TN 26 (04-12)

PR 08205.031 Nevada

A. PR 12-085 David; Independent Study Program;

DATE: April 3, 2012

1. SYLLABUS

The Renaissance Academy Charter School (Renaissance) is an internet-based charter school in Nevada, which offers full kindergarten through high school curriculum. Renaissance Academy Charter School, recognized by the state of Nevada as a public charter school, qualifies as an educational institution (EI) for SSA purposes. The student must also meet Federal standards for full-time attendance and all other requirements for the payment of benefits.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

Whether David’s attendance at the Renaissance Academy Charter School meets agency standards for full time attendance required for Auxiliary Child Benefits after age 18.

SHORT ANSWER

Yes. The Renaissance Academy Charter School qualifies as educational institution under federal law, and its internet-based (online) program provides an acceptable form of approved distance study under Nevada law.

BACKGROUND

David, a recipient of child’s insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, attends classes at Renaissance Academy Charter School (Renaissance), an internet-based charter school in Nevada. He has been attending Renaissance since February 2012. The Nevada Department of Education identifies Renaissance as a Nevada public charter school offering distance education under the sponsorship of the State Public Charter School Authority. 1 On Form SSA-1372-BK, David reported attending online classes at Renaissance approximately 30 hours per week. Renaissance administrator Gary certified under penalty of perjury that David correctly reported his school attendance, and that his program would last at least 13 weeks.

In response to SSA questions, Roy, the Renaissance Head of School, certified that the school offered full kindergarten through high school curriculum. He stated that the program tracked time its students spend online and that students must log-in for 180 days of instruction. Roy described the instruction method as “online,” and confirmed that students have interactive access with a teacher and other students.

Renaissance is accredited by the Northwest Accreditation Commission (NAC). Renaissance was first accredited in 2011 and has a Provisional Accreditation Certificate2 for 2011-2012 school year from the NAC.

ANALYSIS

To be eligible for child’s insurance benefits between the ages of 18 and 19, the child must be in full-time attendance (FTA) at an educational institution (EI) that provides elementary or secondary courses. Social Security Act § 202(d)(1)(B), 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1)(B); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367; Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001(A). A student will be considered enrolled in an EI if he or she participates in an independent study program acceptable under the state’s educational statutes. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(2); POMS RS 00205.250(B)(5); RS 00205.285(C)(2). With limited exceptions, FTA is defined as 20 hours per week. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(c). For an independent study school, “the number of hours spent in school attendance are determined by combining the number of hours of attendance at a school facility with the agreed upon number of hours spent in independent study.” Id.

Nevada educational statutes recognize online instruction as an acceptable form of secondary education. See Nev. Rev. Stat. § 388.826 (defining “distance education” as instruction delivered by computer or internet). Nev. Rev. Stat. § 388.866 provides the requirements of a distance education program, charging the governing body of a charter school to ensure that for each course offered through the program, a teacher: provides the necessary work assignments to each enrolled pupil; meets or otherwise communicates with the pupil at least once a week; and enters into a written agreement with the pupil and parent or legal guardian outlining objectives, timeline and grading criteria for the course. Id. State law further requires recordation of full attendance for each week that a teacher meets or otherwise communicates with a distance education pupil during the course to discuss progress, and that such communications must be included in the master register of enrollment and attendance. Nev. Admin. Code. § 387.193(2).

The Nevada Department of Education approved Renaissance as a Nevada public charter school. Renaissance is therefore an approved public school that offers its instruction online. Accordingly, it qualifies as an acceptable independent study program under the regulations and POMS RS 00205.285.

Although David does not attend classes in a classroom, FTA requirements are satisfied when the student spends the requisite number of hours in independent study. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(c). Based on the information provided on Form SSA 1372 BK, David appears to have satisfied agency requirements for FTA. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(c); POMS RS 00205.300; see also RS 00205.735(A) (explaining student’s responsibility to submit a completed Form SSA-1372-BK or its equivalent). In fact, both David and Gary have certified that David “attended” the on-line school 30 hours per week. See POMS RS 00205.300(B) (“Consider the State requirements met if the school considers the student to be full-time based on the school’s standards and practices for day students.”). The additional evidence submitted shows that the school lasts at least 13 weeks and attendance is monitored by checking the number of days the student logs-in.

CONCLUSION

Renaissance Academy Charter School, recognized by the state as a public charter school, qualifies as an educational institution under 20 C.F.R. § 404.367 and POMS RS 00205.285. Assuming David attended Renaissance according to his reported schedule, he met the requirements for full-time attendance at a qualified independent study program.


B. PR 12-039 Jamal; Independent Study Program; Nevada Virtual Academy

DATE: December 29, 2011

1. SYLLABUS

Nevada Virtual Academy (NVA) is an internet based charter school in Nevada. Its internet based program provides an acceptable form of approved distance study under Nevada law, therefore it qualifies as an educational institution (EI) for SSA purposes. The student must also meet Federal standards for full-time attendance and all other requirements for payment of benefits.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

Whether Jamal’s attendance at the Nevada Virtual Academy meets agency standards for full time attendance required for Auxiliary Child Benefits after age 18.

SHORT ANSWER

Yes. The Nevada Virtual Academy qualifies as educational institution under federal law, and its internet-based (online) program provides an acceptable form of approved distance study under Nevada law.

