education Plans who are entitled to special education services under federal law. 2 EL L students are commonly defined as those who speak a language other than English at home and score below proficient on English assessments when entering the schools system. See http://schools.nyc.gov/Academics/ELL/default.htm 3 Students that qualify for free or reduced cost lunches are used as proxy for students from low income families and therefore considered to be economically disadvantaged.

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2 barriers with no discernible purpose other than to limit access to charter schools by unwanted students . Specifically , this study s ought to answer the following questions: • ! Is there a significant difference in the enrollment of SSP s between charter schools and non charter schools in Douglas County, Colorado? • ! To what extent do SSP s confront barriers to access charter schools in Douglas County? • ! Are the enrollment rates of SSPs in the DCSD charter and neighborhood schools similar to the enrollment rates in neighboring school districts? Or, is the DCSD unique? The D CSD was chosen for this research for several reasons. First, the school district has made a strong commitment to school choice by authorizing the creation of numerous charter schools within the county. Second, in general, charter schools are heavily concentrated in urban centers and have bee n deliberately concentrated in communities of color and in neighborhoods with high rates of poverty (Casey, 2014); making Douglas County a relatively unique county in that it is predominately rural in character and is inhabited by higher percentage of peop le who are white , more affluent , and more educated than people in most other counties. And third, there is a dearth of literature concerning the academic performance of students in charter schools and barriers to access to charter schools in areas like Dou glas County.

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3 CHAPTER II LITERATURE REVIEW The research reported below is mainly concerned with barriers that prevent or inhibit traditionally disadvantaged studen ts to access schools of choice. However, consideration is also give n to the performance of Special Student Populations ( SSP ) s attending charter schools and how this compar e s to neighborhood schools. If particular subgroups of students do not perform as well or better in charter schools than their counterparts at neighborhood schools, then their underrepresentation in charter sc hools becomes less significant. On the other hand, if particular subgroups of students perform as well or better in charter schools, then their exclusion and the barr iers that cause their underrepresentation become more i mportant to understand. The literature described and discussed below makes clear that it is important to understand the various subgroups of traditionally disadvantaged students and the barriers that may exist that prevent them from attending charter schools in Douglas County. T he Development of Chart er Schools in the United States . The Colorado Department of Education defines charter schools as: a public school operated by a group of parents, teacher s and/or community members as a semi autonomous school of choice within a school district, operating under a contract or "charter" contract between members of the charter school community and the local board of education. In a charter school, each stude nt, parent and te acher chooses to be there. The Ô charter, ' as defined in the Charter School Act (Sections 22 30.5 101 et seq. C.R.S.), spells out the school goals, standards, education design, governance and operations. (Colorado Department of Education , n.d.)

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4 The first state to legislatively authorize the establishment of charter schools was Minnesota in 1991, with California and Colorado following soon thereafter (Weiler & Vogel, 2015). According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (Na tional Alliance, n.d.), as of the 2016 17 school year, charter school legislation has been passed in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Between the school years 200 0 200 1 and 201 5 201 6 the percentage of public schools that were charter schools increa sed from 2 % to 7 % , and the total number of charter schools increased from 3,400 to 6,999 nationwide. The percentage of students who attended public charter schools increased from 2 % to 7 % between the fall of 2004 and fall of 2017. The total number of students enrolled in public charter schools increased from 0. 4 million to 2.8 million by the fall of 2015 (U.S. Department of Education, 2017). Similar trends have been seen in states across the country with charter schools, or public schools of choice, m ultiplying in numbers over the past twenty years nationwide (Xiang & Tarasawa, 2015). Colorado According to the Colorado League of Charter Schools, the percentage of public school students attending Colorado charter schools has increased significantly sinc e 1993 when the state legislature approved the state's first charter laws. In the 2017 2018 school year, 13.2% of all public school stu dents att ended charter schools. According to the report , 51.1% of all minority students a ttend charter schools, while 4 5% attend ed non charter schools. Similarly, 21.1% of students who are English Language Learners attend charter schools, while 16.3% attend non charter schools (Colorado League of Charter Schools, n.d.)

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5 Figure 1 shows the relative constant growth of the operation of charter schools in Colorado between 1993 and 2016. D ouglas County Douglas County is located midway between Colorado's two largest cities, Denver and Colorado Springs. In July 2017 , Douglas County, Colorado, was named the fifth wealthiest county in the country by F orbes Magazine (Lerner, 2017). It is the seventh most po pulous of the 64 counties in the S tate of Colorado with a population of 285,465 (Uni ted States Census Bureau, n.d.). According to the United States Census Bureau , Douglas County has the highest medi an household income of any Colorado coun ty or statistical equivalent and is ranked ninth nationally in that category . Douglas County has the lowest child poverty rate (2.7%) than any other county in the United State s. (Dunn, et al., 2018). Table 1, displays population characteristics and demographics for Douglas County and compares them with the Unit ed States, Colorado and Denver. The comparisons clearly indicate that Douglas County is, indeed, a unique community. It is an overwhelming ly white, aff luent, and well educated community. ! "! #!! #"! $!! $"! #%%& ' ( #%%) ' ( #%%" ' ( #%%* ' ( #%%+ ' ( #%%, ' ( #%%% ' ( $!!! ' ( $!!# ' ( $!!$ ' ( $!!& ' ( $!!) ' ( $#!" ' ( $!!* ' ( $!!+ ' ( $!!, ' ( $!!% ' ( $!#! ' ( $!## ' ( $!#$ ' ( $!#& ' ( $!#) ' ( $!#" ' ( !"#$%&'(' ) *+&',$-.&%'/0'1+2%3&%'45+//67'89&%23":#'":'1/6/%2;/'.<'=&2% ' "#$%&'(!)#*#%+,#!-'.+%/0'1/!#2!3,$&+/4#1!56789:!.;!8<=; !

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6 *2.6&'( >'''?/9$623"/:'1+2%253&%"73"57'2:;'@&-/#%29+"57' ) ' A:"3&;'4323&7B'1/6/%2;/B'@&:C&%' 2:;'@/$#627'1/$:3< ' 123&#/%< ' A:"3&;'4323&7 ' 1/6/%2;/ ' @&:C&%' ' @/$#627' 1/$:3< ' @&-/#%29+"57 ' ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !!!!! >#/+*!?#.$*+/4#1 ! @6A:<8B:8N#!#%!0#%'!%+&'L ! 6;'?/9$623"/:'&73"-23&7' ) ' J$6<'(B'KL(M ' Douglas County public school students are served by the Douglas County School District RE 1 (DCSD), the third large st school district in Colorado. In addition to traditional neighborho od schools, the DCSD operates 19 charter schools ( DCSD created the first charter school in Colorado in 1993) , 4 alternative schools, 1 magnet school, and supports online and home education ( DCSD , n.d.). There are no current plans for any neighborhood schools to open in the future despite the continued population growth in the county ( DCSD, n.d.). In recent years Douglas County has been at the forefront of a nationwide experiment in the school of choice movement. In fact, the DCSD was identified as such by former United States Secretary of Education William Benne t t who commented: Somebody is trying to do all the good reforms at once out in Douglas County. It's a remarkable group of people there who are trying to do choice, accountability, high standards. These kinds of things have happened, but not quite like in Douglas County. (Hess & Eden, 2013 , p. 2 ; quoting Bennett [ 2013 ] speech) .

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7 The district received this distinction, in part, because in March of 2011, the DCSD Board unanimously approved a new strategic plan entitled New Outcomes for a New Day (NOND Plan ; DCSD , n.d.). Within the NOND Plan, the board identified three implementation priorities: choice, world class education, and system performanc e. The most significant and novel part of the plan relating to choice was the Choice Scholarship Pilot Program (CSPP) , a voucher program that awarded taxpayer funded grants to help pay tuition at partnering private schools, including religious schools. F ollowing a lawsuit by Douglas County taxpayers, the Colorado Supreme Court held that the voucher program violated the Colorado Constitution (art. ix, sec. 7) which prohibits the use of public moneys to fund religious schools ( Taxpayers for Public Education v Douglas County School District , 2015 ) . The DCSD appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court, but subsequently withdrew the appeal upon the election of new DCSD board members who opposed the voucher program. On December 5, 2017, the DCSD Board of Education voted 6 0 rescinding the Choice Scholarship Program. The Colorado Supreme Court subsequently dismissed the case as moot (Douglas County School District, 2018). Also included in the NOND Plan was the establi shment of ch arter schools within the DCSD. These new charter schools were intended to be tuition free schools operated by independent board of directors that could be composed of parents, teachers , and community members. The charter schools were to be sc hools of choice within the DCSD, operating pursuant to the Colorado Charter Schools Act (Sections 22 30.5 101 et seq. C.R.S.), and in accordance with their contract or "charter" between the board of the charter school and the DCSD Board.

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8 Charter Scho ol Per formance As noted above, charter schools have grown rather significantly in many states across the nation and i t is clear that choice education has found a place in the American education al system. The Washington Post reported that President Trump and Un ited States Education Secretary Betsy DeVos "have made one thing clear when it comes to education policy, it is this: Their priori ty is expanding Ô school choice ' " (Strauss, 2017 , p. 1). Cohodes (2018) claims that increasing competition by allowing students "to vote with their feet" will improve system wide performance. (p. 48). See also Barrow & Sartain (2017) (quoting United States Secretary of Education William Bennett). Secretary Bennet argued that increased competition from private schools would improve the performance of Chicago Public Schools. (p. 1); and, The Economist (2018) (quoting John Schilling, president of the American Federation for Children stating that "[p]arents right to choice is rea lly the civil rights issue of the 21 st century" (p. 4). The public debate surrounding charter schools has focused on the relative performance of charter schools compared to traditional neighborhood schools. In 2010, the National Center for Educational Eval uation and Regional Assistance, part of the Institute of Education Sciences, issued its report on the evalu ation of charter school impacts (IES, 2010). The Center evaluated 36 c harter middle schools across 15 states and compared outcomes of students who a pplied and were admitted to those schools through randomized admissions lottery (lottery winners) with students who participated in an admission lottery but failed to be admitted at these same schools (lottery losers). Based on the findings, the report co ncluded that charter middle schools that hold lotteries are neither more nor less successful than traditional schools in improving student achievement, behavior, and school progress. In addition, evaluation findings indicated significant variability in ter ms of the impact that charter middle

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9 schools have on student achievement ( IES, 2010 ). Subsequent studies attempting to evaluate the performance of charter schools report similar results with several important distinctions. Research conducted by Xiang and Tarasawa (2015) concluded that charter school students consistently perform better on mathematical achievement measures, but the authors noted that national research is inconclusive, in part, because of the complexity in conducting proper comparisons. In August 2016, the American Enterprise Institute issued the results of its research on national comparisons of charter and traditional public schools (Malkus, 2016). Using data from both charter and traditional schools , the authors match ed each charter scho ol with its five near est traditional public schools. The study arrive d at two main conclusions: First, comparisons between the performance of students attending charter and traditional schools can only be valid if the comparisons are limited to neighborin g charter and traditional public schools. And, second, that while charter schools and traditional public schools are inherently different, these differences make comparisons of test results unreliab l e as a measure of performance. When comparing neighborin g charter and non charter schools, many of the average differences disappear. Cohodes (2018) cautions that it is not appropriate to compare test scores of students who attend charter schools with the scores of students in traditional schools. Differences in scores may be caused by differences in schooling or by differences in the type of stude nts who attend charter schools. Higher scores may be attributed to higher motivated students as opposed to the quality of charter schools versus traditional schools. Cohodes (2018) conclude d that charter schools perform at about the sam e level as traditional schools , but there exists considerable variations in charter school impacts. She cites a

