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Parental Role and Support for Online Learning of Students with Disabilities: A Paradigm Shift

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Journal of Special Education Leadership Volume 29, Number 2, ISSN 1525-1810


This study, conducted by researchers at the Center on Online Learning and Students With Disabilities, investigated parent perceptions and experiences regarding fully online learning for their children with disabilities. Results suggest that with the growth in K-12 fully online learning experiences, the parent (or adult member) in students' households takes on added responsibilities for the child with disabilities to participate in schooling. In particular, parents take on the role of teacher. On the basis of this new teacher role comes a greater need for increased parent-teacher communication regarding their children's learning as well as greater parent time commitments. In addition, parents discussed several barriers to their ability to participate in their children's fully online learning experience. Implications of this study point to ways in which school administrators and online learning vendors can better support both parents and students with disabilities: clarify parent and teacher roles; understand the essential attributes needed for success in a fully online environment; realize the demands placed upon parents and their children with disabilities, including the need for frequent home-school communication; and require training to ensure that parents have skills needed to participate in their children's education via this online medium.


Smith, S.J., Burdette, P.J., Cheatham, G.A. & Harvey, S.P. (2016). Parental Role and Support for Online Learning of Students with Disabilities: A Paradigm Shift. Journal of Special Education Leadership, 29(2), 101-112. Retrieved October 21, 2020 from .

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