SAN FRANCISCO, April 28, 2015 – The many services that special education departments must provide students can be taxing on schools, particularly those schools experiencing chronic shortages of special education teachers. Districts are doing their best to spread already thin resources further. State departments are trying to alleviate the shortage by creating alternate certification programs to allow individuals to obtain temporary licenses while receiving on the job training and/or attending college, however this is leaving schools with inexperienced special education teachers. To truly help special education departments with staffing issues, PresenceLearning is now offering access to online special education teachers. PresenceLearning connects schools with fully credentialed, highly qualified special education teachers located remotely who can deliver special education instruction to students with mild, moderate and severe needs.
“Schools are struggling with a persistent, nationwide shortage of special education teachers. They find it hard to recruit and retain qualified professionals, and their existing teachers struggle to serve high caseloads,” said Stephanie Dahlke, Director of Behavioral and Mental Health Services at PresenceLearning and a former Director of Special Education in Idaho. “Gaining access to an online special education teacher allows districts to fully serve their students with high quality, specialized academic instruction. The flexibility of live online delivery makes it easier to incorporate such specialized instruction into jam-packed school schedules and to maximize onsite staff.”
Just like traditional special education instruction, PresenceLearning’s online special education instruction services can be used both individually and in small groups. For students in general education classrooms with mild needs, the online special educators can support academic instruction, collect data, and facilitate assignments as easily as on-site educators. For students with moderate needs, online educators can provide necessary support and scaffolding to lessons or deliver lessons from the school’s special education replacement curriculum. For students with more severe needs, online educators can lead individual or small group functional-based instruction on life skills such as money, time, reading a menu or a bus schedule and more.
Hume Lake Charter School located 5,550 feet up in California’s remote Sequoia National Forest, is a prime example of one of the factors contributing to the nationwide shortage of special education teachers – remoteness. The independent charter school was already using PresenceLearning’s online speech therapy services with a kindergarten student when teachers noticed he exhibited processing issues and short term memory loss. After an evaluation by a local psychologist, Hume Lake Charter School approached PresenceLearning about providing special education instruction.
“PresenceLearning’s online special education teacher has been leading specialized, interactive activities that focus on increasing our student’s processing and short-term memory skills for about a year now,” said Michael Stockdale, principal of Hume Lake Charter School. “The transition was seamless. Our remotely located special education teacher and our newly hired on-site special education teacher work closely together, giving us more flexibility and capacity to serve more students in need next year.”
Now in second grade, the student receives two half-hour sessions of both online speech therapy and online special education instruction each week. Next year, Hume Lake Charter School plans to serve approximately a dozen children with special needs in a dedicated resource room, which will also serve as the school’s online services headquarters.
Since 2009, PresenceLearning’s online speech therapy services have provided schools with a practical, affordable new option for service delivery: web-based access to a nationwide network of live, highly qualified, fully licensed speech-language pathologists who are available whenever and wherever they are needed. PresenceLearning also offers online occupational therapy (OT), online behavioral and mental health services, online special education instruction and online assessments. By partnering with PresenceLearning, school districts can fill staffing gaps related to acute and chronic shortages of special education and related services personnel, reduce high caseloads for onsite personnel, reduce their backlog of assessments, improve student outcomes and improve efficiency. PresenceLearning also offers access to technical specialists, as well as culturally and linguistically diverse professionals.
PresenceLearning has delivered over half a million live online therapy sessions to students in public school districts, charter schools and virtual schools of all sizes nationwide.
PresenceLearning (www.presencelearning.com) is the leading telehealth network of providers of clinical services and assessments to educational organizations. The PresenceLearning care network has provided over one million sessions of live, online speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, behavioral interventions and mental health services, diagnostic services and assessments, and early childhood services for children with special needs.