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Access & Equity

Who has access to your online learning program and how can your policies promote equitable opportunity? These critical and challenging questions raise a broad range of issues. This section addresses the major topics by describing the issues and questions for your team to discuss.

In addition to this section of the website, iNACOL published a paper in 2014 called Access and Equity for All Learners in Blended and Online Education which addresses the topics of access and equity in more detail.

It is important to be aware of the legal obligations that are associated with access & equity issues.

Residency & Attendance: Where students live is a defining factor in our school systems. Although public and private schools function very differently in this regard, geography plays a role in both. Will your program cross local, state or national boundaries, and what does that mean for residency and attendance requirements? This section describes a range of policy questions and related to residency and attendance. Their impact on funding is addressed separately. …more info

Access to Technology: Ensuring that all students have access to the technology necessary for online learning is obviously a prerequisite for a successful program. Although this issue is typically most significant in program serving impoverished or rural student, all programs need to ensure that all students can access their courses. Policies can define a program’s commitment to equitable access as well as strategies for accomplishing it. …more info

Student Eligibility and Course Options: Programs sometimes choose to limit their offerings to particular courses or specific groups of students. Alternative learning programs, high-achievement programs, and remedial programs are all part of the current virtual school landscape. Your policies can describe which courses you make available and which students are eligible to participate in your online learning program. Careful policy creation will consider both staff and student needs. There are numerous pitfalls you’ll want to avoid. …more info

Special Education and English Language Learners: Special education students and English language learners can benefit from online learning programs, too. Your policies can describe your commitment to special needs populations, define how Individual Education Plan (IEP) teams treat online learning programs, and ensure legal compliance with all relevant laws. Your policies should ensure that suitable opportunities are available and used appropriately for these populations of students. …more info

Demographics: Because they function within larger systems, many programs are not required to and do not track the demographic makeup of their students. This creates an opening for unintentional biases. Policies can describe the goals, methods and frequency of demographic data collection. …more info

References for footnotes can be found on the resources page or click on the footnote number for a direct link.