Partnering with a Charter Support Organization to Build Capacity Around Supporting Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners in Charter Schools

Massachusetts Charter Public School Association Logo


The Center partnered with Massachusetts Charter Public School Association (“MCPSA”) to inform efforts to create a “capacity building network” to support students with disabilities and English language learners (“ELLs”) in charter schools. Recognizing that building capacity is critical to identifying and solving the systemic barriers to student learning, determining priority action steps and successfully managing implementation, we worked with MCPSA to design a tool to capture and analyze critical data points to inform decisions and improve service delivery across the network.

Questions guiding this project:

  • What data is available or should be gathered regarding number and types of students with disabilities and numbers and “levels” of ELLs enrolling in charter schools in order to inform service provision?
  • How can we determine whether a program or service is effectively educating the students for which it is designed?
  • What are the indicators that a school has the capacity to develop and implement new services and programs that would allow it to expand its service offerings to new groups of students?
  • What if any opportunities can charter schools leverage to collaborate in order to build their collective capacity to educate students with disabilities well?

Services provided:

Developed a needs assessment tool to collect and analyze data regarding students with disabilities and ELLs to document enrollment and support trends, effectiveness of programs/services, and building-level capacity

Partnered with MCPSA to collect data using the needs assessment tool through site visits and interviews

Reviewed data to inform decisions regarding which programs/services are effective and which schools have the capacity to expand the services offered


Created a strong tool that can be used by charter support organizations and charter schools to gather data and inform decision making

Supported MCPSA’s achievement of its goal to create a network of schools and leaders working to build capacity through peer networking, resource sharing, and professional learning

Established a model that can be used by charter support organizations across the country to develop strong capacity building networks in their own contexts

“The MA Charter Public School Association had the pleasure to work very closely with The Center for Learner Equity for three years on an initiative to help build school capacity around Special Education and English learners. We couldn’t have asked for better thought partners on the strategy and implementation of some of our efforts. The national perspective that they provided was invaluable and helped shape the work in MA.”

Lina Musayev, Managing Director, Capacity Building Network Massachusetts Charter Public School Association