Motivations among Special Education Students and their Parents for Switching to an Online School: Survey Responses and Emergent Themes
Keywords:K-12, Digital Learning, Special Education, school choice
Research focusing on the experiences of special education students in online K–12 schools is scant despite growing numbers of enrollments. This study utilized an emailed survey to understand the motivations and experiences of a group of special education students (n = 30) and their parents (n = 29) while enrolled in an online K–12 school in the U.S. Responses indicated that the three most compelling reasons for choosing the school were flexibility, previous poor fit, and teacher availability. Qualitative analysis of open-ended responses produced two major themes—prior experiences and affordances of the learning environment—with sub-themes related to bullying, personnel, academics, disabilities and accommodations, health considerations, lack of support, self-determination, and the where, when, and how of online learning. These findings may help policy makers enact policies and online educators adapt their approach to better meet the needs of K–12 students with special needs.
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