Difficult-to-educate students present multiple challenges to educators and policy makers. Public schools serve the majority of these students, but they do not educate everyone. Working in partnership with public schools and agencies, the private sector enrolls those students who have not been well served elsewhere. The private sector also serves difficult-to-educate students in the absence of public support. Tuition-based programs and homeschools are viable providers for difficult-to-educate students.

The private sector has spawned a wide variety of schools and programs specializing in meeting the needs of individual students. As school-choice policies become widespread in the delivery of K-12 public education, the number of charter schools and private schools targeting special-needs students will likely grow with demand. Better information about student achievement and other measures of school performance will help educators and families make more informed choices. Under a properly designed school-choice policy, schools catering to particular student needs, would, as they do now, exist for even the most severely disabled, disruptive, or troubled youth. Moreover, this group of students may enjoy a greater number of choices once they (or their guardians) are free to exercise their preferences in a customer-driven system of education.