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What State Directors of Special Education Need to Support Students with Disabilities in Online Education

Posted on Dec 18, 2014


The following is a Proceedings Document based on Focus Group held at the NASDSE Annual Conference, October 2012. Two years ago, state directors of special education gave the Center some direction for our research. They indicated their need to have definitions of online learning and to learn more about online learning in regards to FAPE in the LRE (Free Appropriate Public Education in the Least Restrictive Environment), monitoring, funding, and policy.

Look for the Proceedings Document from the 2015 NASDSE Annual Conference soon.

During the 2012 National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) annual conference held in Sacramento, California, the Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities (the Center), a cooperative research project funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education (OSEP), conducted a focus group with numerous state directors. The session began with a brief overview of what the Center currently knows about online learning and students with disabilities, and with the Center’s charge from OSEP.  Next, Bill East, senior principal investigator and Diana Greer, project director for the Center, guided a focus group discussion using the following questions:

  • What do you need to know regarding online learning and students with disabilities?
  • What research would you like the center to conduct to inform your work in the area?
  • What resources do you need to promote or implement online learning in your state? Read More..

What’s Important to State Departments of Education?

Posted on Dec 16, 2014

COLSD Forum with State Department of Education Staff

On November 18th and 19th, 2014, COLSD brought six state education staff members together to discuss online learning and students with disabilities – Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Virginia. We want to know what they find important in their states, particularly around the following eight topics:

  • Enrollment, persistence, progress and achievement
  • Parent preparation and involvement in their child’s online experience
  • IDEA principles in the online environment (e.g., FAPE, least restrictive environment, parental notification, due process protections)
  • Effective and efficient student response data access, sharing, integration, and instructional usage among those involved in online instruction
  • Effectiveness of teacher preparation in the online learning environment
  • Integration of optimal evidence-based instructional practices; availability of skill/strategy instruction in online environments
  • Utilization of the online environment’s unique properties and affordances
  • Differential access to online learning within and across their state

The state staff members were quite invested in these topics and had a lot to share with us and each other. They talked about how these issues are addressed in their states, how important these topics are, the direction their states are moving in these areas, and the top challenges they face. They also favored us with some ideas for possible research.

In the Comments section, let us know what you want to know about this forum.

A synopsis of the forum conversations will be in an upcoming blog post!

Parent Survey Findings

Posted on Dec 4, 2014

Paula Burdette and Diana Greer of the Center have published their findings from the 2012 Parents’ Survey about their children with disabilities in online learning.

Here’s a short synopsis of the paper:

While research has been conducted on parental involvement in K-12 online learning, none of this research relates specifically to the parents of students with disabilities. Thus, researchers developed a survey around the following constructs: parental roles, instruction and assessment, communication and support from the school, and parental challenges. Researchers then distributed the survey to parents who had a child with a disability enrolled in an online setting. This article describes the survey findings based on 119 qualified responses from across the United States. In general, parents were pleased with the outcomes that their children were experiencing in online learning, but some issues still exist for educating students with disabilities within this environment.

And here’s where you can find the entire paper at the Journal of Interactive Online Learning:

Let us know what you think about these findings. We always love to hear from you!