BACKGROUND

Jamal, a recipient of child’s insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, attends classes at Nevada Virtual Academy, an internet-based charter school in Nevada. He has been attending Nevada Virtual since August 2009. The Nevada Department of Education identifies Nevada Virtual as a Nevada public charter school.3 On Form SSA-1372-BK, Jamal reported attending online classes at Nevada Virtual approximately 30 hours per week. He expected to graduate in June 2013. A registrar and records manager from Nevada Virtual, Kirby, certified under penalty of perjury that Jamal correctly reported his school attendance, and that his program would last at least 13 weeks.

In response to SSA questions, Kirby stated that the Nevada Virtual offered a full high school curriculum. He stated that the program required at least 30 hours of attendance per week, tracked time its students spend online, and kept attendance logs, which it submitted to the state. Kirby described class sessions as “online classrooms administered by the student’s teacher. Instruction is given by the teachers and students are able [to] participate throughout the class interacting with other students and teachers.” He also stated that students were able to contact teachers via telephone, electronic communications, and personally “through frequent activities held by the school.” Last, Kirby stated that Nevada Virtual was accredited by the Northwest Accreditation Commission (NAC). He submitted a Provisional Accreditation Certificate for 2010-2011 from the NAC.

ANALYSIS

To be eligible for child’s insurance benefits between the ages of 18 and 19, the child must be in full-time attendance (FTA) at an educational institution (EI) that provides elementary or secondary courses. Social Security Act § 202(d)(1)(B), 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1)(B); 20 C.F.R. § 404.367; Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RS 00205.001(A). A student will be considered enrolled in an EI if he or she participates in an independent study program acceptable under the state’s educational statutes. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(a)(2); POMS RS 00205.250(B)(5); RS 00205.285(C)(2). With limited exceptions, FTA is defined as 20 hours per week. 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(c). For an independent study school, “the number of hours spent in school attendance are determined by combining the number of hours of attendance at a school facility with the agreed upon number of hours spent in independent study.” Id.

Nevada educational statutes recognize online instruction as an acceptable form of secondary education. See Nev. Rev. Stat. § 388.826 (defining “distance education” as instruction delivered by computer or internet). Nev. Rev. Stat. § 388.866 provides the requirements of a distance education program, charging the governing body of a charter school to ensure that for each course offered through the program, a teacher: provides the necessary work assignments to each enrolled pupil; meets or otherwise communicates with the pupil at least once a week; and enters into a written agreement with the pupil and parent or legal guardian outlining objectives, timeline and grading criteria for the course. Id. A copy of such a written agreement, signed by Jamal and his parent Jimell , was submitted with the application.

State law further requires recordation of full attendance for each week that a teacher meets or otherwise communicates with a distance education pupil during the course to discuss progress, and that such communications must be included in the master register of enrollment and attendance. Nev. Admin. Code. § 387.193(2).

The Nevada Department of Education approved Nevada Virtual as a Nevada public charter school. Nevada Virtual is therefore an approved public school that offers its instruction online. Accordingly, it qualifies as an acceptable independent study program under the regulations and POMS RS 00205.285.

Although Jamal does not attend classes in a classroom, FTA requirements are satisfied when the student spends the requisite number of hours in independent study. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(c). Based on the information provided on Form SSA1372 BK, Jamal appears to have satisfied agency requirements for FTA. 4 See 20 C.F.R. § 404.367(c); POMS RS 00205.300; see also RS 00205.735(A) (explaining student’s responsibility to submit a completed Form SSA-1372-BK or its equivalent). In fact, both Jamal and Kirby have certified that Jamal “attended” the on-line school 30 hours per week for the entire school year. See POMS RS 00205.300(B) (“Consider the State requirements met if the school considers the student to be full-time based on the school’s standards and practices for day students.”).

CONCLUSION

Nevada Virtual Academy, recognized by the state as a public charter school, qualifies as an educational institution under 20 C.F.R. § 404.367 and POMS RS 00205.285. Assuming Jamal attended Nevada Virtual according to his intended 30 hours per week, he met the requirements for full-time attendance at a qualified independent study program.



Footnotes:

[1]

See Nevada Department of Education, Charter School Directory 3-21-12.

[2]

Provisional Accreditation indicates that NAC has completed an initial evaluation, and/or site visit, of the school and verified that Renaissance has attained “substantial compliance” with NAC standards. Renaissance must attain full compliance during the provisional accreditation period of up to three years. See Northwest Accreditation Commission Evidence-Based School Evaluation: Initial Visit Report for Supplemental School Accreditation, July 2011.

[3]

See Nevada Department of Education, 2010-2011 Nevada Public Charter School Calendar Schedule.

[4]

The information provided for our review did not include any additional detail regarding Jamal’s individualized course of study that would account for the 30 hours of study per week. Additional development to ensure that Jamal met all agency requirements may be warranted. See POMS RS 00205.285(C) (explaining that the field office should obtain as much information as possible about the school, including any written agreement between the school and the student, and the school’s attendance requirements); see also Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 15808(E) (requiring online schools to keep logs of student academic tasks for attendance purposes).


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/1508205031
PR 08205.031 - Nevada - 04/18/2012
Batch run: 04/18/2012
Rev:04/18/2012