The primary goal of the CalPac Online Special Education Department is to serve the unique needs of students with learning disabilities so that each student successfully develops to their fullest potential. Services are provided in compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandating that all children with disabilities be educated with nondisabled children to the maximum extent possible. The Special Education Department uses research-based teaching methods guided by direct and frequent measures of student performance to best service our students. CalPac Online’s virtual Special Educators work collaboratively with the virtual General Educators and Education Specialists to share the responsibility for ensuring that students with identified disabilities achieve their academic and nonacademic goals. All students can learn when instruction is geared to their strengths and they are given sufficient tools and opportunities to learn.
Is Independent Study an appropriate placement for students with special needs?
According the California Department of Education Code EC Section 51745(c). Independent study can be a great option for some students; however, it may not be the right option for every student who is not thriving at a traditional school. Some students might be better served in an educational option that is classroom-based and offers a smaller learning environment and more individualization. Many charter schools, alternative schools of choice, or magnet schools meet this description; these schools may also offer a particular academic focus or approach that would engage an individual student’s interests and best meet the student’s learning style.
Independent study programs are voluntary. The California of Department of Education states, “The option to take courses via independent study must be continuously voluntary. EC Section 51747(c)(7); 5 CCR 11700(d)(2)(A).” Furthermore, students with IEPs cannot participate in independent study unless it is deemed an appropriate instructional placement. The CDE provides explicit rules regarding the admission of students with IEPs into independent study:A. Special education students may not participate in independent study unless it is specified as an instructional method in their individualized education program (IEP). EC Section 51745(c) B. Independent study charter schools must enroll all students who meet the enrollment requirements set in their charter. C. For a student who has an IEP and wants to participate in independent study, a determination as to whether independent study is appropriate must be made within thirty days and written into the IEP.
Students are provided with additional individualized academic instruction by a highly qualified Program Specialist (Special Education Teacher) in a virtual classroom. Elluminate is a communication tool that allows for live private and public chats in a chat box or the use of a microphone. Teachers use webcam interactions, file share documents, upload presentations and videos, and demonstrate concepts on a whiteboard or through web tours. Elluminate is a fun and interactive teaching tool.
One major difference between the traditional school setting and the virtual classroom is access to teachers by phone. Students with IEPs and 504 plans can call their Program Specialist assigned to them during office hours and discuss issues and concerns or receive assistance with course assignments.
Electronic mail is another viable and expedient mode of communication in a virtual environment. Email is an additional method for sending messages. You can use email to send and/or receive important documents. Moreover, email provides students and parents a means of cataloging and saving important information from all CalPac Online faculty and staff.
CalPac Onlineprovides the following accommodations based on the needs of each individual student: