Are Virtual Schools and Online Education Effective for Students with Disabilities?

Information Release: National Association of State Directors of Special Education, Inc. (NASDSE), September 24, 2012 – Bill East, Executive Director

Across the country, virtual schools and online education are gaining popularity at a rapid rate, yet little research exists on whether such methods are effective for students with disabilities.  To learn more about this, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in the U.S. Department of Education funded the Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities in January of 2012.  The five-year grant project is a partnership involving the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning (KUCRL), the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE).  Together, these organizations will conduct research on how K-12 online learning impacts the access, participation, and progress of students with disabilities.  Research outcomes are expected to inform the design, selection, and implementation of online digital curriculum materials, the systems that deliver and support them, and the instructional practices associated with their use, in order to increase their efficacy for students with disabilities and other elementary and secondary learners.  Updates on the Center’s progress along with original research can be found at  For daily updates, follow the Center on Twitter @onlinecenter1