The National Education Policy Center reported that one in 10 students enrolled in a virtual school has a disability, yet virtual schools — be they state or corporate-sponsored — invest little in this population (Molnar, et. al., 2013). Consequences of not meeting the needs of students with disabilities include high attrition and generally poor achievement (Deshler, Rice, & Greer, 2014; Rice, East, & Mellard, 2015b). These unacceptable outcomes are part of the low performance of at-risk students — the fastest growing segment of virtual student enrollments (Miron, 2016).
To improve service delivery online, several researchers at the University of Kansas, who are also affiliated with the Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities (COLSD), have personally undertaken a review process to incorporate research and practical understanding about serving students with disabilities into the iNACOL National Standards for Quality Online Teaching (2011a), iNACOL National Standards for Quality Online Courses (2011b), and iNACOL National Standards for Quality Online Programs (2011c). These researchers assembled under the commission of the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute.
This report, Meeting the Needs of Students with Disabilities in K-12 Online Learning: An Introduction to the Analysis of the iNACOL Program, Course, and Teacher Standards, is part of a series of four reports and includes the introductory information and methodology for the review process. The other three reports in the series are the reviews of the iNACOL National Standards for Quality Online Teaching, iNACOL National Standards for Quality Online Courses, and iNACOL National Standards for Quality Online Programs as well as implications, conclusion, and suggestions for further research for each specific set of standards.
Following the stages of standards review and revision described above, final versions of proposed revisions to the iNACOL National Standards for Quality Online Programs, iNACOL National Standards for Quality Online Courses, and iNACOL National Standards for Quality Online Teaching were created. These proposed revisions can be seen alongside their original forms in the second, third, and fourth reports in this series, respectively. These reports also include a justification for the indicated changes that stem from cited research or law.
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These reports were originally posted in December 2016 and have been reformatted for publication.