Meeting the Needs of Students with Disabilities in K-12 Online Learning: An Analysis of the iNACOL Standards for Quality Online Teaching

Published on December 4, 2016

Modified on March 17, 2021

Written By: 

Mary F. RiceUniversity of Kansas

|

Daryl F. MellardUniversity of Kansas

|

Jesse R. PaceUniversity of Kansas

Suggested Citation

Rice, M., Pace, J., & Mellard, D. (2016). Meeting the needs of students with disabilities in K-12 online learning: An analysis of the iNACOL teacher standards. Michigan Virtual. https://michiganvirtual.org/research/publications/meeting-the-needs-of-students-with-disabilities-in-k-12-online-learning-an-analysis-of-the-inacol-standards-for-quality-online-teaching/

Meeting the Needs of Students with Disabilities Series: Teaching

This is the fourth report in a series of reports offering suggestions for revisions to iNACOL Quality Online Teaching Standards. The first report is an overview of the entire project, the second report addresses the National Standards for Quality Online Programs, and the third report addresses the National Standards for Quality Online Courses.

Abstract

Currently, many prospective teachers are enrolling in online courses offered through their universities as part of their initial preparation. The coursework in these teacher education programs at institutions of higher education may consist individual classes online through a traditional university or completing degrees in fully online university programs. In fact, according to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Preparation (AACTE), as many as 75% of universities offered online teaching preparation in 2013. However, being prepared with online coursework is not the same as being prepared for online teaching responsibilities (Rice, Mellard, & Carter, 2016). In addition, Kennedy and Archambault (2012) found that only 1.3 % of teacher education programs are preparing teachers for K-12 online teaching. A more recent survey found that this number had only increased to 4.1 % (Archambault, Kennedy, Shelton, Dalal, McAllister, & Huyett, 2016). Further these dismal numbers do not reflect preparation for K-12 online teaching that attends to disability. This report includes a summary of the need for this research and a summary of the methodology but focuses primarily on the findings specific to the iNACOL Teaching Standards.

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the work of additional contributors to and reviewers of the reports:

  • Sandra Albert, Director of Exceptional Children Programs: Rowan-Salisbury Schools, Salisbury, NC
  • Eliz Colbert, Executive Director: North Carolina Virtual Public Schools
  • Mark Deschaine, Assistant Professor, Project Director of the Lifespan Autism Initiative: Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI
  • Sarah Gamble, Executive Director of Academics: Primavera Technical Learning Center, Chandler, AZ
  • Sarah Newman, Supervisor of Special Needs: Georgia Department of Education
  • Sam Slike, Director of Special Education Online Programs: St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, PA

Teaching Standards

This is report four in a series of four reports. Report one develops the research questions, a review of the literature, and the methodology. This report includes a summary of the need for this research and a summary of the methodology but focuses primarily on the findings specific to the iNACOL Teaching Standards. 

Currently, many prospective teachers are enrolling in online courses offered through their universities as part of their initial preparation. The coursework in these teacher education programs at institutions of higher education may consist of taking individual classes online through a traditional university or completing degrees in fully online university programs. In fact, according to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Preparation (AACTE), as many as 75% of universities offered online teaching preparation in 2013. However, being prepared with online coursework is not the same as being prepared for online teaching responsibilities (Rice, Mellard, & Carter, 2016). In addition, Kennedy and Archambault (2012) found that only 1.3 % of teacher education programs are preparing teachers for K-12 online teaching. A more recent survey found that this number had only increased to 4.1 % (Archambault, Kennedy, Shelton, Dalal, McAllister, & Huyett, 2016). Further these dismal numbers do not reflect preparation for K-12 online teaching that attends to disability. 

An additional layer of complexity in online teaching emerges as at-risk students, including many with disabilities, enroll in supplemental online courses, credit recovery, or fully online programs (Miron, 2016). These students need additional support, often highly individualized in nature. In fact, at the end of their review of the literature on instructional delivery with technology for students with disabilities, Israel, Marino, Delisio, and Serianni (2014) stated: 

Regardless of the instructional delivery, barriers to learning [for students with disabilities] should be examined on an individual basis so that teachers can provide instruction that is accessible, engaging, and meaningful. Once teachers identify barriers, they can begin to investigate how to leverage technology to address them. (p. 14; emphasis added) 

The recommendation of these scholars places a heavy responsibility on online teachers to deliver content instruction to students, whether the teachers developed the curriculum being used or not. 

In order to provide some guidance for quality online teaching, the International Association of K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) developed the National Standards for Quality Online Teaching (2011). While many elements of these standards easily apply to students with disabilities, more recent additional research has suggested ways in which online courses can be more effective in helping students with disabilities remain in these programs and be successful. Critical recommendations for K-12 online teachers of students with disabilities included:  

  • Engage in a variety of strategies to monitor student progress through the course and intervene as early as possible when problems arise (Rice & Carter, 2015);  
  • Provide instructional strategies and other specific support to students with disabilities that includes but moves beyond Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs) when appropriate (Collins, Green, Nelson, & Madahar, 2015; Marteney & Bernadowski, 2016);  
  • Assist students in attending to the vocabulary presented and other textual demands (Deshler & Rice, 2015; Greer, Rice, & Deshler, 2015; Rice & Greer, 2015);  
  • Extend opportunities for learner-learner engagement and general social skill development (Borup, 2016; Marteney & Bernadowski, 2016); and  
  • Advocate with vendors and support in-house course designers in making curriculum that is appropriate for students with various exceptionalities (Tindle, East, & Mellard, 2016; Greer, Rice, & Deshler, 2015).