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10 number of studies to support the conclusion that there is a substantial body of research on academic performance of charter schools and traditional neighborhood schools , but the research is of uneven quality. Cohodes significantly relie d upon a particularly comprehensive assessment of c harter school effects from the Center for Research on Educational Outcomes, at Stanford University (CREDO, 2015) . Th e CREDO study is a more recent and expan ded replication of a 2009 16 state study which took a comprehensive look at the impact of charter s chools on student performance. The 2009 study concluded that there was a wide varia tion in quality among charter schools, with students not performing as well as those attending neighborhood public schools. A 2013 follow up study examined the performance o f students at an expanded number of charter schools in 26 states, including Colorado and New York City, making up 95% of the nation's charter school students . The students in those charter schools showed improved academic performance over the results repor ted in the 2009 study and an upward trend in their academic performance over the past five years. Most impressively , the study found that B lack students, students in poverty , and English Language Learners improved their academic performance equivalent to receiving significantly more days of learning each year in charter schools than comparable neighborhood schools in both reading and math . (CREDO, 2013, p, 17). In a large scale study which included 33 charter schools in 13 states , the researchers concluded that there were, in fact, variations in student achievement (Clark, Gleason, Tuttle, & Silverberg, 2014). One of their findings indicated that c harter schools in urban areas or those serving more disadvantaged populations had more positive impacts than t hose in non urban areas or serving more advantaged populations . (Clark et al. , 2014). Thus, t here is great potential for

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11 urban charter schools to generate impressive achievement gains, especially for minority students living in high poverty areas . (Angris t, 2013 ) . Clearly, the research comparing student achievement in charter schools versus non charter schools has been largely inconclusive. Some studies report that charter schools have higher academic achievement and real choice, while other research sh ows just the opposite. Ultimately, the impact of charter schools on academic achievement should be examined at the local level as national numbers are not representative of individual states or school districts. The Colorado Department of Education cla ims that charter schools in Colora do continue to generally outperform non charter schools on state performa nce measures (Department of Education, 2016). Table 2 displays the result of research conducted by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for C ollege and Careers (PARCC) 4 , during the 2015 2016 school year, attempting to show the relative performances of historically underserved subgroups of students attending Colorado charter schools and Colorado non charter schools. Table 2 Performance of Hi storically Underserved Groups at Charter Schools and Non charter Schools. Based Upon the Results of the 2015 PARCC Assessments ' ' E&C&6'G&:5+-2%I7'?&%5&:3'/0'43$;&:37'*+23'N&3'/%'DO5&&;7'P%2;& ' Colorado Charter Public Schools Non charter public Schools Free or Reduced Price Lunch Students Language Arts: Mathematics: 27.8% 19.4% 22.4% 14.6% Limited English Proficiency Students Language Arts: Mathematics: 28.7% 22.1% 19.7% 14.8% Students with Disabilities Language Arts: Mathematics: 10.1% 8.6% 6.5% 5.8% Source: Results of 2017 2018 PARC Assessments. 4 PARCC is a consortium of states developing assessments to measure student achievement in English Language Art s and Mathematics based on the learning standards contained in the Common Core State Standards for grades 3 Ð 8 and high school.

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12 The PARCC results show that certain historically underserved student subgroups attending charter schools in Colorado performed better o n state assessment tests than their counterparts attending non charter schools. The Douglas County School District reports that students in charter schools in Douglas County tend to perform better academically than those in non charter schools . They tout the ir district as "one of the top school districts in Color ado" and publicize the fact that "Newsweek's 20 1 3 rankings of the nation's high schools listed all six DCSD high schools as among the top 40 schools in Colorado " ( DCSD , 2013). The test results shown in the following table, however, while showing some improvement in scores, these differences are not significant . *2.6&'Q' R ' ?ST1'75/%&7'-&2:7'0/%'266'#%2;&7'0/% ' @/$#627 ' '' '''''''''''''' 1/$:3<'45+//67 ! -#$U*+L!)#$1/R!)F+%/'%! +1,! O+U1'/!"&F##*L ! -#$U*+L!)#$1/R! Y'4UFZ#%F##,!"&F##*L ! 31U*4LF(! !
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13 Frankenberg , Lee , and Minow (2003) suggest that even though school of choice has grown in Colorado and the nation, there are many critics of this movement . Opponents of charter schools argue that these schools "cream skim" the best students from traditional public schools and push hard to educate students to traditional public schools (Anderson, 2017). Zimmer & Guarino (2013) indicat e that the enrollment of students in charter schools may be motivated by a desire to avoid enrolling expensive to educate students. Anderson published the result s of her empirical studies using available evidence that assess whether there are differences in enrollmen t patterns for students with disabilities and lim ited English language students. She conclude d that the literature review clearly documents that students with disabilities and special education students are underserve d in charter schools ( 2017 ) . She caut ions, however, that there is other evidence to suggest that the apparent underrepresentation is due, at least in part, to fami lies selecting schools rather than schools selecting students. The advent of school choice and the establishment of charter school s present an opportunity to explore new approaches to public education and to compare student achievement between students attending charter schools and students attending traditional neighborhood schools. However, to be useful, comparisons must be based u pon the achievement of students attending schools that serve similar student populations. Moreover, it is critical to determine if there are barriers to charter school enrollment for certain student groups as this may impede improvement on traditional pub lic education via the charter school movement (Sarason, 1998 ; Weiler & Vogel, 201 5 ). Indeed, Weiler & Vogel highlight a number of barriers to access charter schools for particular disadvantaged subgroups of students . There is exta nt research on the discrepancy of special education students ' attendance in charter schools , discrepancy in the availability of choice to economically disadvantaged families ,

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14 and other barriers to families to access charter schools (Buckley & Sattin Bajaj, 2011). However, m uch of the research has been conducted in struggling cities and low performing school districts and t here is a dearth of research on what school of choice looks like in an affluent com munity such as Douglas County. The DCSD's school of choice program is n ot seen as a method to "bail out" struggling schools, but significantly as an opportunity to provide families more options for their children. DCSD prides itself in offering innovative programs designed to meet the educational needs and desires of studen ts, parents, staff and the community . We embrace school choice by offering a wide variety of pathways to learning, including: neighborhood schools, magnet, charter, online, home education, contract schools, and scholarship to private partner schools that contract and meet all DCSD conditions of eligibility. (DCSD, n.d., p . 5) The DCSD's strategic plan may be intended to produce excellent outcomes for its students ; however, it should not be morally acceptable that so called "schools of choice" should be p ermitted to operate as segregated institutions where students are isolated by race, socioeconomic status, disability, or language. Special Education Students . Charter schools , as public institutions, are subject to the same legal requirements as traditio nal schools that are applicable to students with disab ilities. The legal requirements include the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 5 , Section 504 6 , to the 5 The IDEA, 20 U.S.C. ¤794, authorizes federal funding for special education and related services. For states that accept IDEA fu nding, the statute set s out detailed requirements regarding the provision of special education, including the requirement that children with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education. 6 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C.¤794, prohibits discrimination based upon disability. See Durheim (2018) for good explanation of Section 504 legal requirements.

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15 extent the charter school receives any federal funding, and Title II of the ADA 7 , regardless whether it receives any fed eral funds (COPAA, 2012 ). Thus, students with disabilities enrolled in charter schools have the same legal rights as those enrolled in traditional public schools. In addition, Local Education Agencies (LEA) 8 are legally required to identify, locate, and evaluate all eligible children to ensure each child is provided a free and appropriate public education. This legal requirement includes providing, as necessary, specialized instruction and related services ba sed upon the student's unique needs and educated with students without disabilities to the maximum extent appropriate. (COPAA, 2012 ). Since the early stages of the charter school movement , there has been a healthy skepticism regarding the willingness and ability of charter schools to serve the educational needs of students with disabilities (COPAA, 2012). Early research completed by McLaughlin and Henderson (1998) shortly after charter schools emerged in Colorado reported that there was a general lack of information regarding charter schools serving special education students . Since then, literature regarding the attendance of students with disabilities at charter schools has markedly increased. Unfortunately, the literature merely confirms that student s with disabilities continue to be underrepresented in charter schools. (COPPA, 2012) The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) issued a report in 2012 analyzing the legal issues and areas of concern regarding students with di sabil ities and cha rter 7 Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. ¤12132, e xtends the prohibition on discrimination by Section 504 to all activities of the state and local government regardless of entities Federal financial assistance. 8 An LEA is a public authority that is designated to oversee the implementation of education p olicies set forth by the federal government. An LEA typically refers to a local school district board. In Douglas County, the DCSD Board serves as the LEA for all charter schools except one (the Colorado Early College in Parker which is served by the Chart er School Institute).

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16 schools . They report ed that while the number of students with disabilities enrolled in charter schools nationally has continued to grow in the decade preceding the issuance of their report, several school districts that rely heavily on charter school s ( New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. ) all face d claims of systematic discrimination under the IDEA and Section 204 (COPAA, 2012 ). Using Louisiana Department of Education data, the complainants were able to show that 27 charter schools in New Orleans enrolled less than 10% of students with disabilities, and 11 charter schools reported enrolling 5% or less of students with disabilities , revealing a similar pattern as Los Angeles and Washington, DC . (COPAA, 2012). Winters (2015) reports that there is no real evidence to explain the disparity in attendance of disadvantaged students at charter schools compared to traditional schools. Torre (2013) suggests that charter schools adopt and follow unofficial policies of "c ounseling out" children with disabilities. Once charter schools begin accepting applications for attendance from students with disabilities they begin "cr e am skimming" or deny ing access to special education students so that these students do not bring down overall test scores. ( Laci re no Paquet, Holyoke, Moser, & Henig, 2002). In addition, the claim is made that when charter schools, do accept special education students, they tend to accept only those with " mil d " ' disabilities . ( Rhim & McLaughlin, 2001). T he available literature suggest s that low performing students are more mobile; but when taking that into account, low performing students are not more likely to leave their charter school than higher performing students. (Anderson, 2017). T his contradicts t he theory that charter schools may "push out" students who are not performing at higher standards. Research completed by Angrist, Parag, and Walters (2013) regarding charter lotteries in Massachusetts suggests that applicants to charter schools are less l ikely to require special education services or

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17 qualify for free or reduced lunch, and they generally have higher baseline tests scores. Thus, it is possible that some families are less likely to apply to charter schools rather than their children being de nied admission or being pushed out by charter schools. The situation in Colorado is not much different. A report completed by the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that in Colorado , there was a 3% difference between the percent of specia l education students served in charter schools and neighborhood schools (GAO, 2012). Research completed by a University of Colorado professor described a gap in the number of students in special education that existed in the 2012 2013 school year in Denv er Public Schools between neighborhood schools and c harter schools (Winters, 2015). This difference increase d as students progress through elementary and middle school. The study found a gap of 1.8% in kindergarten (7.7% special education students in nei ghborhood schools vs. 5.9% in charter schools) and a 5.8% disparity in eighth grade (14.2% special education students in neighborhood vs. 8.4% in charter school). Study findings suggest that the "counseling out" of students do not seem to be a significant factor in the gap, but instead families with a child with a disability are less likely to apply to charter schools within the Denver Public S chools (Winter, 2015). I n a similar study conduct ed in Denver and New York City c harter schools found no evidence that low performing students are more likely to exit their schools than students in traditional schools. (Winters, Clayton & Carpenter, 2016). The Colorado Department of Education reports that charter schools continue to see a relatively constant gap of between 3.5 4 percentage points in representation in charter schools between 2001 and 2015. Figure 2 illustrates the gap in enrollment of speci al education students in Colorado (Colorado Department of Education, 2016).

