Special Populations

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Special Populations Information (IEP, ELL, 504)

Delivering Equitable, Quality Learning Opportunities for All Citizens.

ACCESS Virtual Learning is an education initiative of the Alabama State Department of Education, which provides opportunities and options for Alabama students in grades 6th–12th to engage in courses, at no cost, for which they may not otherwise have access. ACCESS courses are not only delivered online, but also have a teacher who interacts with the students on a regular basis. Alabama certification is required for each online teacher. In addition, many teachers are highly qualified in the area of certification.

ACCESS is available to students working in the school environment in the presence of an on-site facilitator and to students working independently on their own time outside of their school. Success depends on the willingness of the student to take ownership for his or her learning regardless of the environment. If a student’s learning style and ability does not allow for independent learning, then an online class may not be the best option.

Online learning has proven successful with many students, including those with and without disabilities. The flexibility of time and the ability to learn in a non-distracting environment is often a primary need for students. Each local school must work individually with the students who require special services in order to determine whether an online course is suited to meet the individual needs. It is important that schools, parents and students understand the supported accommodations through the ACCESS program. Some accommodations are more appropriately implemented by a student’s local school because some accommodations are difficult for a virtual teacher to implement and/or oversee. If a student with a disability participates in ACCESS courses from a location other than the assigned school, then it is the responsibility of the parent or student to choose the most appropriate learning environment. Furthermore, the parent is also responsible for implementing the required accommodations. Course content assignments and the post-tests in Credit Recovery courses may be accommodated for special needs students, but not the pretests. Online classes and the virtual environment may or may not be appropriate for a given student. The Individualized Education Program, English Language Learners Plan or 504 team should discuss the least restrictive environment that is most appropriate for the student with a disability.

It is highly recommended that schools write, or amend, each IEP, ELL or 504 Plan specifically to address the online learning environment. The following chart will describe procedures and common accommodations that are supported. Although this chart is extensive, it is not inclusive. Any questions regarding possible accommodations and whether they can be provided through ACCESS should be directed to your regional support center.

ACCESS Virtual Learning offers to train special education teachers or other school staff who work with special population students who will be taking ACCESS courses as ACCESS facilitators. This training allows the special education teacher to see firsthand what their students taking ACCESS classes are doing. The assignments, quizzes and tests allow the special education teacher to assist students with any work that may not be understood or that they are unable to complete without accommodations or instruction from the special education teacher. Contact your ACCESS Regional Support Center for details.

ACCESS Virtual Learning

Suggested Accommodations for Individualized Education Program, 504 Plan and English Language Learners

The following information is not intended to be exclusive but suggestive so that parents and schools can make an informed decision as to whether online learning is appropriate for a given child. Contact your regional ACCESS Support Center with any questions regarding accommodations not addressed in this document. ACCESS strives to serve all students and meet specific needs. Modifications are not allowed in ACCESS courses. If a special education student is following the Essentials pathway for their Alabama high school diploma, be aware that ACCESS does not offer Essentials-level coursework. 

All accommodations must be written into IEPs, ELL, and 504 plans and official documents must be in PowerSchool Special Programs before the start of a term to best serve students.

exclamationOfficial Documentation

Official documentation, with current implementation dates, is required in order for students taking ACCESS courses to receive accommodations. The dates for summer school must be included on the official documentation if summer school will be necessary. Accommodations will not be provided without the implementation dates and the official documentation.

Stated Accommocation on Student ProgramImplementation through ACCESS
Proximity/preferential seating, read aloud assignments/tests/ directions 
Peer tutoring
Prompt to stay on task 
For students taking ACCESS courses at their local school under the supervision of an on-site facilitator, the local school must be responsible for these accommodations.
For students taking ACCESS courses from a location other than the assigned school, the student or parent chooses the environment and is responsible for implementing these accommodations.
Assigned to co-taught classThere are no co-taught ACCESS classes. Local arrangements with the facilitator and/or special education teacher may be recommended to assist a student.
Read aloud tests/directions 
Testing in resource room 
Small group testing
Tests are randomly generated so no two students will have the same test. Reading aloud must be done on an individual basis. These accommodations must be provided by the student’s local school. Printouts of tests cannot be provided. Tests and exams have a time limit. For more information on the ACCESS Timed Test Policy, please refer to: ACCESS Policy Manual for Schools
Reduced assignments, reduce math assignment to 1⁄2 amount, reduce work up to 50%Teachers may reduce the number of items or amount of work required on individual assignments but cannot omit complete assignments that are required by all students to cover the Alabama Course of Study Standards (COS) or that are necessary for future work. All students must follow ALCOS standards in order to earn credit for the course.
Reduce number of choices on multiple choice testsTeachers may reduce to no less than three answer choices.
Reduce the number of items on testsACCESS teachers can make this accommodation with caution. In order for the student to earn credit, all COS standards must be taught and tested. If reducing the number of items on the test compromises the COS or does not adequately prepare students for future assignments, other changes should be considered. Communication with the school and support center is critical. Teachers should communicate with the school regarding the total number of questions that would be best for a particular student prior to making any changes. It is possible that a given test already meets the necessary accommodation requirement.
Teacher-provided notes and/or study guidesCourse material is available to the student at any time (24 hours a day, 7 days a week), so students are able to access their course for review or note-taking. Most courses have practice areas called “Try It” that reflect important concepts that may be tested. Some courses have review guides already provided. Additional study guides may be provided for all students at the teacher’s discretion.