In order to bring issues of disability service to the conversation about online teacher preparation, evaluation, and support, researchers at the University of Kansas undertook a review process to incorporate a newly emerging understanding of how teachers can serve students with disabilities into iNACOL’s National Standards for Quality Online Teaching. The team working on this project thoroughly reviewed the current iNACOL teaching standards, current research, and disability legislation. Team members created recommendations if existing standards could benefit from the inclusion of additional material and revision. An invited sample of experts rated these recommendations via survey and also discussed them via a teleconference with additional experts. 

During the review process, members of the research team placed particular emphasis on identifying individuals who could comment on both online education and students with disabilities. The ratings from the Qualtrics-based review were used to guide the teleconference: standards that were scored low on one or more dimensions were focal points of the conversation. 

Thus, following the above stages of standards review and revision, final versions of proposed revisions to the iNACOL National Standards for Quality Online Teaching emerged. These reports also include a justification for the indicated changes stemming from cited research and law. These suggestions for revision have several important potential implications for improving the learning experiences of students with disabilities in online learning settings. 

Practice Implications 

In practice, the revisions of these standards form the basis by which teachers can be evaluated and supported in their work with students with disabilities. This evaluation can take place both formally and informally in consultation with administrators and other colleagues. In particular, the revisions to the standards empower the teacher to individualize curriculum for students with disabilities and to advocate for that responsibility within their schools. Further, teacher educators and teacher education programs can use the standards to become aware of the knowledge and skills teachers of students with disabilities need for providing instruction online. This information can be incorporated into coursework as well as into practicum experiences in schools.

Research Implications 

When teachers take up roles and individualizing agents for students with disabilities and differentiators of instruction for all students, researchers could study the effects of such stewardship on student learning outcomes. Further, researchers could collect and analyze data on teacher satisfaction and efficacy within these roles as they strive to be guided by the suggested revisions to these standards. Finally, research on whether and how the teachers understand what these standards are asking and how they conceptualize their implementation could be very valuable to future iterations of the standards and to quality online teaching in general. 

Policy Implications 

These revisions to the standards were made with an orientation of particular care and respect for the work that teachers do with students in online learning environments. It was very important during the process to think about what a teacher should do within their professional roles and responsibilities versus what others involved in the online learning process are better positioned to do (administrators, course designers, parents, related services providers, and so forth). Additional consideration was taken for what teachers were prepared to do and what they could do with additional preparation and professional development. From a policy standpoint, we know that not everything we recommend will be easy to implement. But we hope that practice, research, and policy will be mutually supportive in taking up the challenge to implement the standards to the greatest extent possible. Policies around teacher evaluation should consider the ideals and goals of quality teaching against the realities of the online teaching context for students with disabilities as they make judgments about resource allocation and determine the quality of service delivery. 

Data Analysis Documents 

The remainder of this document is comprised of a list of the original program standards, the suggestions determined by professional consensus, and the rationale for those suggestions based on research. This list appears as Appendix A. In addition, this document includes a list of the ratings, the range of the ratings, and the average rating of each of the proposed revised standards. These ratings appear as Appendix B.

References

Archambault, L., Kennedy, K., Shelton, C., Dalal, M., McAllister, L. & Huyett, S. (2016). Incremental Progress: Re-examining Field Experiences in K-12 Online Learning Contexts in the United States. Journal of Online Learning Research, 2(3), 303-326. Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).

Asgedom, M. (2016). Increase ELL success through blended online social and emotional learning. iNACOL Webinar. Retrieved July 20, 2016 from http://www.inacol.org/resource/increaseell-success-through-blended-and-online-social-emotional-learning/

Belair, M. (2012). The investigation of virtual school communications. TechTrends, 56(4), 26-33.

Brownell, M. T., Sindelar, P. T., Kiely, M. T., & Danielson, L. C. (2010). Special education teacher quality and preparation: Exposing foundations, constructing a new model. Exceptional Children, 76(3), 357-377.

Borup, J. (2016). Teacher Perceptions of Learner-Learner Engagement at a Cyber High School. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 17(3). Retrieved July 20 from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/2361/3694

Center for Applied Special Technology. (2011). About UDL. Retrieved from http://www.cast.org/publications/UDLguidelines/version1.html 

Catts, H. W., Petscher, Y., Schatschneider, C., Bridges, M. S., & Mendoza, K. (2008). Floor effects associated with universal screening and their impact on the early identification of reading disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities.

Collins, K. M., Green III, P. C., Nelson, S. L., & Madahar, S. (2015). Cyber charter schools and students with dis/Abilities: Rebooting the IDEA to address equity, access, and compliance. Equity & Excellence in Education, 48(1), 71-86.