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18 They conclude the report by noting that the reason for the gap in representation remains unclear and further research is needed to determine those factors that are at play (Colorado Department of Education , 2016 ). English Language Learners . As noted previously, as public school s, charter schools are required to adhere to all federal statutes, rules, and regulations relating to the education of all students, including English Language Learners (ELL). Pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 9 , they must take affirmati ve steps to ensure that students with limited English proficiency can meaningfully participate in their edu cational programs and services. In addition, the Equal Education Opportunities Act, 10 enacted that same year, confirmed that public schools, includin g charter 9 42 U.S.C. ¤2000d to d 7 (prohibiting race, color, and national origin discrimination in any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance). 10 20 U.S.C. ¤1703(f). " * + , % #! ## $!!# $!!) $!!, $!#$ $!#* -./0120 31/12 "#$%&'(! )#*#%+,#!-'.+%/0'1/!#2!3,$&+/4#1:!6789:!.;!@<; ! W4U$%'! 6 (!?'%&'1/+U'!#2! ".'&4+*!3,$&+/4#1! "/$,'1/L! 41!)F+%/'%! +1,! "/+/'N4,':!6778!/#!678A !

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19 schools , must act to overcome language barriers that impede equal participation by students in their instructional programs. In 1974 , the United States Supreme Court unanimously decided that the lack of supplemental language instruction in publi c school for students with limited English proficiency violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 11 . The Court demanded that public schools make all necessary changes to provide equal education to non English speaking students. In support of its majority rulin g, Justice Marshall wrote that: É [T] here is no equality of treatment [between ELL students and non ELL students] merely by providing students with the same facilities, textbooks, teachers, and curriculum; for students who do not understand English are eff ectively foreclosed from any meaningful education. (414 US 563, 566). Despite the legal requirement that non English speaking students be provided with a free and appropriate public education, a s well as the fact that this population is the fastest growi ng group in the school age population, ( Buckley & Sattin Bajaj, 2011 ) , ELL students are significantly underrepresented i n our nations charter schools. A review conducted by Anderson (2017) that examined the available evidence on selective enrollment in U.S. charter schools cites a number of studies that indicate that charter schools tend to serve a lower proportion of ELL's than their " host " district s or nearby schools. According to one of the studies men tioned , META, (2009), "ELL's are Ôconspicuously' missing from Massachusetts charter schools." (Anderson, 2017. P. 538.) Another study , conducted by Laci re no Pacquet , Holyoke, and Moser (2002) , found that "market oriented charter schools serve fewer ELL's than [the DC Schools District] ") (p.1) . After reviewing the available literature and reported studies regarding the 11 Lau v Nichols , 414 US 563 (1974).

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20 enrollment patterns for ELLs between charter schools and neighborhood schools, Anderson concludes that ELLs are, in fact, underserved in cha rter schools, but that any gap that may exist may be attributed to parents selecting schools and not charter schools selecting students. Linguistically diverse families are at an inherent disadvantage when it comes to navigating school of choice programs. A study completed in New York City by Buckley and Sattin Bajaj (2011) aimed to determine if ELL s were underrepresented in charter school s. Their research suggest ed that ELL s are significantly underrepresented in New York Charter schools. For example, in the South Bronx, there were 21.6% of ELL's in the distr ict public school vs. 9% of ELL s in nearby charter schools (Buckley & Sattin Baja j, 2011). However, the authors do not provide any perspective as to why ELL families do not participate in charter school s and what barriers may exist that contribute to enrollment imbalances. Winters (2014) attempted to determine if there is, in fact, an "ELL gap" in enrollment across the charter and neighborhood schools, and if so, why that gap exists. His paper used longitudinal student level data to explain the ELL gap between New York City charter and neighborhood schools. His key findings include d that while a gap did exist, the gap was not primarily due to student mobility between charter schools and traditional schools n or out of New York City entirely. Winters conclude d that the gap was not due to any enrollment data evidence of "counseling ou t", but because ELL students were significantly less likely to enroll in charter schools in gateway grades than non ELL students. The reason, he surmise d , was that p arents of ELL students simply select ed traditional schools over charter schools under the belief that traditional schools would provide their children with better services than charter schools (2014) .

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21 Eastman, Anderson and Boyles (2016) also conclude d that charter schools consistently under se rve ELL students which continue to contribute to the achievement gap. They contend that charter schools selectively advertise and the need to navigate the marketplace for real choice presents a real disadvantage for some families. In 2015, the Californ ia Charter Schools Association issued a report of a comprehensive research project conducted on ELL student enrollment s and academic achievement i n California's charter schools (CCSA, 2015). They reported that their analysis supported two major findings . First, that ELL student enrollment is lower at charter schools with the size of the gap depending upon the charter type, urban vs rural location of the charter, and grade levels; and, second , data compiled over several years indicate that, in general, ELL students perform better in charter schools than in traditional schools. The second finding is particularly intriguing as it suggests that although ELL students are underserved in charter schools, ELL students who do attend charter schools have a better cha nce of improving their performance. In support of this finding, the CCSA (2015) reported on the research conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University in which the ir research confirmed that ELL students at chart er schools performed better i n reading and math than ELL students attending traditional schools . (CCSA, 2015 ). If ELL students do, in fact, perform better in charter schools than in their host neighborhood schools, as some literature indicates , then it be comes even more important to analyze the relative representation rates of ELL students in charter schools co mpared to neighborhood schools. And, perhaps more importantly, to determine why such gaps exist and how can they be closed. If parents and guardia ns of ELL students attending neighborhood schools are made aware that their children will perform better academically in a charter school, it

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22 is only logical to assume that they would do so. If they don't send their children to charter schools then it bec omes essential to determine if there are barriers that prevent them from making the logical "choice" for their children. The Colorado Department of Education reports that during the 2015 2016 school year, ELL students represented 15.4% (or 16,789 students) of the charter school population in Colorado. By comparison, the statewide population was 13.87%. Figure 3 summarizes the data for the attendance of ELL students in charter schools compared to the total ELL population in Colorado between 2011 to 2016. It is interesting to note that in Colorado, the gap between enrollment of ELL students in charter schools and non charter schools w as reduced between 2011 and 2013 and completely reversed by 2016. Ethnic Minorities . Despite attempts to desegregate schools in the United States after the Brown vs. Board of Education United States Supreme Court decision, schools in the U .S. continue to be segregated by race . Casey (2014) maintains that race and class segregation are features of the American #! ## #$ #& #) #" #* #+ $!## $!#$ $!#& $!#) $!#" $!#* -./0120 31/12 W4U$%' ! @ (!?'%&'1/+U'!#2! 31U*4LF!T+1U$+U'!T'+%1'%! "/$,'1/L! J//'1,41U! )F+%/'%!"&F##*L! +1,!"/+/'N4,':!67 88 ! /#!678 9 ! "#$%&'(!)#*#%+,#!-'.+%/0'1/!#2!3,$&+/4#1!56789= !

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23 education al system and the charter model exacerbates the problem by intensifyi ng the move toward greater segregation. The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates ( COPAA, 2012) maintains that in virtually every state and large metropolitan areas of our nation , "charter schools are more racially isolated than traditional public schools" (p. 40) and lament that while charter schools hav e the potential to create innovative models with highly successful publicly funded school programs, there is little doubt that ch arter schools have fallen short in seeking and attaining goals for meeting the needs of integrated diverse populations . Frankenberg & Lee (2003) compared the racial composition of charter schools with that of all non charter public schools using data fro m the National Center for Education Statistics 2000 01 Common Core of Data (CCD) . They analyzed data from sixteen states that had total statewide charter enrollme nts of at least 5,000 students. Charter school students from these states accounted for 95.4 % of the entire U.S. charter school population. Their study found that charter schools in most of the states studied enroll disproportionately high er percentages of minority students, particu larly African American students . Specifically , they found that s eventy percent of all B lack charter school students attend intensely segregated minority schools compared to 35% of B lack students attending neighborhood schools. Latino charter school students were found to be less segregated than their B lack counterpart s. Frankenberg & Lee are not alone in concluding that charter schools have incre ased segregation in our nation's schools. Eastman, Anderson and Boyels (2016) note that charter schools are responsible for "destabilizing one of the most important public inst itutions." (p. 79). Logan & Burdick (2015) cite a number of studies that support the proposition that parental

PAGE 32

24 choice is responsible for a less racially diverse student population w hile acknowledging that "the extent of this effect varies across different states and districts " (p. 325). Whitehurst, Reeves , and Rodrigue (2016) issued a report on their research on the extent of school segregation and the relationship between academic achievement and segregation by income and race . While agreeing with previo us studies that charter schools are more racially and economically segregated than traditional schools, they report that B lack and poor students have dramatically higher levels of achievement than comparable students a ttending regular public schools . Inde ed, a number of significant studies confirm that attending high quality charter schools can be significantly beneficial for individual disadvantaged student groups. The CREDO (2013) 26 state study mentioned previously herein is one such study . It reported that "black students É received significantly more days of learning each year in charters than their virtual twin [neighborhood schools ] in both reading and math" (p. 17). Moreover, B lacks and Hispanic students in poverty "gained substantial learning adva ntage in charter schools compared to their twins i n [neighborhood public schools] " (p. 17). Clark, Gleason, Tuttle , and Silverberg (2015) also similarly concluded that c harter schools in urban areas or serving more disadvantaged populations had more positi ve impacts than those in non urban areas or serv ing more advantaged populations . As was the case with ELL students, it becomes important to examine the relative attendance rates of ethnic students at charter schools compared to neighborhood schools since t his subgroup of historically disadvan taged students appear to benefit from attendance at charter schools. C harter schools are losing an opportunity to better educate historically disadvantaged students if they continue to allow barriers to access t hem.

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25 I f charter schools are to be an educational reform that provides an alternative means to broaden access to high quality education, issues of racial/ethnic segregation and practices that create the disturbing patterns of racial isolation in charter schools i n many of our states, É must be closely examined. (Frankenberg and Lee, 2010, p. 38.) The Colorado Department of Education (2016) reports that charter schools operating in Colorado during the 2015 2016 school year served 51,052 racial/ethnic minority stu dents, representing 46.9% of the total schoo l enrollment. Figure 4 illustrates the narrowing gap of the representation of minority students in Colorado Charter schools compared to their attendance statewide. Economically Disadvantaged Students . Economically disadvantaged students confront intrinsic barriers to access charter schools be cause of their economic status. Race and economic status are related and may well compound the barriers to access charter schools. Similarly, it is not unusual for the other student characteristics discussed above to be related to each other, and particul arly to economic st atus. Students from economically disadvantaged families may also be members of an ethnic minority, $! $" &! &" )! )" "! $!!# $!!) $!!, $!#$ $!#* -./0120 31/12 W4U$%'! D (!?'%&'1/+U'!#2! O41#%4/R! "/$,'1/L! J//'1,41U! )F+%/'%L!+1,! "/+/'N4,':!6778!/#!6 789 ! "#$%&'(! )#*#%+,#!-'.+%/0'1/!#2!3,$&+/4#1:!67 89:!.;!@A; !

