Providing for Students with Special Needs in Charter Schools

With the number of charter schools in the United States increasing every year, it is becoming ever more important that there is a standard for providing special education services to students with special needs. Charter schools can successfully achieve this by utilizing a blended learning model that includes the proper combination of planning, technology and support. Charter schools have the freedom to test out new delivery methods, like telepractice, which creates limitless opportunities for students to progress. Telepractice, in conjunction with on-site support, gives students access to the experts they need.

At a recently held breakfast at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools conference, Clay Whitehead, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of PresenceLearning, shared the story of one of PresenceLearning’s first students, Emma. At the age of five, Emma had a severe stutter, but her local school district lacked a therapist with the experience to properly help her. Knowing Emma’s stutter would become a life-long issue if it was not remediated before she turned six, the local district turned to PresenceLearning for help. With just six months of telepractice services, Emma went from stuttering 36 percent of the time to only stuttering two percent of the time.

It is stories such as Emma’s that prove blended learning can have a positive impact on schools and the students they serve. As noted by Whitehead, figuring out how to serve all kids can be difficult, but by focusing on the student first rather than measuring the minutes of therapy, the best results are achieved.

Although the future of blended learning is not set, charter schools’ potential to change the landscape of education by trying new methods and new pedagogy is unlimited.

“The impact, if we do it right, is tremendous. Not just to serve our own students, but to set a high standard that benefits all students,” Whitehead said. “Blended learning is still ours to shape.”