Colorado, J. T., & Eberle, J. (2010). Student demographics and success in online learning environments. Emporia State Research Studies, 46(1), 4-10.

Courey, S. J., Tappe, P., Siker, J., & LePage, P. (2013). Improved lesson planning with universal design for learning (UDL). Teacher Education and Special Education, 36(1), 7-27.

Dawson, P., & Guare, R. (2010). Executive skills in children and adolescents: A practical guide to assessment and intervention. Guilford Press.

Deshler, D. & Rice, M. (2015, April). Exploring the nature of vocabulary support in online earth science courses for secondary students with reading disabilities. Presentation at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Chicago, IL.

Deshler, D., Rice, M., & Greer, D. (2014, April). Which demographic variables predict final grades for high school students enrolled in online English/ELA courses? Results from a regression analysis. Presentation at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Philadelphia, PA.

Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of

enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82, 405-432. 

Fernandez, H., Ferdig, R. E., Thompson, L. A., Schottke, K., & Black, E. W. (2016). Students with special health care needs in K-12 virtual schools. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 19(1), 67-75.

Fernández-López, Á., Rodríguez-Fóttiz, M. J., Rodríguez-Almendros, M. L., & Martínez-Segura, M. J. (2013). Mobile learning technology based on iOS devices to support students with special education needs. Computers & Education, 61, 77-90.

Greer, D., Rice, M., & Deshler, D. (2014). Applying principles of text complexity to online learning environments. Perspectives on Language and Literacy, 40(1), 9-14.

Greer, D., Rowland, A. L., & Smith, S. J. (2014). Critical considerations for teaching students with disabilities in online environments. Teaching Exceptional Children, 46(5), 79-91. 

International Association of K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) (2011). National standards for quality online teaching. Vienna, VA. Retrieved from http://www.inacol.org/wpcontent/uploads/2015/02/national-standards-for-quality-online-teaching-v2.pdf 

Israel, M., Marino, M., Delisio, L., & Serianni, B. (2014). Supporting content learning through technology for K-12 students with disabilities (Document No. IC-10). Retrieved from University of Florida, Collaboration for Effective Educator, Development, Accountability, and Reform Center website: http://ceedar.education.ufl.edu/tools/innovationconfigurations/  

Jones, M., & Bridges, R. (2016). Equity, access, and the digital divide in learning technologies. In N. Rushby and D. Surry (Eds.) Wiley handbook of learning technology (pp. 327-347). 

Kennedy, K. & Archambault, L. M. (2012). Offering pre-service teachers field experiences in K-12 online learning: A national survey of teacher education programs. Journal of Teacher Education, 63(3), 185-200. 

Lynch, R., & Dembo, M. (2004). The relationship between self-regulation and online learning in a blended learning context. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 5. Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/189/271 

Marteney, T., & Bernadowski, C. (2016). Teachers’ perceptions of the benefits of online instruction for students with special education needs. British Journal of Special Education, 43, 178-194. 

Miron, G. (2016). Review of the policy framework for online charter schools. National Education Policy Center. Retrieved from http://nepc.colorado.edu/files/reviews/TTR%20Miron%20Online%20Charters_0.pdf 

Messick, S. (1995). Validity of psychological assessment: validation of inferences from persons’ responses and performances as scientific inquiry into score meaning. American Psychologist, 50, 741-749.

Rice, M., East, T., & Mellard, D.F. (2015). Teacher preparation and promising practices: Superintendent forum proceedings (Report No. 7). Lawrence, KS: Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities, University of Kansas.

Rice, M. F., & Carter Jr, R. A. (2015). “When we talk about compliance, it’s because we lived it”: Online educators’ roles in supporting students with disabilities. Online Learning Journal, 19, 18-36.

Rice, M., & Greer, D. (2014). Reading online: Comprehension has new meaning for students with disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children, 46(5), 93-101.

Rice, M., Mellard, D. & Carter, R. A., Jr. (2016). IDEAlly prepared: Working toward special education teacher preparation for online learning. Lawrence, KS: Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 34 C.F.R. Part 104.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. § 794 (d)).

Tindle, K., East, T., & Mellard, D.F. (2016). Instructional practices: Integration of optimal evidence based practices. Vendor Forum Proceedings Series (Report No. 8). Lawrence, KS: Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities, University of Kansas.

Vasquez, E., & Serianni, B. A. (2012). Research and practice in distance education for K-12 students with disabilities. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 31(4), 33-42.

Wendling, B. J., & Mather, N. (2009). Essentials of evidence-based academic interventions. Hoboken, NJ. John Wiley & Sons.

Weston, M. E., & Bain, A. (2010). The end of techno-critique: The naked truth about 1:1 laptop initiatives and educational change. The Journal of Technology, Learning and Assessment, 9,5- 25.

Appendix A
Suggested Changes to Teaching Standards and Accompanying Justifications

A

Current Standard

The online teacher knows the primary concepts and structures of effective online instruction and is able to create learning experiences to enable student success.

No suggestions for modifications to this standard

A-1

Current Standard

The online teacher knows and understands the current best practices and strategies for online teaching and learning and their implementation in online education.