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26 be ELLs, or n eed special education services. For example, t he U.S. Department of Education report s that "[i]n the fall of 2015, some 713, 000 ELL students were identified as students with disabilities, representing 14.7 percent of the total population enrolled in U.S. public e lementary and secondary schools " (2018). Pearson, Wolgemuth, and Colomer (2015) contend that many Hispanic parents facing "triple segregation" based on race, income s , and language , actually choose to have their children attend highly segregated and low performing schools. Figure 5 indicates the percentage of students in Colora do who are eligible for free or reduced cost lunches in charter schools and the total state enrollment. The graph shows that the percentage of charter school students who qualify for a free or reduced cost lunch has grown steadily, but the gap has closed by half between 2008 and 2016. Nevertheless, the gap (35.9% in charter schoo ls vs., 41.8% statewide) exists as of 2015. A s is the case with other subgroups of SSPs , economically disadvantaged students are underrepresented in many of the nation's charter schools, but those who do attend certain charters schools have impressive achievement gains compared to their peers at neighborhood #! #" $! $" &! &" )! )" $!!! $!!) $!!, $!#$ $!#* 31/12 -./0120 W4U$%'! A (!?'%&'1/+U'!#2!"/$,'1/L!3*4U4Z*'!2#%!W%''!#%!S',$&',!)#L/! T$1&F!41!)F+%/'%L!+ 1,!"/+/'N4,':!6778!/#!678A ! "#$%&'(! )#*#%+,#!-'.+%/0'1/!#2!3,$&+/4#1:!6789:!.;!@9; !

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27 scho ols. The CREDO (2009) supplemental report on school performance in New York stated that "students in poverty enrolled in charter schools do better in reading an d about the same in math compared to their counterparts in traditional public schools." (p. 9). A similar supplemental report of the 2009 CREDO for Colorado, on the other hand, determined that students in poverty enrolled in charter schools perform about t he same in both math and reading as their counterparts in traditional public schools. However, the National Charter School Study (CREDO) released in 2013 which updated and supplemented previous national studies reported that students in poverty benefited s ignificantly by attending charter schools. Indeed, they concluded that students with multiple challenges gained a "substantial learning advantage in charter schools" compared to their counterparts in traditional neighborhood schools. (p. 17). If, in fact, students in poverty actually benefit from attending charter schools, as suggested by the literature, it becomes even more important to determine if economically disadvantaged students in Douglas County are confronted with barriers to access ch arter schools operated by the DCSD. Additional Barriers "In order for charter schools to have a lasting positive impact on America's system of education, charter school officials must ensure that all students, regardless of extraneous factors, É are pro vided equal access." (Weiler & Vogel, 2015, p. 38.) There are extraneous factors and barriers to access charter schools besides being a member of a historically underrepresented student group . These barriers may include enrollment and admission policies, forced volunteerism, mandatory fees, and the lack of transportation . These additional barriers may, in fact, exacerbate the inability of historically underrepresented student groups from attending charter schools. Anderson (2017) reviewed 22 studies of e nrollment

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28 issues related to student achievement in an effort to determine the use of strategic enr ollment practices . Although Anderson concluded that the literature documents that special education and ELL students are underserved in charter schools as a whole , charter schools are not purposefully recruiting the best students. Anderson determined that t he gap in enrollment between charter schools and neighborhood schools is due in part to selection by families and not by schools . On the other hand, Weile r and Vogel (2015) report that their study of Colorado charter schools reveals that Colorado charter schools have created specific barriers to registration that could impede some students from fully p articipating in charter schools . The literature , in fact , is replete with critics of charter schools that discuss extraneous factors and additional barriers to access charter schools. Enrollment and Admission Policies . Lareau (2016) laments that researchers do not sufficiently consider the precise rules that charter schools use for their admission and enrollment process and the degree to which schools control the choice process. To have a chance to enroll, families and students may be required to navigate application processes that are cumbersome, bureaucratic , complex, unnecessary, and in some instances, illegal. Much of the criticism of charter schools have centered on the admission process used by many charter schools. State laws, in order to ensure non discrimination in the selection of students, require the use of "blind" random lotterie s when demand exceeds capacity. The lottery system, however, is hardly random as students who are not able to navigate the application process are automatically exclude d (Fiona, 2010). These students might be homeless, h ave a parent with a medical condition , or are children of addicts . ( Singer, 2017 ). Weiler and Vogel (2015) report that some charter school wait lists and lotteries are problematic because of a lack of transparency. Enrollment procedures vary from school to

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29 school, but some charter schools have a waiting list of students interested in enr olling in a particular school. Levin (1999) too suggested that charter schools should be more transparent with their waitlists to ensure that such lists are not manipulated to enroll the "right" students. The Los Angeles Times highlighted the problems associated with admission procedures to charter schools in California in a scathing editorial critical of some of the state's charter schools' en rollment procedures. They pointed out that some schools required applicants to write five short essays É [ to] " tell us about your family ". " ( Times Editorial Board, para. 2). They further reported that schools also required applicant's parents to submit wr itten essays discussing sensitive and private matters about their child such as medical histories and prescribed medications. They concluded their editorial by stating that these burdensome requirements put low income students at a disadvantage . These ar e not the only enrollment and admission barriers reported in t he literature. The Arizona ACLU (2017) disclosed how Arizona charter schools engage in illegal and exclusionary student enrollment practices i n a report they issued in 2017. Some of their disc losures included the following: applicants required to supply prior academic records, English only enrollment documents, presentation of birth certificates, and the requirement for written essays and personal interviews. In addition to th ese barriers, Reut ers documented that schools require family interviews, assessment examinations, academic prerequisites, requirements that applicants document disabilities or special needs, and the submission of teacher recom mendations and medical records (Simon, 2013 b ) . F orced Volunteerism . The benefits of parental involvement in education have been reported in the literature for decades. The research reported includes: parent involvement at schools, parent child educational

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30 discussion, homework help, time management, and p arent educational expectations (Smith, Wohlstetter, Kuzin , & De Pedro, 2011 ) . The benefits derived from parental involvement include better grades, attendance, attitudes, expectations, homework com pletion, and state test result s ( Smith et al. , 2011 ) . Even though these benefits are well known, there are many parents of students who do not become involved in t heir children's education for a number of reasons. Even so, many charter schools throughout our nation require parents to "volunteer" their time . Smith, et al., (2011) found that many charter schools were using "parent contracts" specifying the number of required volunteer hours ranging from 10 to 72 hours annually from each family. Research completed by Weiler and Vogel (2015) looked at barrie rs to access charter schools in Colorado using data from 2011. Their data indicated that 73 of the 143 charter schools in 2011 required parental volunteer time with 18% of charter schools requiring between 30 and 40 hours each year. Weiler and Vogel cite d research from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (2010) that indicated that many first generation minority parents work multiple jobs. The authors found that the parental volunteer requirement could be a barrier for some families, esp ecially for families that work full time or are unable to take off time. They warn that charter schools officials must realize that not all parents can comply with service expectations . Mandatory Fees . Charter schools are prohibited from charg ing tuition or fees due to the fact that char ter schools are public schools. In looking at charter schools as a whole in Colorado, Weiler and Vogel (2015) indicated that most Colorado charter school fees do not exceed traditional public school fees. However , they reported that six charter schools in their studies exceeded traditional school fees and that could potentially be a barrier for low socioeconomic status families.

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31 Various law suits have been filed throughout the country regarding the fees charged at charter schools. For example, i n the Florida Hillsborough County School District, the district made national news because of reports of repeated incidents of parents wi thdrawing their children because they were unable to pay excessive fees at charter schools ( Tampa Bay Times , 2013). State courts in Florida have held that charging tuition or excessive registration fees for attendance at a public school is a violation of their state law ( Tampa Bay Times , 2013). Transportation . Colorado does not legally require charter schools to provide transportation for its charter school students, except as otherwise required by specific state or federal law s (e.g. , for students with t ransportation as a related service on their IEP ) 12 . If, however, the school does plan to provide transportation, the charter school's application must include a plan that, at a minimum, describes how the school will meet the needs of low income pupils. M ost charter schools do not offer transportation for their students. However, Frankenberg and Lee (2003) suggest that affording free transportation for all students is essential to ensuring that all students can effectively attend charter schools on an equitab le basis. The U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos has publicly acknowledged the need to provide transportation in order to get kids to charter schools. She has been quoted as saying, "transportation is key in order to provide students with access to q uality options." (Robles, 2017). 12 22 30.5 105(1)(m) , C.R.S.

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32 CHAPTER III METHOD S Data Collection The data used for this study was collected primarily from three sources: the Colorado Department of Education, the results of a comprehensive C ommunity S urvey requisitioned by the D ouglas C ounty S chool D istrict (DCSD) Board , and school websites and interviews with school staff. The Colorado Department of Education . The C olorado Department of Education provide s demographic data for the subgroups of histo rically disadvantaged students for all school districts in the state . Specifically, these demographic data include special education students, English Language Learners , students who qualify for free or reduced lunch, and ethnic minorities. A Community Survey Conducted by the DCSD . Corona Insights was engaged in 2016 by the DCSD to conduct a comprehensive community survey to better "[understand the opinions, priorit ies, and perceptions of constituency groups regarding public education in Douglas Count y " ("the Community Survey"). The community survey included 45 Likert scale questions, with many of the questions including sub questions which resulted in well over 100 questions . There was also a f ew open ended questions and questions that allowed for the respondent to cre a te their own answer. The questions were created by the researchers after attending town hall meetings, interviewing school board members, and interviewing students and staff (DCSD, n.d.) A total of 10,648 parents and guardians with children enrolled in the DCSD were sent survey forms. The response rate was 23.3%. ( DCSD, n.d.). The Community S urvey obtained annual income information from parents

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33 by asking participants to report their income within five income brackets . The DCSD Board, however, chose to only publish re sponses for three income brackets by consolidating the two lowest and two highest income brackets . I requested that DCSD supplement the survey results by reporting responses broken out by the five original income brackets. However, DCSD would not do so w ithout being paid a large fee to assemble the additional data. Accordingly , responses from households with the lowest incomes were not included separately in this study but are lumped into the results with the next highest income bracket. The inability to review and consider the opinion of parents and guardians of lower income households is truly unfortunate as they may have the opinions that the DCSD should most consider. The failure to report their opinions separately can lead one to believe the DCSD is either not interested in their opinions or are unwilling to consider those opinions. School Websites and Interviews with School Staff . In order to fully understand and describe the barriers reported in the Community Survey, school websites were accessed to collect additional information regarding initial enrollment procedures, required parental volunteer hours, mandatory school fees, a nd transportat ion availability. Answers to t he following questions were sought by accessing inform ation from school websites , requesting information via email, and/or speaking directly with school administrators : 1. ! What are the school fees charged for each grade? 2. ! What is the kindergarten tuition? 3. ! Is there a reduction of fees for kindergarten or school fees if a family qualifies for free and reduced lunch? 4. ! What parent volunteer hours are required? 5. ! What transportation is available? 6. ! What is the admission process? 7. ! What afte r school programs are available? 8. ! Are uniforms required?

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34 Procedure Most of the data and information gathered for this study were obtained from websites maintained by individual schools. If the information needed for t he study was not available from the we bsites , telephones calls were made to school administrative staff. If the information requested was still not made available , formal requests were made in accordance with the Colorado Open Records Act , (CORA), ¤¤ 24 72 201, et seq. , C.R.S. CORA requests w ere necessary in only a small number of cases. Charter schools typically serve students from preschool through eighth grade while traditional elementary neighborhood schools serve students from preschool through 5 th or 6 th grade. Charter school data used in this study included preschool through 8 th grade, except in two cases where the charter school was preschool through 12 th grade. Data for neighborhood schools included preschool through 5 th or 6 th grade. Neighborhood middle schools were not included in the study. The following inform ation was collected from the Colorado Depar tment of Education (CDE) website : the number of special education students in each elementary school (identified as students with a current Individual ized Education Program 13 ); the number of students in each elementary school that qualified for free or reduced lunch (qualification was determined by each school using the DCSD Free and Reduced Breakfast/Lunch Program qualifications guidelines ); 13 An IEP, or Individualized Education Program , is a legally required document that is developed for each public school child who needs special education. The IEP is created through a team effort and reviewed periodically. An IEP defines the individualized objectives of a child who has been determined to have a disability or requires specialized accommodation, as defined by federal regulations. The IEP is intended to help children reach educational goals more easily than they other wise would. In all cases the IEP must be tailored to the individual student's needs as identified by the IEP evaluation process, and must especially help teachers and related service providers understand the student's disability and how the disability affe cts the learning process .

