By the numbers: Special education enrollment in Twin Cities charter and district schools


About the data: This data page contains charts, data and a PDF document with supporting research on the differential enrollment of special education students in Twin Cities charter schools vs. Minneapolis and St. Paul district schools. The first article in the series looks at the numbers and at some of the reasons for the difference. A second article looks at the practice of “counseling out” students with disabilities. In coming weeks, we will follow up with an article examining standard testing, students with disabilities, and school test scores. 

Federal settings for special education

Most special education students are divided into one of four federal categories, related to their need-level.

Setting 1: Kids pulled out of mainstream classrooms for less than 21 percent of the day.

Setting 2: Kids pulled out 21 to 60 percent of the day.

Setting 3: Kids pulled out more than 60 percent of the day.

Setting 4: Kids attend a separate facility.

Setting 8: Kids are homebound or in a hospital placement.

Another set of numbers identify early learners, ages 5 and under, in special education.

In the Twin Cities:

18 percent of Minneapolis and St. Paul district students receive special education, compared to 12 percent of Twin Cities charter school students.

  • Compared to special education students attending district schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul, a higher proportion of Twin Cities charter special education students fall under federal setting 1 [see explanation at top of article].
  • Also, a smaller proportion of charter special education students are in setting 3.
  • 18 percent of district special education students are in preschool. Charters have to jump through extra hoops to work with preschoolers, and most don’t.

A higher proportion of St. Paul district special education students are in setting 3 than Minneapolis district students. Special education professionals in the districts said they are unsure why.

Minneapolis Public Schools, special education


St. Paul Public Schools, special education


Twin Cities charter schools, special education

If we eliminate early learners, and only look at special education students in settings 1 through 8, charters still serve a smaller proportion of setting 3 students, and a higher proportion of setting 1 students.

Total numbers of Twin Cities special education students

Data was collected October 1, 2011 and was processed by the Twin Cities Daily Planet.

See the original, school-by-school data in pdf attached below. 

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