Recommended Revision to Standard

The online teacher knows and understands promising practices and strategies for online teaching and learning and their implementation for general and special populations in online education.

Justification

School administrators indicate that online teaching has unique complexities not present in traditional schooling, and that those working with students with disabilities online need not only understand what their brick-and-mortar counterparts understand (i.e., IEPs, evaluations, etc.), but also how these are complicated by the online setting, for example, differences in data tracking (Rice, East, & Mellard, 2015).

A-2 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the role of online learning in preparing students for the global community they live in, both now and in the future. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

A-3 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the instructional delivery continuum (e.g., fully online to blended to face-to-face). 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

A-4

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the need for continuing to update academic knowledge, pedagogy, and skills. 

Recommended Revision to Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the need for continuing to update academic knowledge, pedagogies, skills, and legal understandings. 

Justification 

Because online learning, and thus the skills necessary to work in it and the laws surrounding it, change rapidly, teachers need to stay up-to-date (Rice & Carter, 2015). 

A-5 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the subject area and age group they are teaching. 

Recommended Revision to Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the subject areas, subgroup characteristics (e.g., disability, ELL, low-SES), and age groups of the students they are teaching. 

Justification 

Different subgroups have different learning needs, and students benefit when these are considered (e.g., Asgedom, 2016; Wendling & Mather, 2009). 

A-6 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the professional responsibility to contribute to the effectiveness, vitality, and self-renewal of the teaching profession, as well as to their online school and community. No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

Current Standard 

The online teacher understands and is able to use a range of technologies, both existing and emerging, that effectively support student learning and engagement in the online environment. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard

B-1

Current Standard

The online teacher knows and understands the use of an array of grade-appropriate online tools for

communication, productivity, collaboration, analysis, presentation, research, and content delivery.

No suggestions for modifications to this standard

B-2 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the use of emerging technologies in a variety of mediums for teaching and learning, based on student needs. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

B-3 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the importance of interaction in an online course and the role of varied communication tools in supporting interaction. 

Recommended Revision to Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the importance of interaction and social skill development in an online course and the role of varied communication tools in supporting interaction. 

Justification 

Social/emotional learning can help drive achievement for ELL students (Asgedom, 2016). Social interactions (e.g., friendship, collaboration) increase academic motivation (Borup, 2016). 

B-4 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands basic troubleshooting skills and the responsibility to address basic technical issues online students may have. 

Recommended Revision to Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands basic troubleshooting practices and undertakes the responsibility to address basic technical issues associated with online courses that students and parents may have. 

Justification 

Technology is a tool that should be thought of as enabling, empowering, and accelerating the teaching profession’s core transactions. Teachers thus have responsibility for this technology (Weston & Bain, 2010). 

B-5 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the need to continuously update their knowledge and skills for using the evolving technology tools that support online learning. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard

Current Standard 

The online teacher plans, designs, and incorporates strategies to encourage active learning, application, interaction, participation, and collaboration in the online environment. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

C-1 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the techniques and applications of online instructional strategies, based on current research and practice (e.g., discussion, student-directed learning, collaborative learning, lecture, project-based learning, forum, small group work). 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

C-2 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the process for facilitating, monitoring, and establishing expectations for appropriate interaction among students. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

C-3 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the techniques for developing a community among the participants. 

Recommended Revision to Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the techniques for developing inclusive communities among students with varied social and academic skills. 

Justification 

Online instruction should be designed to meet the academic and non-academic needs of students with disabilities through a student-centered learning approach that increases academic performance and student engagement (Vasquez & Serianni, 2012). 

C-4 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the process for facilitating and monitoring online instruction groups that are goal-oriented, focused, project-based, and inquiry-oriented to promote learning through group interaction. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard

C-5 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands techniques to adjust communications to diverse perspectives. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

C-6 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands techniques to create an environment that will engage, welcome, and reach each individual learner. 

Recommended Addition to Standard 

The online teacher can notice when remediation is necessary and can access resources through the course or use additional ones with ease. 

Justification 

Technology allows a teacher to personalize classroom activities to students (Weston & Bain, 2010). 

C-7 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the participation in an online course from a student centered approach. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

C-8 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the need to establish and maintain ongoing and frequent teacher-student interaction, student-student interaction, teacher-parent interaction, and teacher-mentor interaction. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

C-9 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the techniques and applications of online instructional strategies, based on current research and practice (e.g., discussion, student-directed learning, collaborative learning, lecture, project-based learning, forum, small group work). 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard

Current Standard 

The online teacher promotes student success through clear expectations, prompt responses, and regular feedback. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

D-1 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands techniques to maintain strong and regular communication with students, using a variety of tools. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

D-2 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands techniques for using appropriate communications in support of student engagement through prompt and regular feedback, and setting and communicating high expectations. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

D-3 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the need to create and explain objectives, concepts, and learning outcomes in a clearly written, concise format and to explain the course organization to students. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

D-4 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the need to define the terms of class interaction for both teacher and students. 

Recommended Revision to Standard 

The online teacher is proactive about fact-finding (e.g., talking with students and parents, looking at data) in order to determine reasonable goals for student social interaction in online courses. 