(Note: Some teachers allow multiple attempts on some tests. In these situations, students can see the missed questions on an attempt and review the course material again prior to taking subsequent attempts.)
Extended time on assignments Multiple or late submissions of an assignment will be accepted at the teacher’s discretion unless stated otherwise on a student’s IEP, ELL or 504 plan. Teachers may penalize students for multiple or late submissions unless stated otherwise on a student’s IEP, ELL or 504 Plan. Students may use additional time outside of the regular school day (i.e., at home) to meet the course pacing guide and due dates. Students need to keep in mind that they need to produce and turn in assignments on a regular basis in order to help prevent them from falling behind in the course. Placeholder zeros will be entered for assignments turned in after the stated due date listed on the course pace guide.
Extra time to complete courseACCESS is unable to extend terms for an individual student to complete a course, so careful consideration will need to be given when placing a student into an ACCESS course has this accommodation listed on their plan.
Extended time on tests/ assessmentsExtended time on tests can be provided on an individual basis as defined by the student’s plan.
Use of notes, study guides, calculator, formula sheets on testsACCESS does allow this accommodation when appropriate. It is the responsibility of the school or the student’s parents to make sure this accommodation is implemented appropriately.
No penalty for spellingThis accommodation can be made in most cases. If the assignment in question is dependent on spelling such as a spelling test or with words where the meaning is dependent on spelling (in English and world languages) then penalties cannot be waived.
Rework/resubmit assignments or tests that receive a failing gradeAllowing a student to resubmit assignments and work to mastery is appropriate in some situations. Online tests/quizzes cannot single out questions. If a student wishes to retake, they must retake the full assignment/quiz/test.
Reminders of assignmentsEach ACCESS teacher provides a pacing guide designating due dates at the beginning of the course. The pacing guide is located on the course home page, easily visible at all times. In addition, teachers regularly post announcements reminding students of approaching deadlines. It is the student’s responsibility to read the information. The student’s facilitator can also re-direct the student.

Other Common Accommodations

Generally Written Accommodation on a Student’s PlanHow Online Learning Can Address the Accommodation
Visual supportSome of the online courses (ex. Math 7, French I) have many videos for a student to view. These videos may be replayed multiple times, allowing the student to take notes and work at his/her own pace. Students/facilitators can also reach out to the instructor for additional resources for supporting gaps.
Larger print materialsSince work is done on a computer, font size can always be adjusted in the browser. Students can also use the zoom feature.
Audio enhancements, closed Captioning, transcriptsHeadsets can be utilized. Speech-to-text can be used with some courses.

Closed captions or transcripts are available for most resources. Requests can be made for those without them and closed captions or transcripts can be made available usually within a week.
Frequent breaksWork is done at the student’s own pace. Some tests in the course may be timed, but can be adjusted if the time does not equal the time stated in the student’s individualized plan.

The student and facilitator can discuss with the instructor if frequent breaks will require a longer time limit.
Frequent prompts and checks for understandingMost ACCESS courses include one or more practice opportunities (usually called “Try It”) per lesson. The students may use these in every lesson. These may be repeated an unlimited amount of times. In addition, since most ACCESS lessons end in an assignment, students have frequent opportunities for feedback from the teacher to confirm understanding.
Retake only on areas not mastered by studentTeachers may permit students to revise only the questions missed on a dropbox assignment.

Online tests/quizzes cannot single out questions. If a student wishes to retake, they must retake the full assignment/quiz/test.
Advanced notice of large assignments and testsAssignments and expectations are transparent. All the course requirements and suggested due dates are available at the beginning of the course. Notice is already built in; however, some students may benefit from reminders. Many ACCESS teachers post daily or weekly reminders of the items due and the tests/quizzes/exams that students are responsible for in a particular time frame.
Teacher frequently checks for comprehension of test directions, tests, questions, test format, assignment and/or understanding of curriculumTeachers interact frequently and promptly with students, responding to emails within 24 hours and grading assignments within 48 hours. However, teachers are not available on demand. Real-time interaction with a student in a one-to-one setting is limited. Most interaction occurs through functions of the learning management system (Schoology) – messaging, discussions, and feedback on assignments and quizzes. Facilitators can proctor exams and answer basic questions about test directions. Please keep in mind that students who require frequent, real-time contact with a teacher may not be well suited for an online course, which can lead to frustration.
Use of iPod or other music while learningThis is done at the discretion of the school of enrollment.
Help with organizationClasses are inherently organized and the student follows a preset format of the course. ACCESS teachers also share a course pacing guide to assist the student with course organization and assignment due dates. Once assignments are completed, they are directly submitted for grading to the instructor. Facilitators can also assist with organization.
Extended term (one term class in two terms)Special arrangements should be made with the ACCESS support center to accommodate such a request. It may be preferred for schools to enroll students for only a portion of a course over a full term. Without prior arrangement, such as the school administrator requesting a WIP, students must abide by designated end dates. Contact the regional ACCESS support center for information regarding WIPs.
Final grading (pass/fail vs. letter grading)A percentage grade based on points earned out of total points in the course is reported for each student. A final score, not a final grade, is provided. The school can convert those points into a specific grading scheme, e.g. pass/fail if they so choose