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35 the number of ELL students in each school (identified as students who are learning in at least two languages) ; and the number of minority students (non white students) . The data used in this study was for the 2017 2018 schools year except for the data used for the three American Academy charter schools which was for the 2018 2019 school year. The reason for this is that American Academy originally aggregated their data for their three campuses and when asked to report their data separately for each campus, they prov ided the data for the 2018 2019 schools year. CDE reported some data as "na" (not available) for a small number of categories in order to not violate student confidentiality. The concern for not reporting the actual enrollment numbers was that a small number of students fell into certain categories making it possible to ascertain the identity of those students. The lowest number of students reported by an y school in any category was 16 students. Thus, it was assumed that whenever "na" was reported in any category, the actual number of students was 15 or fewer. To proceed with the analysis and calculations, the data reported as "na" were replaced with "7" as that is approximately half way between 1 and 15. Data regarding the costs of kind ergarten and student fees were collect ed by reviewing each school's website or directly questioning school administrators by phone. Additionally, a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request was filed with the DCSD to request th at one charter school provide their data separately rather than aggregated for their three campuses. These data were provided following multiple requests and payment of a fee to the school. All data collected were grouped into three tracts matching the three planning areas created by the DCSD for the administration of all schools within the District.

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36 Analysis Descriptive statistics were used t o evaluate the difference s between the SSP s attending charter schools and non charter schools . Dissimilarity Index (DI) calculations were u sed to compare access and as a measure of segregation for SSP s in charter schools compared to non charter schools within the DC SD. It is most commonly used to measure segregation within a neighborhood, community or city. As a segregation index, it measur es the deviati on of each location's SSP composition from the overall population composition. One of the advantages of the use of a DI is its straight forward interpretation. The calculation yields a number between one and zero, where the lower numbers denote less segregation. Thus, the lower the index value, the more closely the school level proportions of each group mirror the proportions in the entire district. The index sh ows the proportion of students who would have to transfer schools in order for the schools to equalize the distribution of groups across locations. (Roberto, 2015 ; Whitehurst, Reeves, & Rodrigue, 2016 ). DI and d escriptive statistics were examined from two neighboring school districts with similar sized student populations (the largest school district in Colorado, the Denver Public School District (DPS) , and the second largest in Colorado, the Jeff erson County Schools District (JCSD) ). The DI analyses were also conducted to measure the relative segregation across the three planning areas used by the DCSD . The DI equation used for this analysis was : D ! " # $ % &' () * +' ,) . . . . . . . / 0 1 2 Where: n = number of tracts or special units ai = number of SS populations in the tract or special unit AT= total number of individual SS populations in the district bi = total number of non SS populations within the tract or special unit BT= total number of non SS populations within the d istrict.

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37 To determine whether the differences between the SSPs attending charter schools and non charter schools are statistically significant , the data was subjected to chi square tests. The following equation was used t o calculate the chi square (X 2 ) v alues for the various variables investigated. X 2 = ! (O bserved Ð E xpected) 2 Expected By using a table of critical statistic values for p= 0.05 (95% confidence l evel) with 1 degree of freedom , X 2 value s of 3.84 was used for determining whether the differences were statistically significant. Med Calc Statistical Software was used to confirm the calculations of chi square tests. To better understand the apparent barriers to access school of choice, th e Community Survey data was reviewed and analyzed to determine parental opinions concerning the ability to make real choices about their children's attendance at schools of choice. For example, parents were questioned whether the availability of transport ation was a factor in their school of choice decision. T o fully understand and describe the barriers reported in the Community Survey, school websites were viewed to record information regarding initial enrollment procedures, required parental volunteer h ours, mandatory school fees, uniform requirements, and transportation availability. When the information was not available on the website , administrative staffs at the schools were contacted by telephone to collect the data. In a small number of cases , a CORA request was completed to ac cess the information required . Similar , but less comprehensive information was collected from the two neighboring school districts discussed above to determine the unique nature of Douglas County School District.

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38 CHAPER IV RESULTS Question 1. Is there a significant difference in the SSPs between charter schools and non charter schools in the DCSD ? Data collected and reported by the Colorado Department of Education indicate that t he re are differences in the percentage of SSPs that attend charter schools and non charter schools in the DCSD . Table 4 shows the disparity in attendance of historically disadvantaged students in charter and non charter schools in the DCSD. With t h e sole exception o f the attendance rates of English Language Learners in the North P lanning Area, t he differences, or gap s, between attendance rates at charter schools and neighborhood schools for all SSPs in the DCSD (including the planning areas and neighboring school districts) were determined to be statistically significant , wi th the aid of chi square tests (described in sections below) . To better understand the relative segregation of the di fferent subgroups of historically disadvantaged students with in the DCSD, Dissimilarity Indic es (DI) were calculated for each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39 categorical variable (SSP subgroups), for each planning area within the DCSD, and for Douglas County as a whole, and Jefferson, and Denver counties. ELL Students . A summary of the results of statistical analysis completed for attendance data for English Language Lea rners at charter and non charter schools is shown in Table 5 . *2.6&' W '' ) '''' 4$--2%<'/0'T&7$637'0/%' D:#6"7+'E2:#$2#&'E&2%:&%7 ' ! ! -#$U*+L ! -)"-! Y#%/F! ! -)"-! 3+L/ ! -)"-! E'L/ ! -'1Q'% ! ]'22'%L#1! ! )F+%/'% ! 9;D7 G ! D;
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40 neighborhood schools (or charter ) students would need to transfer in order to achieve a uniform population between charter and neighborhood schools. T he DCSD N orth Planning Area appears to be the best able to serve an equal proportion of English Language Learners. It has a DI of 0.03 compared to the other two areas which had DIs of 0.14 and 0.17. It should be noted that the data for the North Planning Area rela ting to ELL students are not statistically significant. The Denver Public Schools ( DPS ) , compared to the DCSD and the Jefferson County School District ( JCSD ) , appears to be the most successful in creating a uniform distribution of English Language Learne rs in the attendance percentages between charter and neighborhood schools. Only 1.3% of students in either the charter schools or neighborhood schools would n eed to transfer to create a completely uniform distribution of English Language Learners wi thin th e DPS. Special Education Students . A summary of the results of statistical analysis completed for attendance data for Special Education S tudents at charter and non charter schools is shown in Ta ble 6 . These results suggest that the charter schools in the DCSD under serve special educ ation students. Both the DPS and JCSD do a much better job of creating a uniform distribution of special education students among its charter and neighborhood schools than the DCSD . The *2.6&'Y '' ) ''' 4$--2%<'/0'T&7$637'0/%'49&5"26'D;$523"/:'43$;&:37 ' ! ! -#$U*+L ! -)"-! Y#%/F ! -)"-! 3+L/ ! -)"-! E'L/ ! -'1Q'% ! ]'22'%L#1! ! )F+%/'%!G ! A;CC G ! A;A< G ! 9;<7 G ! D;@A G ! B;
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41 percentage difference in the enrollment of special education student s in the DCCSD charter and neighborhood schools was 8.34%. The Dissimilarity Index for t he DCSD was determined to be 0. 1966 suggesting that almost 1 in 5 students would need to transfer to make the percentage of special education students equal between th e ir neighborhood and charter schools. Specifically, 810 special education students currently attending neighborhood schools would need to move to charter schools. All charter schools in the planning areas in the DCSD fail to serve the requisite number of special education students to evenly serve a proportionate level of special education students in each planning area. Student Eligible for Free or Reduced Lunch . A summary of the results of statistical analysis completed for attendance data for students eligible for Free or Reduced Cost Lunches at charter and non charter schools is shown in Table 7. These results suggest, again, that the DCSD charter schools are under serving SSPs by a statistically significant amount . Based on this analysis , the DCSD charter schools are under serving students who are eligible for free or reduced cost lunches. The disparity between the percent of students served by neighborhood schools and charter schools is 7.41%. The DI was calculated to be .2006; meaning that 20% or 707 ELL students would need to transfer from *2.6&' M '' ) ''' 4$--2%<'/0'T&7$637'0/%'!%&&'/%'T&;$5&;'1/73'E$:5+'43$;&:37 ' ! ! -#$U*+L ! -)"-! Y#%/F ! -)"-! 3+L/ ! -)"-! E'L/ ! -'1Q'% ! ]'22'%L#1! ! )F+%/'%!G ! D;CA G ! D;99 G ! A;@D G ! @;B9 G ! 97;B
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42 neighborhood school to charter schools more stu dents tha n are currently served by charter schools in the DCSD (666). Conversely, t he DPS appears to be doing a good job of serving students eligible for free or reduced cost lunches. With a Dissimilarity Index of 0 .0326 , it is clear that DPS charter schoo ls are serving students eligible for free or reduced cost lunches relatively well. Indeed , the charter schools in DPS serve a larger percent of these students than its neighborhood schools. Ethnic Minority Students . A summary of the results of statistica l analysis completed for attendance data for minority students at charter and non charter schools is shown in Table 8 . *2.6& ' V '' ) ''' 4$--2%<'/0'T&7$637'0/%'N":/%"3<'43$;&:37 ' ! ! -#$U*+L ! -)"-! Y#%/F ! -)"-! 3+L/ ! -)"-! E'L/ ! -'1Q'% ! ]'22'%L#1! ! )F+%/'%!G ! 6C;D7 G ! 88;77 G ! @7;96 G ! 67;D7 G !
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43 Question 2. To what extent do SSPs confront barriers to access charter schools in Douglas County? Barriers to Access Charter Schools . The Community Survey asked parents and guardians of students in the DCSD to generally rate the quality of education that their children receive. Table 9 shows the results of that request: *2.6&'Z ' R ' T23&'3+&'/C&%266'[$26"3<'/0'&;$523"/:'9%/C";&;> ' ' ' S66' T&79/:7&7 ' *%2;"3"/:26' ' 45+//6 ' 1+2%3&%' 45+//6 ' \&%<'P//; ' K( X ' KL X ' KUX ' P//; ' UY X ' UY X ' UZX ' 4/$%5&F'1/--$:"3<'4$%C& M >( ' Table 9 shows that 67% of parents and guardians of children attending schools in the DCSD ge nerally rate the quality of education that their children receive to be " very good " or " go o d " . Another question asked parents and guardians to rate their support for charter schools . Table 10 shows the responses received. *2.6&'(L ' R ' ]:;"523&' ' ' ' S66' T&79/:7&7 ' E/^']:5/-&' !2-"6"&7 ' 49&5"26' D;$523"/:' ' 4$99/%3 ' WU X ' WW X ' W(X ' 899/7& ' (Y X ' (U X ' (YX ' 4/$%5&F'1/--$:"3<'4$%C&(L>K ' Support for charter schools was indicated by 54% of all respondents with only 16% of them oppos ing charter schools. These generally positive opinions of charter schools in Douglas County are shared by guardians and parents of children enrolled in special educatio n and in low income households. It is fair to state, therefore, that i n general , charter schools have been well