Justification 

Social and emotional learning programs have been shown to significantly improve the social and emotional skills of students (Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, & Schellinger, 2011).

D-5 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the need to define the assessment criteria for the course. 

Recommended Revision to Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the measurement standards for the courses and the limitations of measurement for various student populations. 

Justification 

Teachers are using both informal (e.g., CMB) and evidence-based formal assessments to assess students with disabilities (Brownell, Sindelar, Kiely, & Danielson, 2010). Messick’s consequential validity approach requires that more validity information is needed when assessments lead to social consequences (e.g., placement in special education; Messick, 1995). 

D-6 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the need to provide clear expectations for teacher response time to student queries. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

D-7 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the need to establish criteria for appropriate online behavior for both teacher and students. 

Recommended Revision to Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the need to establish criteria for appropriate online work behaviors and time management. 

Justification 

In higher education studies, time management has been shown to predict academic success (Lynch & Dembo, 2004). Executive skills, such as time management, can be improved, and, in brick-and mortar schools, teacher delivered whole class interventions are a recommended practice (Dawson & Guare, 2010). 

D-8 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the need for timely, constructive, personalized feedback to students about assignments and questions. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard

D-9 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands a variety of methods and tools to reach and engage students who are struggling. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

D-10 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the process for aligning teacher and student expectations for the course, in general. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the responsibilities of digital citizenship and techniques to facilitate student investigations of the legal and ethical issues related to technology and society. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

E-1 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the responsibilities of digital citizenship and techniques to facilitate student investigations of the legal and ethical issues related to technology and society. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

E-2 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands how the use of technology may lead to instances of academic dishonesty. 

Recommended Revision to Standard 

The online teacher understands the policies around academic dishonesty and can detect and report suspicious behavior. 

Recommended Additional Standard 

The online teacher provides explicit instruction to students about academic honesty policies and works with students and families to resolve potential issues before reporting is necessary. 

Justification 

Online teachers should know the policies on academic integrity as well as have access to student scores on preliminary academic integrity assessments that students have passed/failed before enrolling in class, (e.g., a module that quizzes students on academic integrity). Students with disabilities should receive support, if needed, to engage with the module (Jones & Bridges, 2016).

E-3 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands resources and techniques for implementing Acceptable Use Policies (AUP). 

Recommended Additional Standard 

The online teacher provides explicit instruction to students about acceptable use policies and works with students and families to resolve potential issues before reporting is necessary. 

Justification 

Online teachers should know the policies on acceptable use as well as have access, potentially via a module on this topic. Students with disabilities should receive support, if needed, to engage with the module (Jones & Bridges, 2016). 

E-4 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands techniques for recognizing and addressing the inappropriate use of electronically accessed data or information. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

E-5 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands privacy standards about other students and their posting and performance that are outlined in FERPA or other similar guidelines. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

Current Standard 

The online teacher is cognizant of the diversity of student academic needs and incorporates accommodations into the online environment. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

F-1 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands legal mandates stipulated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Assistive Technology Act, and Section 508 or other similar guidelines/requirements for accessibility. 

Recommended Additional Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands ways to include students with disabilities in online activities alongside their peers without disabilities to the greatest extent possible.

Justification 

Befriending and collaborating have been identified as behaviors that increase academic motivation (Borup, 2016). 

F-2 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands that students have varied talents and skills and make appropriate accommodations designed to include all students. 

Recommended Additional Standard 

The online teacher is aware that the decision to remove a child with a disability from most or all the online activities that general education students engage in needs to be made by a team which includes the child’s parents. 

Justification 

Parents must be included in all placement changes involving their children (IDEA, 2004). 

F-3 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands appropriate tools and technologies to make accommodations to meet student needs. 

Recommended Revision to Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands appropriate tools and technologies to make accommodations and modifications based on legally mandated service plans and student needs. 

Recommended Additional Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands how to monitor students’ IEP goals and adjust instruction where necessary to help students meet their goals. 

Justification 

Technology should be granted to students to provide them equitable access to the curriculum (Section 508). IEP goals need to be monitored and adjusted as needed (IDEA, 2004). 

F-4 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands how adaptive/assistive technologies are used to help people who have disabilities gain access to information that might otherwise be inaccessible. 

Recommended Additional Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands alternative technologies that grant students with disabilities the same access to educational opportunities as their non-disabled peers. 

Justification 

Technology should be granted to students to provide them equitable access to the curriculum (Section 508). 

F-5

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands options to expand student thinking, address styles of learning, and provide avenues for enrichment or intervention. 

Recommended Revision to Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands options to expand student thinking, provide student choice in learning activities, and provide avenues for enrichment or intervention. 

Justification 

Online learning is a schooling option that allows for personal preference, and this is among the reasons students and families choose online learning (Marteney & Bernadowski, 2016). 

F-6 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the process for connecting with local support personnel to verify student’s IEP requirements or 504 accommodations needed for student success. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

F-7 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the diversity of student learning needs, languages, and backgrounds. 

Recommended Revision to Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands common types of disabilities, cultural differences in participation, and basic aspects of language development, including second language development. 

