I started teaching at Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA) 16 years ago and, in 2004, became the director for special programs at K12. During my time with the organization, I have witnessed firsthand how K12's resources can positively enhance the education journey of a student with disabilities in a K12-powered school. How? For example, K12-powered schools don't usually put students with special needs into a different track of courses. The schools want all students to be successful—academically and personally. This means we deliver students with special needs the same rigorous and engaging course material, but with the additional support from educators as well as learning tools to ensure success.
We know students enroll in K12-powered schools for a variety of reasons. Some are looking for a more challenging curriculum while others seek additional support that might not be available in a traditional school. K12-powered schools prioritize connecting every student to the support and resources they need, when and where they need it. Through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), schools create personalized goals for every student who may require extra support and offer the appropriate resources needed to achieve those goals. The adaptability of K12's programs and national infrastructure allows students to receive specialized support that empowers them to perform at a higher level.
Resources Are Abundant, Nimble, and Tailored to Every Student—and Available from Day One
Personalizing an education to meet every student where they are academically, socially, or emotionally may sound simple, but creating the infrastructure to ensure every teacher or Learning Coach has the tools needed to provide that additional support is a much more demanding task. To address this challenge, K12 has cultivated a unique and nimble approach to creating a cache of courses and tools specific to each student.
And K12 continues to develop innovative tools that adapt to each student's needs.
A large part of my job requires maintaining and growing an adaptive infrastructure with the appropriate supportive tools that will help students excel. My team always tries to partner with suppliers who have readily available tools, meaning we are always delivering the best and most up-to-date resources to our K12-powered schools. When teachers at these schools need resources for any student, they know immediately where to go and don't have to take time away from their students to hunt down materials. Since many of our chosen partners also provide tools on an individualized basis, teachers do not have to choose a single resource as the end-all be-all approach to learning in their class.
The K12 Summit Courses, which include adaptive capabilities such as differentiated pathing and dynamically recommended content, have allowed schools to provide thousands of students with a rigorous and personalized curriculum. The courses include a text-to-speech toolbar, so students who may rely on different learning methods can listen to the questions. This is especially helpful for students with disabilities who may have trouble reading text. Instead of delivering a stagnant curriculum—the flexibility of Summit Courses allows students to receive lessons in a way that is best suited to their unique needs.
With the flexibility of the live instructional lessons schools are able to provide students with disabilities extra one-to-one time with teachers that extends beyond normal classroom time. Teachers work to align coursework with a student's IEP and give them the flexibility to complete their work at their own pace. This increased flexibility has been life-changing for many families.
Harnessing Innovation to Meet the Needs of Our Students with Disabilities
Today, K12 is incredibly proud of what we can deliver to students and families through our programs, but we are also focused on creating new systems that will even better support students.
K12's innovative spirit involves constantly thinking about how we can better meet the needs of students and their IEP goals. My team works with the schools to make sure their teachers have the resources necessary to help students meet their targets for the year.
The impact of releasing new programs and supplemental resources is evident through the increased performance of students and the satisfaction of parents with K12's curriculum. Based on a spring 2018 survey of families with students with disabilities in K12-powered schools, 73 percent of the parents were satisfied with the curriculum's ability to meet their student's unique needs.
K12 Redefines the Way an Education Should Be Approached: Accessible to All
Individualized education programs allow students with disabilities to have a platform for success, and parents value the effectiveness of our courses. In this same survey, more than 60 percent of parents reported that the Special Programs support available in these schools surpass those in their children's previous schools—with more than 90 percent saying these programs perform better or equivalent to programs at previous schools.
At K12, we seek to make learning an accessible and rewarding experience for everyone. Our resources help even out the playing field for students regardless of their capability.
KEYWORDS: Special Needs, Personalized Learning, Curriculum, Innovation, Results, School Administrators (or Administrators or School Leaders), Student Success