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Special Education: What curriculum should I use with independent study? (2022)

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

The preferred options to be paired with the use of an executive function coach


As executive function coaches, we do not create curriculum, but we do support students in developing and maintaining a plan to complete their curriculum.


Here are our recommendations on curriculum options if you are choosing to complete independent study or homeschool your student.


If you are choosing to homeschool, before starting your homeschool journey, make sure to review the homeschool guidelines by state which can be found here.


Keyboard and mouse for student who is completing independent study.
What curriculum should I use if I am homeschooling or completing independent study?


How to use this guide:

Review the options below and choose one of the programs you would like to enroll in. Then, let us know when you have enrolled in the program and we will support your student in planning, completing, and following through on their homeschool work.


Here are our top recommendations for homeschool programs. Do your due diligence and check each of them out. They are all different and you want to choose what works for YOU and your family.


If you are looking to contract with EF Specialists as a Non Public Agency (NPA) in California, read this:


Most districts have an online learning program that they already utilize for students who need to make up credits, adult learners, and students who need to work from home.


Check with your school administration to learn more about this option and also Google <the name of your school district + online learning> to see what comes you can find online.

The district will need to provide your student with a point person who can do the following:

  • If your student is switching into independent study courses mid-semester, the district liaison will need to re-position your student in the courses to account for the work he or she has already done during her in-person classes

  • The district liaison must be available to implement your students and modification per their IEP; for example, if you student needs extended time on one of their online exams, the district liaison can adjust the course settings to allow for this.

  • The district liaison will need to coordinate with your student's academic counselor to ensure their transcripts are updated upon completion of online courses

At Executive Function Coaching Specialists, we can provide the following the support the online learning process:

  • Guidance to help your student follow through and complete their necessary courses

  • Facilitate monthly team meeting to engage your family and the school team toward helping your student stay on track to graduate

  • Providing the academic support necessary to make adequate progress in each of her online courses -- many of our specialists hold credentials in different subject matter areas.

Suggest your district special education administrator reviews our review our NPA page if they wish to contract with us directly.


This is a win-win for California school districts as they will receive partial reimbursement for our services, and your family will get the individualized support your student needs to make appropriate progress and access their education.


Independent Study Options for Students in California:


Unique Learning System

Unique Learning System is a one‑of‑a‑kind solution designed specifically to help students with special learning needs master their state’s extended standards. From one convenient, cloud‑based platform, educators deliver differentiated, standards‑aligned content enhanced by powerful assessments, data tools, and evidence‑based instructional support. Students from pre-K through transition have the advantage of consistent, high-quality instruction, a motivating interactive learning environment, engaging symbol support, and a path to independence.



Laurel Springs School

"Laurel Springs' online program helps students grow and excel academically and personally. Our innovative and flexible approach enables students to adapt their schedules to outside interests and passions."


Positives:

  • 230 course options

  • 292 UC a-g approved courses

  • Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and Cognia

  • You will have access to an academic counselor

  • Rolling admissions

  • You can take single courses

Learn more:

Link to review:


If you are outside of California, I suggest:

Edgenuity Virtual Academy


Power Homeschool is a program intended to aid parents in homeschooling their children. Parents may choose up to 7 courses at a time from numerous courses (grades PreK-12). Students are able to learn at their own pace under the supervision and assistance of their parent.


Costs:

Link to review:


Other options:


Power Homeschool

Power Homeschool is a program intended to aid parents in homeschooling their children. Parents may choose up to 7 courses at a time from numerous courses (grades PreK-12). Students are able to learn at their own pace under the supervision and assistance of their parent.


Positives:

  • Choose from over 400 course options, K-12

  • Video-based lessons

  • Interactive practice problems

  • Help videos for difficult concepts

  • Reviews & exams

  • Memorization drills

  • Digital books

  • Onsite lesson plans

Drawbacks:

  • Linked to Acellus which has been associated with some controversial online opinions by founder, Roger Billings.


Link to review:

https://www.powerhomeschool.org


Stride K12

Choose from a range of options and decide whether you would like to utilize a full-curriculum or hand select only a few courses.


Positives:

  • Includes K-12 courses

  • Is tuition free in some cases

  • Can access teachers through program

Drawbacks:

  • May be located in a different state

  • Customer service can be slow

  • Requirements for completing programs can be extensive


Link to review:

https://www.k12.com


Time4Learning

"Time4Learning is an online PreK-12 curriculum, covering math, language arts, science, and social studies. Unlike virtual schools with teachers, we empower you to take control of when, where, and how your child learns."


Positives:

  • Students can login anywhere and anytime.

  • Automated Grading & Reporting

  • Start, Stop, or Pause Membership Anytime

Drawbacks:

  • By closing your account, you will lose access to your records

  • You will need Internet connection at all times to use this program

  • Some lessons requirement supplemental learning

Link to review:


BYU Independent Study

"BYU Independent Study online courses provide flexible ways for students to catch up, fill course gaps, get ahead, and even graduate early. Friendly support is available every step of the way!"


Positives:

  • 470+ open-enrollment courses

  • Affordable, transferable credits

  • 12-month online enrollments

Drawbacks:

  • Only for high school and college students (no K-8)

  • Costlier option

  • Must complete courses in a limited time frame

Link to review:


EdGenuity Virtual Academy

Edgenuity Virtual Academy is a fully accredited online K–12 school open to students in the U.S. and around the world. Students attending Edgenuity Virtual Academy have the benefit of accessing a virtual campus from the convenience of their home and at their own pace, time, and schedule, all with the same accreditation offered through public high schools. Edgenuity Virtual Academy serves students from the public, private, and homeschool communities. We offer a personalized learning environment designed to help students achieve their educational goals


Positives:

  • Nationally accredited through Cognia

  • Video-based lessons

  • Self-paced

  • Clear indicators of progress through course

Drawbacks:

  • No live lessons

  • Sign up process is more time consuming than other options


Link to review:


Ori Learning

Ori Learning supports middle and high school students on their journey to success with Transition and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curricula.

Ori Learning provides:

  • Ready-to-teach lessons that support flexible instruction with minimal prep time

  • Interactive content that captivates ALL students with built-in translation and accommodations

  • Formative and summative assessments provide real-time progress and usage reporting at every level in your school or district.

Ori Learning's platform is based on flexible teaching modes, translation and accommodations, interactive lessons & assessments, advance data reporting, and personalized support and training.


Link to review:


What's next?

Choose one of these programs and get started! Our executive function coaches are ready to help your student each step of the way through your selected program.


To book a free consult to discuss how we can support your student through your selected program, visit our inquiry page.


About the author:

Sean McCormick is a parent, husband and international executive function coach. He is the founder of Executive Function Specialists, an online coaching business which guides middle, high school, and college students in overcoming procrastination, disorganization and anxiety by teaching time management, prioritization and communication skills so they feel motivated, prepared, and empowered.


He has also spoken about executive function at prominent venues including the Association of Educational Therapists' National Conference, at the Athenian School and on the Qualified Tutors Podcast.


Sean is regularly featured across media channels for his expertise on executive function, ADHD and special education.

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EFS started with one teacher deciding that kids with ADHD needed better access to quality executive function coaching services. Since then, we have grown to a team of specialists working both private students and public schools to enhance executive function skills for all students. 

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