Justification 

Online teachers should remain current on policies that affect the instruction of students with disabilities in the online setting. Online teachers should determine how best to meet student needs by offering instruction synchronously and asynchronously to ensure the greatest access to a diverse learning population (Collins, Green, Nelson, & Madahar, 2015) 

Current Standard 

The online teacher demonstrates competencies in creating and implementing assessments in online learning environments in ways that ensure validity and reliability of the instruments and procedures. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard

G-1 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands adequate and appropriate assessment instruments to measure online learning that reflect sufficient content validity (i.e., that adequately cover the content they are designed to measure), reliability, and consistency over time. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

G-2 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the implementation of online assessment measures and  materials in ways that ensure instrument validity and reliability. 

Recommended Revision to Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands how to implement valid and reliable online assessments, with attention paid to floor and ceiling effects (i.e., that the test provides useful information for students at extreme lows and extreme highs). 

Recommended Additional Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the responsibilities of being willing and able to participate in meetings about goal setting and placement decisions. 

Justification 

Sufficient numbers of easier items are necessary for predictive validity of test scores for students with disabilities (Catts, Petscher, Schatschneider, Bridges & Mendoza, 2008). 

G-3 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands multiple strategies for ensuring the security of online student assessments, academic integrity, and assessment data. 

Recommended Additional Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands how to use assessment data for both course curriculum evaluation as well as for identifying students who may require special services. 

Justification 

Child Find procedures are required by IDEA to help identify students who require special education services (IDEA, 2004). 

Current Standard 

The online teacher develops and delivers assessments, projects, and assignments that meet standards-based learning goals and assesses learning progress by measuring student achievement of the learning goals. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard

H-1

Current Standard

The online teacher knows and understands the reach of authentic assessments (i.e., the opportunity to demonstrate understanding of acquired knowledge and skills, as opposed to testing isolated skills or retained facts) are part of the evaluation process.

No suggestions for modifications to this standard

H-2

Current Standard

The online teacher knows and understands the process of continuous evaluation of students to include formative and summative assessments and student feedback, including polls and surveys that reflect student learning progress throughout the course.

No suggestions for modifications to this standard

H-3

Current Standard

The online teacher knows and understands the relationships between the assignments, assessments, and standards-based learning goals.

No suggestions for modifications to this standard

I

Current Standard

The online teacher demonstrates competency in using data from assessments and other data sources to modify content and to guide student learning.

No suggestions for modifications to this standard

I-1

Current Standard

The online teacher knows and understands techniques to plan individualized instruction incorporating student data.

No suggestions for modifications to this standard

I-2

Current Standard

The online teacher knows and understands how data is used to modify the content, instruction, and assessment to meet student needs.

No suggestions for modifications to this standard

I-3

Current Standard

The online teacher knows and understands how instruction is based on assessment data.

Recommended Revision to Standard

The online teacher uses assessment data from a variety of sources to design or enhance instruction.

Justification

Student data is crucial to determining where students are performing at any given time. These data should be used to make decisions about what strategies and supports students with disabilities need to best perform in the online learning environment (Vasquez & Serianni, 2012).

I-4

Current Standard

The online teacher knows and understands the importance of self-reflection or assessment of teaching effectiveness.

No suggestions for modifications to this standard

I-5

Current Standard

The online teacher knows and understands varied assessment strategies that address levels of ability through a variety of alternative interventions.

No suggestions for modifications to this standard

I-6

Current Standard

The online teacher knows and understands the use of effective learning strategies data for an individual student to formulate detail-specific changes in future instruction, based on assessment results and research study (data-driven and research-based).

No suggestions for modifications to this standard

I-7

Current Standard

The online teacher knows and understands the process for maintaining records of relevant communications.

Recommended Revision to Standard

The online teacher knows and understands the process of maintaining records of relevant communications and keeping identifying information (e.g., disability status) confidential.

Justification

Online teachers should start by communicating with students by telephone and then determine student preference to communicate electronically. The teacher should save important communications with students and families digitally. The online teacher should remain aware of student communication preferences and protect student and family confidentiality (Belair, 2012).

I-8

Current Standard

The online teacher knows and understands effective time management strategies.

Recommended Revision to Standard

The online teacher knows and understands effective time management and pacing strategies and knows how to share and develop such plans with students and families.

Justification

It is important at the beginning of the online class for teachers, along with students and families, to create a plan for the class that allows students to learn at their own pace. This plan should include supports that students and families may need during the class (Fernandez, Ferdig, Thompson, Schottke, & Black, 2016).

I-9

Current Standard

The online teacher knows and understands online course management tasks.

No suggestions for modifications to this standard

I-10

Current Standard

The online teacher knows and understands ways for teacher and students to assess student readiness for course content and method of delivery.

No suggestions for modifications to this standard

I-11

Current Standard

The online teacher knows and understands that student success (e.g., grade, level of participation, mastery of content, completion percentage) is an important measure of teaching and course success.

No suggestions for modifications to this standard

I-12

Current Standard

The online teacher knows and understands the importance of student self-assessment.

Recommended Revision to Standard

The online teacher knows and understands the importance of student self-assessment as part of the cycle of self-regulation. 