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44 accepted in Douglas County by parents and guardians of students in the DCSD . Thus, if the charter schools in Douglas County do not serve historically disadvantaged students in the same proportion as the traditional neighborhood schools in Douglas County, it is only logical to assume that there may be barriers that prevent parents and guardians of such students in exercising their choice of schools for their students. Some of the resp onses to the Community Survey help explain to some degree the disparity shown by the demograp hic data and calculated Dissimilarity Indices . For example, one question in the survey asked the parents and guardians of students in charter and non charter schools: "Do you feel like you have a choice in schools for your child?" The responses given a re summarized in Table 11 . *2.6&' (( ' ) ' @/'QV ' ' A significantly lower percent age of parents and guardians of students attending traditional neighborhood schools feel that they have a choice for their children (.12) compared with the parents with children in charter schools , z =19.103, p = .0001. Results suggest that charter school attendance is associated with higher levels of choice Ð or at least perceptions of school choice . R esults also indicate that t he higher the income, the more parents felt they had a choice of schools for their children. Analyses revealed that a significantly higher percentage of parents at the highest income levels reported feeling they had a choice in schools (.05) than those in the lowest income category , z = 6114, p < .0001. Although the Community Survey sought data from

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45 households with incomes of less than $50,000, the DCSD Board decided to combine the two lowest quintiles and two highest quintiles and rep orted results for households with incomes of less than $100,000. The Community Survey did report, however, that 21% of all households with incomes of less than $100,000 actually had incomes of less than $50,000. One can only speculate how those households answered the question regarding their having a real choice in schools for their children. Regardless, significantly more families in the lowest income did not feel they had a choice in schools for their children. Annual household income is not the only fa ctor in parental school choices for their children. The Community Survey reported that there were , in fact , other factors that parents and guardians consider ed to b e important. For example, Table 1 2 summarizes the responses received to the question: "Was t he quality of educational programming a factor in making a school choice for your children?" *2.6&' ( K ' ) ' d27'[$26"3<'/0'&;$523"/:26'9%/#%2--":#'2' 0253/%'":'5+//7":#'75+//6'/%'9%/#%2-_ ' ' ' *%2;"3"/:26' 45+//6 ' 1+2%3&%'45+//6 ' N2e/% ' UMX ' VMX ' N/;&%23& ' KWX ' ZX ' 4/$%5&F'1/--$:"3<'4$%C&QM >( ' ' P arents and guardians of children in traditional schools report ing that the quality of educational programs was a major or moderate factor in choosi ng a school for their children constituted 82% of the total respondents . This percentage is significantly lower than that for parents and guardians with children in charter schools (.14) , z =18.151 , p = . 0001 . The final area examined from the Community Survey related to the perception that charter schools have a positive impact upon the quality of education in the school district. Just over 90% of parents and guardians with children in charter schools reported that charter schools

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46 have had a positive impact upon the quality of education in Douglas County. A significantly smaller percentage ( 46% ) of parents and guardians with children in traditional neighborhood schools had similar positive opinions of the impact of charter school s in Douglas County , z =43.973 , p = .001 . This disparity may be very telling. If parents and guardians are not satisfied with the quality of education their children receive, why don't they choose to send their children to a different schoo l? The answer may well be that there are barriers that affects their decision to freely choose the best educational setting for their children. Admission Procedures . Admission procedure s varied between the 21 different charter schools in Douglas County. S even of the charter schools use the "open enrollment" process facilitated by the D CSD . This process allow s families and guardians to apply to up to four different schools located anywhere with in the jurisdiction of the DCSD (DCSD, n.d.). The four schools chosen may be the student's traditional neighborhood school, any other neighborhood school, charter school , online school , or any other school in the DCSD ( DCSD, n.d.). Each year admission to preferred or alternate schools is offered based on availabilit y. If a student is not offered admission to the student ' s preferred or alternate school because of a lack of availability, the student is placed in a lottery system or placed on a waitlis t un til a position becomes available at one of the four schools cho sen or when the next annual lottery is completed . The number of enrolled students at charter schools is limited by the schools' capacity. The lottery system allows charter schools to determine which students from all th ose interested will be allowed to enr oll in the school. Lotteries are held annually either by the individual schools or the DCSD. Data collected from school websites or staff personal indicated that e very charter school in the DCSD gives priority to students who attended the kindergarten

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47 ope rated by the charter school. In other words, limited spots in a charter school's first grade are filled on a priority basis by students who attended the charter school's kindergarten program even before the lottery system is employed to determine eligible students. All of the charter schools give admission preferences to siblings of current students and current students and some give preferences to children of founding members of the school, children of school board members, district residents, residents of certain feeder schools, and children of alumni . Two typical ways of providing preferences are by moving the preferred applicants to the top of the waitlist or by giving greater weight to the preferred applicant in the lottery process. Table 1 3 shows the various enrollment practices used by ch arter schools in Douglas County . *2.6&' ( Q ' R ' D:%/66-&:3'?%253"5&7'0/%'@/$#627'1/$:3<'1+2%3&%' 45+//67 ' ''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''' ?%253"5&7 ' O+41/+41L!+!N+4/41U!*4L/!/F+/!4L!24%L/!�'!24%L/! L'%Q' ! K ' J11$+*!*#//'%R!2+&4*4/+/',!+/!/F'!L&F##* ! (K ' J11$+*!*#//'%R!2+&4*4/+/',!/F%#$UF!/F'!,4L/%4&/ ! M ' ?%'2'%'1&'!U4Q'1!/#!&$%%'1/!L/$,'1/L!41&*$,41U!I41,'%U+%/'1 ! K( ' ?%'2'%'1&'!U4Q'1!/#!'0.*#R''L a ! &F4*,%'1 ! (Y ' ?%'2'%'1&'!U4Q'1!/#!L4Z*41UL!#2!&$%%'1/! L/$,'1/L ! K( ' ?%'2'%'1&'!U4Q'1!/#!W#$1,41U!0'0Z'%L!#2!/F'!L&F##*aL!2+04*4'L; ! (Q ' ?%'2'%'1&'!U4Q'1!Z+L',!#1!NF'%'!/F'!L/$,'1/!%'L4,'L; ! Y ' Volunteer Requirements . All of the charter schools in the DCSD report that they encourage parental volunteer time. Only three charter schools do not require specific time commitments. Three of the charter schools reported that the specific time commitments are reduced for single paren ts. One charter school reported that if the family did not complete their 30 required hours, they would be sent an invoice for $300. The specific time commitments as explained to me are summarized in Table 14.

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48 Mandatory Student Fees . Every charter school in the DCSD requires some fees. In fact, some of the schools refer to the fees as tuition, whereas other s state that they are a tuition free school , but levy fees. The annual fees of charter schools reported in the DCSD range from $20 to $520, with an average of $173 . By comparison, traditional neighbo rhood schools in DCSD charg e minimal fees ranging between zero to approximately $25 annually. Table 1 5 set forth the mandatory fees that are imposed by the various charter schools in the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f/$%7'T&[$"%&; ' # Y#1' ! Q ' 7 \ B!M#$%L ! ,/:& ' 87 \ 8B!M#$%L ! ( ' 67 \ 6B!M#$%L ! Q ' @7!#%!O#%'!M#$%L ! ( ( ' ".'&42R!/F+/!/F'%'!+%'!*'LL!F#$%L!%'f$4%',!2#%!L41U*'!.'%L#1L ! Q '

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49 The Community Survey specifically asked if "costs associated with the school" was a factor when choosing a program or school for their children? The responses are summarized in Table 1 6 . H ouseholds with low er incomes consider the costs associated with schools to be more important factors in making a school choice for their children than households with the highe st incomes , z = 19.566, p < .001 . In fact, 37% of households with the lowest incomes considered costs to be a major or moderate factor in making a choice while only 21% of households in the highest income bracket. Cost of Kindergarten . The vast majority of traditio nal neighborhood schools charge les s for full time kindergarten than charter schools. The average fe es at charter schools were $4100 per year (one school was free and excluded from the average) , whereas the average neighborhood school cost of full time kindergarten was $3300 per school yea r ( three schools were free and excluded from the average) . Additionally, neighborhood schools waive the fees for families that qualify for free or reduced lunch, whereas there were no charter schools that waive the fees. When t he charter school staff wer e questioned if the fees, or any part of them, are waived for students from households eligible for free or reduce d cost lunch, one staff member responded that "some scholarships are availab le" and two other staff members indicated that it "depends." They were not, however, able to explain how scholarship s are awarded or upon what the waivers "depend." Students from low income households clearly face a real barrier in order to attend kindergarten *2.6&'(Y ' ) ' d27'5/73'2'0253/%'":'5+//7":#' 2' 75+//6'/%'9%/#%2-_ ' ' ' ]:5/-&'''''''''''''' `a(LLb ' ]:5/-&''''''' ca(LL'3/'`' aKLLb' ' ]:5/-&'''''''''''' aKLLg ' N2e/% ' (MX ' (LX ' VX ' N/;&%23& ' KLX ' (MX ' (QX ' 4/$%5&F'1/--$:"3<' 4$%C&QM >V '

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50 in either charter or neighborhood school s . Three or f our tho usand dollars of disposable income for the cost to send a child to kindergarten is likely impossible for many low income families. As noted above, all the charter schools in the DCSD give an admission preference to current students, including students tha t attend their kindergarten program. Thus, the ability to send a child to a charter school kindergarten program becomes extremely important, and practically essential, if a parent wishes to send their child to a charter school. If a family does not have t he financial resources to send their child to a $4,000 a year kindergarten program, their chances of being able to exercise their right to "choose" a charter school for their child's elementary education is greatly reduced. Table s 1 7 and 1 8 present the cos t of kindergarten charged by charter schools in the DCSD. *2.6&'( M ' R ' 1/73'/0'b":;&%#2%3&:' R ' 1+2%3&%'45+//67 ' Cost * J0'%4&+1!J&+,'0R \ ! )+L/*'!?41'L ! PD:@67! ! PD:@67! ! J0'%4&+1!J&+,'0R! b T41&#*1!O'+,#NL ! PD:@67! ! PD:@67! ! J0'%4&+1!J&+,'0R! b ! ?+%I'% ! PD:@67! ! PD:@67! ! JL&'1/!)*+LL4&+*!3,$&+/4#1 ! PD:777! ! g-'.'1,Lh ! JL.'1!c4'N!J&+,'0R ! PD:777! ! PD:777! ! H'1!W%+1I*41!J&+,'0R ! PD:@77! ! PD:@77! ! )F+**'1U'!/#!3^&'**'1&' ! PD:677! ! PD:677! ! -)"!O#1/'LL#%4 ! PA:777! ! g"#0'! "&F#*+%LF4.L! JQ+4*+Z*'h ! T'0+1!J&+,'0R ! P@7A7 ! ! P@7A7 ! ! Y#%/F!"/+%!J&+,'0R ! PD:9A7! ! PD:9A7! ! ?+%I'%!)#%'!d1#N*',U' ! PD:977! ! PD:977! ! e*#Z+*!c4**+U' ! W%'' ! W%'' ! S'1+4LL+1&'!3*'0'1/+%R ! P@:987! ! P@:987! ! T#1'!>%''!3*'0'1/+%R ! P@:A77! ! P@:A77! ! ?+%I'%!?'%2#%041U!J%/L!"&F##* ! PD:7A7! ! PD:7A7! ! ?*+//'!S4Q'%!J&+,'0R ! PA:777! ! PA:777! ! "IRQ4'N!J&+,'0R ! PD:877! ! g-'.'1,Lh ! ">3O!"&F##* ! PD:877! ! PD:877! ! E#%*,!)#0.+LL ! P@:977! ! P@:977! ! i!)#L/!42!/F'!2+04*R!f$+*424'L!2#%!2%''!+1,!%',$&',! *$1&F ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

