As a parent of a special education student and a former teacher of special education students, I am SEVERELY disappointed in the often heard response that public students are denied education online because the district cannot accommodate Individual Education Plan (IEP) students. Pennsylvania is one of just a few states that allow e-learning (online).
Here is a little known fact "The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, known simply as PA Cyber, is a public cyber charter school founded in Midland, Pennsylvania in 2000. The school secured a five-year renewal of its charter, from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, in July 2010.After a yearlong review, the school was accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools in 2011. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2012-2013 school year, the Title 1 school reported an enrollment of 10,434 pupils, 1,326 of whom had IEPs. It reported a 50.75 student/teacher ratio. In 2013, the school held three graduation ceremonies and, according to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, PA Cyber graduated 1500 students, 87.7 percent of whom were bound for a post-secondary education." (source Wikipedia)
While SDP continues to say, "it can't be done" as a EXCUSE to not do it, I know it can and HAS been done before. I'm not saying IEP students online learning has been done well. My lawsuit history tells another story... BUT I can share some ideologies to make a smoother transition for IEP students. What I saw in regular school and the very reason my student no longer attends SDP is that IEP students get passed along. As a teacher for 10th grade IEP students at the cyber charter school, I saw a Math teacher attempt algebra when the students had lost all confidence in just ATTEMPTING basic math. The first job of any teacher is to CARE enough to provide the student with the confidence to learn. In order to build that confidence allow students to demonstrate their understanding instead of going right in to teaching material that maybe ABOVE their academic level.
One of the many reasons, IEP students are not successful in traditional brick and mortar schools is the idea that their grade "level" must match that of regular students. This was the excuse I often hear "we don't want a 14 year old in a class of 8 year olds" GUESS what? Online learning allows a 14 year old to be in the same class of 8 year old regular students. WHY- because the online experience ALLOWS students to get individual attention when done RIGHT. Most schools, unfortunately, try to mirror traditional class rooms ONLINE. Online has to be tailored for asynchronous learning styles to provide students individual attention. Don't tell me it can't be done because I have seen it.
Online learning programs such as I-ready (among others) provide teachers the feedback necessary for individual learning plans and teachers can STOP asking the wrong question of "Do you have any questions about the material!!!" When a student doesn't understand, in frustration the student says "I don't understand" and the teacher says "What don't you understand"? and the student says "any of it" and the teacher says "I can't help you unless you tell me what exactly don't you understand". At that point, the teacher has LOST the student (and broken his confidence in his/her ability to learn).
When a student is in the correct IEP class (even if it is still elementary school), the student has more time to grasp the concept so we don't LOSE IEP students (who then get passed along). I tell my children that grades don't matter to me, the love of learning is what counts. Schools are here to teach students HOW to learn for life. Public school students are being shortchanged with no education in the pandemic while SDP is allowed to say Online learning, even with proof that it can and it has, can't be done.