Justification 

Self-regulation, including self-monitoring progress, has been shown to be related to GPA, as well as other academic characteristics of online students (Colorado & Eberle, 2010). 

I-13 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the role of student empowerment in online learning. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

Current Standard 

The online teacher interacts in a professional, effective manner with colleagues, parents, and other members of the community to support students’ success. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

J-1 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the need for professional activity and collaboration beyond school (e.g., professional learning communities) to update academic skills and knowledge and collaborate with other educators. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

J-2 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands the need to coordinate learning experiences with other adults involved in providing support to the student (e.g., parents, local school contacts, mentors) to support student learning. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

Current Standard 

The online teacher arranges media and content to help students and teachers transfer knowledge most effectively in the online environment. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

K-1 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands critical digital literacies and 21st century skills. 

Recommended Revision to Standard 

The online teacher understands the importance of technological literacies and learning skills. 

Justification 

Technology provides many learning opportunities for students with special needs, but one consideration (among many) is the ease with which students can use the technology (FernándezLópez, Á., Rodríguez-Fóttiz, M. J., Rodríguez-Almendros, M. L., & Martínez-Segura, M. J., 2013). 

K-2 

Current Standard 

The online teacher knows and understands appropriate use of technologies to enhance learning. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

K-3 

Current Standard 

The online teacher is able to modify and add content and assessment, using an online Learning Management System (LMS). 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

K-4 

Current Standard 

The online teacher is able to create and modify engaging content and appropriate assessments in an online environment. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

K-5 

Current Standard 

The online teacher is able to incorporate multimedia and visual resources into an online module. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

K-6 

Current Standard 

The online teacher is able to use and incorporate subject-specific and developmentally appropriate software in an online learning module. 

No suggestions for modifications to this standard 

K-7 

Current Standard 

The online teacher is able to review materials and Web resources for their alignment with course objectives and state and local standards and for their appropriateness on a continuing basis. 

Recommended Revision to Standard 

The online teacher becomes familiar with operating systems and course design features in order to make or advocate for adjustments in materials that make them more accessible to students.

Justification 

All technology should be available in multiple formats that allow all students to access it in an equitable way as required by their individual needs (Section 508). 

K-8 

Current Standard 

The online teacher is able to create assignments, projects, and assessments that are aligned with students’ different visual, auditory, and hands-on ways of learning. 

Recommended Revision to Standard 

The online teacher is able to create assignments, projects, and assessments that offer students multiple means of engagement, representation, and expression. 

Justification 

Considering the principles of UDL will help ensure appropriate access to the technology mediated instruction for all students (CAST, 2011; Courey, S. J., Tappe, P., Siker, J., & LePage, P., 2013). 

K-9 

Current Standard 

The online teacher is able to arrange media and content to help transfer knowledge most effectively in the online environment. 

Recommended Revision to Standard 

The online teacher is able to arrange media and content to promote the transfer of knowledge and skills between courses within the online environment. 

Justification 

Online teachers should provide content that meets the needs of the student, is on the student’s current level of performance, and is relevant to the student (Greer, Rowland, & Smith, 2014).