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51 Other Associated Fees . In addition to fees charged, attendance at charter schools requires other expenses such as the cost of mandatory school uniforms and the cost of field trips and experiential programs . Every charter school in the DCSD requires their students to wear prescribed uniforms. No traditional neighborhood schools require its students to uniforms. Many of the charter schools require or "suggest" that students participate on overnight field trips. For example, DCS D Montessori students take a trip in 7 th grade with anticipated cost s of $1300 and in 8 th grade; the anticipated cost is $2500. Transportation . There are no district buses provided to students in any of the charter schools within the DCSD and all charter schools require parents or guardians to drop off and pick up their students. Conv ersely, a ll neighborhood schools provide free transportation to their students. Additionally, students with some disabilities that require busing to accommodate wheelchairs or other medical needs to attend school may not be able to be transported by their parents or guardians. The Community Survey did reveal an important factor that some parents consider when making a choice of school for their children Ð " Does the availability of transportation to and *2.6&'(V ' R ' 1/73'/0'b":;&%#2%3&: ' Annual Fee Number of Charter Schools Number of Neighborhood Schools No Fees 1 3 $2000 $2999 0 2 $3000 $3499 1 17 $3500 $3999 3 21 $4000 $4999 1 2 0 $5000 or More 2 0

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52 from school affect the choice you made for your childr en? " Table 1 9 summarizes the responses received: *2.6&' ( Z ' ) ' d27'3%2:79/%323"/:'3/'2:;'0%/-'75+//6'2'0253/%'":' 5+//7":#'2'75+//6'/%'9%/#%2-_ ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ]:5/-&''''''' ' ' ' *%2;"3"/:26' 45+//6 ' 1+2%3&%' 45+//6 ' `a(LLb ' ' ca(LL'3/''' `aKLLb' ' ' aKLLbg ' N2e/% ' (MX ' (LX ' KKX ' (WX ' (WX ' N/;&%23& ' KLX ' (MX ' (KX ' (KX ' (QX ' 4/$%5&F'1/--$:"3<'4$%C&QM >Y ' P arents and guardians with children in traditional neighborhood schools that considered the availability of transportation to and from school as a major or moderate factor in making a school choice for their children constituted 37% of the respondents . Only 27% of parents with children in charter schools felt the same way about transportation , a significantly lower percentage, z =10.317, p < .0001 . A more direct question was asked in the Community Surv ey regarding transportation . It asked respondents to give their opinion on the need to improve the transportation fleet or elim inate the transportation fee. Table 20 summarizes the responses received. *2.6&' KL ' ) ' 89":"/:'/:'"-9%/C":#'3%2:79/% 323"/:'06&&3'2:;'&6"-":23":#' 3%2:79/%323"/:'0&&> ' ' ' *%2;"3"/:26' 45+//6 ' 1+2%3&%' 45+//6 ' ]:5/-&'''''''''''''' `a(LLb ' ]:5/-&''''''' a(LLb'3/' aKLLb ' ]:5/-&'''''''''''' aKLLbg ' ]'.&6"&C&'"3'"7':&&;&;'2:;' ^/$6;'299%/C&'2'32O' ":5%&27&> ' QMX ' QQX ' QVX ' QMX ' QQX ' ]'.&6"&C&' "3'"7':&&;&;B'.$3' ^/$6;',8*'299%/C&'2'32O' ":5%&27&> ' QKX ' Q(X ' QUX ' Q(X ' KZX ' ]'.&6"&C&'3+23'"3'"7',8*' :&&;&;B'.$3'^/$6;'7$99/%3' 2'32O'":5%&27&> ' WX ' UX ' UX ' WX ' MX ' ]'.&6"&C&'3+23'"3'"7',8*' :&&;&;'2:;']'^/$6;',8*' 7$99/%3'2'32O'":5%&27&> ' (WX ' (YX ' (KX ' (WX ' KLX '

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53 Not surprisingly, a significantly higher percentage of parents and guardians with children in charter schools support improving the transportation fleet and eliminate transportation fees than parents with children attending traditional neighborhood schools , z= 4.237 , p < .0001 . Also, households in the lowe st income category favor improving the transportation system at a much greater percentage than those in the highe st income households , z =5.297, p = .0001 . Other Barriers . In addition to the above discussed barriers, there are some additional barriers that are less measurable. For example, some chart er school applications specify that students must be toilet trained in order to attend their kindergarten program . This is a considerable barrier for students with certain disabilities. No traditional neighborhood school has this requirement. S ome charter schools ask specific questions relating to the applicant's learning issues . Other charter schools insist on being able to review the applicant's 504 or IEP plan prior to admission. Ascent Classical Education state d that applicants could not be accepted if they had previously been expelled from another school with in the last 12 months . Research Question 3. Are the enrollment rates of SSPs in the DCSD charter and neighborhood schools similar to the enrollment rates in neighboring school districts? Or, is the DCSD unique? The demographics of the Douglas County population are certainly different than the demographic character of the general population . Table 1 shows how t he average resident of Douglas County is different than the average resident of Denver, Colorado or the United States. Douglas County is certainly unique considering the demographic characteristics of its residents. However, the results of this research study indicate that the Douglas County School District (DCSD) is not unique when comparing the enrollment rates of SSPs in charter and neighborhood

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54 schools in the DCSD with the Denver School System (DPS) or with the Jefferson C ounty School District (JCSD). The results indicate that there is, in fact, a significant difference in the attendance rates of certain SSPs attending charter schools and neighborhood schools in the DCSD. The results are not unlike the disparities reported by the Denver School System (DPS) and the Jefferson County School District (JCSD) . Tables 5 through 8 show the comparisons between the three school districts in their ability to serve English Language Learners, Special Education Students, low income stude nts, and minority students.

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55 CHAPTER V DISCUSSION I began this research paper with certain impressions and opinions regarding the rapid expansion of cha rter schools in Douglas County. My main concerns and opinions at that time were that students a ttending charter schools perform better and thus are provided more educational opportunities than students attend ing traditional neighborhood schools; that the rise of charter schools would compete with traditional neighborhood schools for stude nts and cause neighborhood schools to close; and, that charter schools, at least in Douglas County, would cater to its overwhelmingly white and wealthy inhabitants and neglect to provide an appropriate education to Special Student Populations ( SSPs ) . My r esearch concentrated upon the last concern: whether there is a significant difference in the enrollment of SSPs between charter schools and non charter schools in the DCSD and what barriers, if any, are confronted by SSPs to attend the charter schools in t he DCSD . While a comparison of academic performance of students attending charter schools versus traditional neighborhood schools was not the main subject of my research, the literature review I conducted as part of this research leads me to conclude tha t the reported research on the comparative performance of students attending charter schools versus traditional neighborhood schools is inconclusive . Much of the literature indicates that comparisons of academic performance of students attending charter sc hools and students attending traditional neighborhood schools are inconclusive, ( Xiang & Tarasawa (2015)), are of unequal quality (Cohodes (2018)), or are inherently difficult to research (Malkus (2016)) . T here are studies that conclude that some historically disadvantaged students benefit from attending charter schools. For example, the most comprehensive research into this issue has

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56 been the Stanford Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) studies (2009, 2013) . The report issued in 201 3 was an updated and expanded view of charter school performance in the United States. The participating states educate 95 % of the nation's charter school students. The report concluded that students living in poverty, B lack students, Hispanic students , En glish language learner (ELL) students and special education students "find better outcomes in charter schools." (p. 85). Of particular interest was their conclusion that charter schools show "steady progress in the performance of the charter school sector" (p. 87). Similarly, Clark, Gleason, Tuttle , and Silverberg (2014) found that charter schools in urban areas had more positive impacts upon disadvantaged students than charter schools in non urban areas. The debate regarding the relative student academic performances of students attending charter schools versus students attending traditional neighborhood schools will certainly continue. With respect to special education students in the DCSD , 5.88 % of charter school students receive d special education services compa red to 14.22 % of students in traditional neighborhood schools. The DI for special education students was . 1966 , suggesting that almost one in five special education stud e n ts attending neighborhood schools would need to tra nsfer to charter schools to evenly distribute students in cha rter and traditional neighborhood schools. These findings are consistent with the literature that confirms that students with disabilities continue to be underrepresented in charter schools. (e .g., COPPA, 2012) F amilies interested in choosing to have their children attend a charter school need to be " in the know" of the applicable enrollment process long before their child is old enough to attend an elementary school. This system may be a bar rier for families that are new to the area or are unaware that a lottery may be occurring in December for the following school year. Additionally, families that move to the area over the summer or outside of the lottery time

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57 period , or are simply unaware of w aitlists maintained by charter schools will likely not be enrolled in a charter school. As noted by Frankenberg and Siegel Hawley (2009), "[t]he ability to choose assumes ready exposure to available school options." (p. 6). T he findings of this study have identified other specific barriers that make it difficult or impossible for some families to exercise their right to "choose" a charter school for the education of their children. E xamples of these barriers include levying ex cessive fees to attend a charter school , failure to provide free transportation to and from charter schools , and requiring students to dress in relatively expensive uniforms. Th ese finding s are not a surprise as the literature suggested that such barriers would be encountered. As noted previously, the literature is replete with critics of charter schools that discuss extraneous factors and additional barriers to access charter schools by historically disadvantaged students. See e.g., Winters (2015); Frank enberg, Lee, and Minow (2003); Anderson (2017); and Weiler & Vogel, (2015). The fees charged by charter schools may be a barrier for families that can't afford them. For example, a family with 3 children (grades 2 nd , 4 th and 5 th ) planning to attend the A merican Academy in Parker would be required to pay $900 in addition to the cost of school uniforms. By comparison, at a nearby neighborhood school, Pine Lane Elementary, the same family would only need to pay annual fees totaling of $45 for all three chil dren. In addition, traditional neighborhood schools often waive any required fees if the family qualifies for free lunch or reduced cost lunches for their children. It is unclear if any c harter schools in DCSD are authorized to waive any of their fees e ven if the family is eligible for free or reduced cost lunches. When asked if fees can be waived for students that qualified for free and reduced lunch, charter school employees were uniformly unable to provide clear answers. For example, when asked if s cholarsh ips were available, one school staff member replied that she was aware of some

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58 scholarships having been granted in the past, but was not aware of any process for applying for a scholarship. Another administrative staff member shared that she was n ot sure if scholarships were available, but would ask her superiors at the school. The lack of publicly funded and provided transportation for charter school students certainly creates a barrier for students who cannot rely upon a parent, guardian, or othe r persons to take them and pick them up at school every day. This is consistent with the conclusions reached by Frankenberg and Lee (2003). The bottom line is that a family can h ardly "choose" a charter school for their children if they do not have a way t o get them there. Even if a potential charter school student is not a member of a historically underrepresented student group, the lack of transportation to the school of his or her choice could be the ultimate barrier to access a school of their choice. The lack of transportation should not be a barrier that prevents any student from attending the type of school that best meets his or her needs. The most troubling barrier encountered by this study is the high cost of the fees charged by charter schools f or students to attend their kindergarten programs. Traditional neighborhood schools, if they offer a kindergarten program, charge lower attendance fees and waive fees for students that qualify for free or reduced lunch. The high fees levied by charter sc hools not only discourage or outright prohibit students from low income households from attending kindergarten programs at charter schools; they present a compounding problem and barrier to access those charter schools. As previously noted, all of the charter schools within the DCSD g ive preference to applicants if they are currently attending their charter school. This includes attendance in their kindergarten program. Thus, to improve one's chances of being accepted to a charter school one merel y needs to attend the charter school's kindergarten program, if it can be afforded.

