Q&A: Special Needs Students in Online Elementary Schools

A: The short answer is yes, though you should of course check with each specific school before enrolling or check our school report cards which have more information on how schools accomodate students with special needs.  If done correctly – by a good school – elearning should prove more able to address your student’s specific needs. There are often fewer students in an online classroom than there are in traditional, tangible classrooms. A lot of programs are leveraging performance data to home in on exactly what each student needs to work on. This has become something of a buzz phrase – “Adaptive learning,” or “Personalized learning” – but it can be incredibly helpful.

Additionally, if your student has trouble focusing for long periods of time, online learning should provide inherent benefits. Lessons can be paused, rewound and/or repeated. Your student can also watch at the time of day that works best for her and teachers are readily available to answer even the simplest of questions about the course or the coursework.

Perhaps the best way that schools cater to students with special needs is by grading their students using a "mastery" framework. The mastery schools want to make sure their students know the material entirely before the student progresses to the next level. This means that rather than grade an assignment and move on, teachers work with the students on a certain assignment until that student has "mastered" the material.

Many online schools feature faculty members who are have great experience working with students who have unique needs.