Appendix B
Ratings Resulting from Online Survey: Teaching Standards 
Standard (at time of review) Rating
Dimension
RangeAverage
Rating
The online teacher knows and understands promising practices and strategies for online teaching and learning and their implementation for general and special populations in online education.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
None
3-4
3-5
2-5
5
3.25
4
3.25
The online teacher knows and understands the need for continuing to update academic knowledge, pedagogies, skills, and legal understandings.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
4-5
3-4
2-5
2-4
4.75
3.75
3.5
3
The online teacher knows and understands the subject areas, subgroup characteristics (e.g., disability, ELL, low SES) and age groups of the students they are teaching.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
None
None
2-5
3-5
5
4
4
4.25
The online teacher knows and understands the importance of interaction and social skill development in an online course and the role of varied communication tools in supporting interaction.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
None
3-4
4-5
3-5
5
3.75
4.5
4.25
The online teacher knows and understands basic troubleshooting practices and undertakes the responsibility to address basic technical issues associated with online courses that students and parents may have.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
None
3-4
3-5
3-4
5
3.5
4
3.25
The online teacher knows and understands the techniques for developing inclusive communities among students with varied social and academic skills.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
3-5
2-4
2-4
2-4
4.5
3.5
3.5
3.5
The online teacher knows and understands differentiated instruction based on student’s goals and needs.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
None
None
1-4
1-4
5
4
2.75
2.75
The online teacher knows and understands the need to set authentic social goals for students that define and establish high expectations for interaction.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
4-5
2-4
1-4
1-4
4.25
3.25
2.75
2.75
The online teacher knows and understands how to define valid assessment criteria using measurement standards.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
None
3-4
1-4
1-4
5
3.75
3
2.67
The online teacher knows and understands the need to establish criteria for appropriate online work behaviors and time management.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
4-5
3-4
2-4
2-4
4.5
3.75
3.25
3.25
The online teacher understands the policies around academic dishonesty and can detect and report suspicious behavior.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
None
3-4
3-4
2-4
5
3.5
3.5
3.25
The online teacher provides explicit instruction to students about academic honesty policies and works with students and families to resolve potential issues before reporting is necessary.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
None
None
1-4
2-4
5
4
3.25
3.25
The online teacher provides explicit instruction to students about acceptable use policies and works with students and families to resolve potential issues before reporting is necessary.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
None
3-4
2-4
2-4
5
3.5
3.5
3.5
The online teacher knows and understands ways to include students with disabilities in online activities alongside their non-disabled peers to the greatest extent possible.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
None
3-4
2-5
2-4
5
3.75
3
3.25
If a child with a disability is removed from most or all of the online activities that general education students engage in, the online teacher is aware that this decision needs to be made by a team that includes the child’s parents.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
None
3-4
2-4
2-4
5
3.75
3
3.25
The online teacher knows and understands appropriate tools and technologies to make accommodations and modifications based on legally mandated service plans and student needs.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
None
3-4
2-3
2-3
5
3.75
2.25
2.75
The online teacher knows and understands how to monitor students’ IEP goals and adjust instruction where necessary to help students meet their goals.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
None
None
2-3
2-4
5
4
2.5
3.25
The online teacher knows and understands alternative technologies that grant students with disabilities the same access to educational opportunities as students their nondisabled peers.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
4-5
2-4
2-4
2-4
4.75
3.5
2.5
3
The online teacher knows and understands options to expand student thinking, provide student choice in learning activities, and provide avenues for enrichment or intervention.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
None
3-4
None
3-4
5
3.75
4
3.75
The online teacher knows and understands common types of disabilities, cultural differences in participation, and basic aspects of language development, including second language development.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
None
None
2-4
2-4
5
4
2.5
3
The online teacher knows and understands how to implement valid and reliable online assessments, with attention paid to floor and ceiling effects.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
None
3-4
3-4
3-5
5
3.75
3.5
3.75
The online teacher knows and understands the responsibilities of being willing and able to participate in meetings about goal setting and placement decisions.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
None
2-4
3-4
None
5
3
3.75
4
The online teacher knows and understands how to use assessment data for both, course curriculum evaluation as well as for identifying students who may require special services.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
None
3-4
1-4
1-4
5
3.5
2.75
3
The online teacher uses assessment data from a variety of sources to design or enhance instruction.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
None
3-4
1-4
2-4
5
3.5
3.25
3.5
The online teacher knows and understands the process of maintaining records of relevant communications and keeping identifying information (e.g., disability status) confidential.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
None
None
4-5
4-5
5
4
4.75
4.5
The online teacher knows and understands effective time management and pacing strategies and knows how to share and develop such plans with students and families.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
4-5
3-4
4-5
3-5
4.75
3.25
4.25
4
The online teacher knows and understands the importance of student self-assessment as part of the cycle of self-regulation.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
4-5
3-4
3-5
2-5
4.75
3.25
4
4
The online teacher understands the importance of technological literacies and learning skills.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
3-5
2-4
2-5
2-4
4.5
3.25
3.75
3
The online teacher is able to review materials and Web resources for their general accessibility, as well as their alignment with course objectives, state/local standards, and section 508 compliance.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
4-5
3-4
1-2
1-4
4.75
3.5
1.5
2.5
The online teacher is able to create assignments, projects, and assessments that offer students multiple means of engagement, representation, and expression.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
None
3-4
2-4
2-4
5
3.75
3.5
3
The online teacher is able to arrange media and content to promote the transfer of knowledge and skills between courses within the online environment.Relevance
Specificity
Competency
Difficulty
4-5
2-4
1-5
1-4
4.5
3
3
2.75

Limited Course Capacity

We’re sorry to inform you that we have reached capacity for several of our Semester 1 and Trimester 1 courses. You’ll notice when attempting to enroll students in our Student Learning Portal that some courses are unavailable. While we are no longer accepting new enrollments for these courses at this time, many courses continue to remain open for enrollment.

With many students across the state 100% remote, demand for our online courses is greater than ever before. Because every course we offer is taught by a Michigan-certified teacher, this high volume of enrollments has created capacity issues for our teachers who provide each and every student with individual feedback.

While the Michigan Virtual team anticipated and planned for significant increases in student enrollments this Fall, the increased demand we’ve experienced has been unprecedented. As a result, we are taking steps to hire even more part-and full-time teachers to support larger numbers of student enrollments for Semester 2 as well as for Trimester 2 and 3. 

For schools that still need online learning options this year, please fill out the form at the bottom of our virtual pathways page to meet with someone to discuss other solutions. While some of our teacher-led courses are full, we may still have the capacity to help you in upcoming terms or can discuss timing to implement a whole-school or collaborative program in which local teachers from your school/district use our online course content to teach students. We also have free course content and resources available for you to use.

We know this is an incredibly stressful time for all, and we’re sorry if the courses you’re looking for are unavailable. We never want to turn away a student who wants to learn from us. Our top concern, however, is student success, and we have a policy to not take on additional enrollments if we cannot guarantee that all students will have a quality online learning experience. 

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate the unusually high volume of enrollments we are receiving.