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59 DCSD is unique in the sense that it provides services to students from relat ively wealthy households when compared to other school districts . However, it is apparently n ot unique in its failure to provide its educational services equally to historically disadvantaged students within its catchment areas. While the State of Colorado in general has closed the gap between the percentage of ELL and minority students attendin g c harter and non charter schools (Figures 3 & 4) , the DCSD continues to fail to provide educational opportunit i es for special education students and students from low income households in its charter schools. The Denver Public Schools ( DPS ) is doing a mu ch better job of providing services to SPPs, even though their stude nts generally come from lower income urban households . DPS has been much more successful in closing the gap between attendance rates of SSPs at their charter schools and neighborhood scho ols. In fact, their charter schools have more SSPs than their traditional neighborhood schools. And important difference between DCSD and DPS which may help explain their success is that DPS uses a standard and universal application process for their scho ol of choice admissions process. In addition, and most importantly, DPS provides free transportation to both their charter and traditional neighborhood schools. With respect to attendance in their full time kindergarten programs, all DPS schools charge a fee on a sliding scale depending upon household income. Many schools in DP S , including charter schools and traditional neighborhood schools require students to wear school uniforms, but the uniforms consist of inexpensive t shirts emblazoned with the schoo l logo and colors. N eighborhood schools that require some form of uniforms constituted 37% of the respondents , while 66% of charter schools require some form of uniform. These findings suggests that the DCSD would be wise to determine how the DPS is better ab le to equally serve SPPs in its charter schools . The Jefferson County School District ( JCSD ) ,

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60 whose demographics are somewhat similar to Douglas County, does a better job than the DCSD in equally serving some of their SPPs and a worse job for other SPPs. They too should look to DPS for insight on how to better serve SSPs in their district. Limitations A number of limitation s of this research bear mention. Some of these relate to the nature of the data used in this study. First, n ot all schools r eported their data in a manner that could be properly compared to data supplied by other schools. For example, some neighborhood schools serve students from kindergarten through 5 th or 6 th grade. Charter schools typically serve students from kindergarten t hrough 8 th grade. Compounding the problem is the fact that newly established charter schools may not serve students through 8 th grade until they have been established for a number of years. Since the focus of this study was to compare enrollment numbers o f charter schools and neighborhood schools, the inability to compare "apples to apples" most certainly affect ed the results in some fashion. Second, t he lack of full cooperation by some school administrators impeded efforts to gather needed data and may h ave had an impact upon the results reported herein. For example, the Community Survey provided extensive and relevant information regarding the opinions of parents and guardians relat ing to their perceived ability, or inability, to make school choices for their children. The survey asked respondents for information regarding their household incomes and created five income groups. The results of the survey questions were reported only after the top two and bottom two groups were lumped together so that only three income groups were report ed . As such, analyses could not be made for the lowest and highest income levels .

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61 Conclusions and Future Directions A new charter school is scheduled to open in Douglas County in 2019 which will implement the first lottery focused on enrolling and serving more educationally disadvantaged students. Apex Community Charter School will ensure that their student population will include at least 10% of students with special needs, are English Language Learners , and/or qua lify for free and reduced lunches (APEX, n.d.). This is a promising move on the part of DCSD as there are potential benefits of attending charter schools for some groups of SSPs. However, care should be taken that Apex does not become the place for SSPs t o attend school thereby increasing the segregation and isolation of SSPs. To reduce barriers in th e application process DCSD should require all charter schools to use a standard and uniform application process through the district , similar to DPS, and remove the " waiting lists" maintained by individual schools . This would r educe concerns regarding transparency and ensure the process is equitable for all applicants. As with their traditional public school counterparts, charter schools are re quired by Section 504 and the ADA to ensure equal educational opportunities to all students with disabilities and to break down and eliminate s ystematic barriers to learning (GAO, 2012). Charter schools can accomplish this through the development and impl ementation of policies and practices, innovative strategies, and collaboration with other charters as well as traditional public schools (COPAA, 2012). A final recommendation to the DCSD is that the Community Survey be revised by disaggregating the income profiles of respondents by reporting the lowest income quintile to consider the responses given by parents and guardians that have an annual household income of less than $50,000. Such an exercise might identify actual barriers to access by students from low

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62 income households and to provide much needed insight into the reasons such families do not "choose" to send their children to charter schools. It is difficult to understand why the DCSD chose not to publicly reveal and publish those responses unless t he resp onses proved to challenge the validity of the school of choice movement in the DCSD . That may also help explain the exorbitant fee the district tried to levy when the data was requested as part of a CORA request to complete this study. If c harter s chools in Douglas County are to continue to succeed in providing high quality educational services , and compete with traditional neighborhood schools, they must address the inequalities that exist in access for historically disa dvantage d students including ELL, special education, minority , and economically disadvantaged students . There certainly is no economic rationale for not addressing these inequalities in an affluent school district such as the DCSD.

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63 REFERENCES Anderson, K.P. (2017). Evidence on charter school practices related to student enrollment and retention, Journal of School Choice , 11 :4, 527 545, DOI:10.1080/15582159.1395614. Angrist, J., Pathak, P., & Walters, C. (2013). Explaining charter school effect iveness. American Economic Association, 5 (4), 1 27. doi:10.3386/w17332 . Apex Community School. (n.d.). Retrieved November 20, 2018, from www.apexk8.org . Arizona ACLU (2017). Schools Choosing Students How Arizona c harter schools engage in illegal and exclusionary student enrollment practices and how it should be fixed. Retrieved at www.acluaz.org/SchoolsChoosingStudents . Bennett, W. (2013, April 26). "A Nation at risk: 30 years later." (Speech, Fordham Institute, Washington, D.C.) Barrow, L., & Sartrain, L. (2017). The expansion of high school choice in Chicago public schools, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Economic Perspectives , Vol. 411, No. 5 Buc kley, J., & Sattin Bajaj, C. (2011). Are ELL students underrepresented in charter schools? Demographic trends in New York City, 2006 Ð 2008. Journal of School Choice, 5:1 , 40 65. doi:10.1080/15582159.2011.548242 Casey, L. (2015). The charter school challeng e. New Labor Forum, 24 (1), 22 30. Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO, 2009). Charter school performances in Colorado, Stanford University, California Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO, 2010). school performances in New York City, Stanford University, California Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO, 2013). National charter school study , Stanford University, California Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO, 2015). Charter management organizations , Stanford University, California Clark, M. A., Gleason, P. M., Tuttle, C. C., & Silverberg, M. K. (2014). Do charter schools improve student achievement? Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 37 (4), 419 436. doi:10.3102/0162373714558292 Cohodes , S. (2018). Charter schools and the achievement gap. The Future of Children . Princeton Ð Brookings.

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66 Pearson, T., Wolgemuth, J., & Colomer (2015). Spiral decline or "beacon of hope": stories of school choice in a dual language school. Education Policy Analysis Archives , 23 (25). Retrieved fro m hhtps://dx.doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v23.1524. Rhim, L.M., and McLaughlin, M.J. (2010). Special education in American charter schools: State level policy, practices and theories. Cambridge Journal of Education . https://doi.org/10.1080/03057640120086611 . Roberto, E. (2015). The boundaries of special equality: three essays on the measurement and analysis of residential segregation. Ph.D. Thesis. Yale Universi ty. Robles, Y. (2017). How limited transportation undermines school choice Ð even in Denver, where an innovative shuttle system has drawn Betsy DeVos's praise. www.chalkbeat.org/posts/co/2017/03/21/how limited transpotation undermines school choice . Sarason, S. B. (1998). Charter schools: Another flawed educational reform? New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Singer, S. (2017, July 3). Chart er school Lotteries Ð Why most families don't even apply. Badass Teachers Association. Retrieved at badassteachers.blogspot.com/2017/07/charter school lotteries why most.html Simon, S. (2013a). Charter schools put parents to the test. Reuters . Retrieved fr om https://www.reuters.com/article/us usa parents/charter schools put parents to the test.html Simon, S. (2013b). Special Report: Class struggle Ð How charter schools get students they want. Reuters . Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us usa charters admissions/special report clas s struggle.html Sokol, M. (2013, September 1). Charter schools' fine line on fees. Tampa Bay Times . Retrieved from www.tampabay.com Stiefel, L., Schwartz, A., & Chellman , C. (2008). So many children left behind: Segregation and the impact of subgroup reporting in no child left behind on the racial test score gap. Educational Policy, 21 , 527 Ð 541. Smith, J., Wohlstetter, P., Kuzin, C.A., and DePedro,K. (2011). Par3ent invo lvement in urban charter schools: New strategies for increasing participation. The School Community Journal, Vol. 21, No. 1. Strauss, V. (2017, May 22). What Ôschool choice' means in the era of Trump and DeVos. Washington Post . Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer sheet/wp/2017/05/22/what school choice means in the era of trump and devos/?utm_term=.835ff2633a02.

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67 Times Editorial Board (2016, A ugust 10). [Editorial] The bias inherent in some charter schools' admission process . Torre, K. (2013). Charter s chools and the pr ocess of "Counseling Out" . City University of New York, Graduate Center. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2017). The condition of education 2017, public charter school enrollment. ) Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id30) United States Census Bureau, S tate and c ounty QuickFacts . Retrieved from https://www.ccensus.org/quickfacts/fact/table/us,colorado,denvercitycolorado,douglascou n tycolorado/AFN120212 . Vasquez Heilig, J., Jellison Holme, J., LeClair, A. V., Redd, L. D., & Ward, D. (2016). Separate and unequal? The problematic segregation of special populations in charter schools relative to traditional public schools. Stanford Law & Policy Review, 27 , 251. Verger, A., Steiner Khamsi, G., & Lubienski, C. (2017). The e merging g lobal e ducation i ndustry: Analyzing m arket making in e ducation through m arket s ociology. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 1 (:3), 325 340. Weiler, S. C., & Vogel, L. R. (2015). Charter school barriers: Do enrollment requirements limit student access to charter schools? Equity & Excellence in Education, 48 (1), 36 48. doi:10.1080/10665684.2015.992288 Whitehurst, G.J., Reeves, R., Rodrigue , E. (2016). Se gregation, race, and charter schools: What do we know? Center on Children and families at Brookings. Winters, M. A., Clayton, G., & Carpenter, D. M. (2017). Are low performing students more likely to exit charter schools? Evidence from New York City and D enver, Colorado. Economics of Education Review, 56 , 110 117. doi:10.1016/j.econedurev.2016.12.002 Winters, M. A. (2015). Understanding the gap in special education enrollments between charter and traditional public schools: evidence from Denver, Colorado. Educational Researcher, 44 (4), 228 236. doi:10.3102/0013189x15584772 Xiang, Y., & Tarasawa, B. (2015). Propensity score stratification using multilevel models to examine charter school achievement effects. Journal of School Choice, 9 (2), 179 196. doi:10. 1080/15582159.2015.1028862 Zimmer, R.W., & Guiarin, C. M. (2013). Is there empirical evidence that charter schools "push out" low performing students? Education Evaluation Policy and Analysis, 35 (4)(, 461 480.

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68 2017 Colorado Achievement and Growth Results. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.dcsdk12.org/2017 colorado achievement and growth results .