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Concerns About Attending a School Year Short-Term Programs Class

Q: Should I be worried that my student will miss school and fall behind?

There is a rational concern that if a student attends a School Year Programs class, s/he could fall behind in classroom instruction. In our experience, however, the opposite can occur. Many students report that sitting in the classroom does not help them learn, but an explanation from a Short-Term Programs teacher finally makes things clear. 

Once students learn the special adaptations needed to access the curriculum, their subsequent learning is faster and more efficient. In addition, participating in instruction with other bright visually impaired students and adults can provide a tremendous transformation in a student’s personal motivation to succeed in school. This change in motivation can have an impact on their success in mastering the TEKS as well. 

We encourage districts to evaluate the impact of a School Year Short-Term Programs class not by how far behind the student is during the week after the class, but by whether the student can not only catch up but employ newly acquired skills for improved subsequent learning.


More About Who Can Attend

Q: Why do you only have classes for academic students? The weekend, non-academic classes look like they would be great for my student who is functioning below grade level. Do you ever make exceptions?

Short-Term Programs was started in the 2000-2001 school year to meet the needs of academic students who attend school in their local districts. There are many reasons why we must limit the classes to only this population:

  • TSBVI provides many different kinds of programs, for different populations of students, at various times during the year. Each is uniquely constructed for the specific students it is designed to serve. School Year Short-Term Program classes are based upon a curriculum that is targeted at a high academic level, even if the classes have titles that reflect enrichment themes. The skills and instructional strategies infused into our activities are developed for students who learn easily and quickly.
  • School Year Short-Term Programs are designed to teach students who can easily transition to a new setting, learn quickly and independently, and return home to explain newly acquired skills to their teacher and parents (as appropriate to their age).
  • School Year Short-Term Program classes fill to capacity using our current criterion level. If we also accepted Practical Academic students we would not have space for the Academic students for whom the classes were developed.
  • We work hard to apply this criterion as equitably and fairly as possible to all applicants. It would not be OK to make an exception for one student and not for others.

Q: How do you determine the student’s academic level?

  • If a student has taken the regular or accommodated TAKS/STAAR and passed either the math or language arts test, we assume that the student is falling within a normal distribution of academic function. If a student has taken all TAKS/STAAR-M tests, we will want to know why, as apparently somebody was concerned about his or her level of academic ability. If the student has easily passed all TAKS/STAAR-M tests and the district is considering the regular test in the future, we might make an exception.

  • If the district has standardized test scores in language arts or math that indicate the student is functioning on or close to grade level, we would accept those scores as verification.

  • We look at how much support a student needs in order to keep up at a given grade level. If a student is keeping up only because s/he always has an adult right there to help with answers (i.e., support that extends beyond the needs related to just the vision loss), we will want more explanation.

  • If a student has recently been through a life change that has affected his or her ability to score well on tests, but it is projected that s/he has the potential to function academically in the future, we will give that consideration. Examples of this could include: recent loss of vision, lack of educational opportunity due to illness, unavailable services.

  • If, after applying all the above criteria, we are unable to determine whether a student can learn in a School Year Short-Term Programs model, we will typically bring the student to a class and see how well s/he does.

Q: Do you serve students who are home schooled or who are not U.S. citizens?
Yes. For students who are home schooled but receive some vision services from their district, we would like the student’s TVI to make the referral in collaboration with the parent. If there are no school services, the parent can make the referral. A student is not required to be a U.S. citizen in order to attend a Short-Term Program.
Q: Can the local TVI or the parent attend parts of the class?
  • TVIs are permitted to attend during certain classes when it is prearranged as a component of the student’s transition back to the district. In such cases, the TVI must work with our staff in advance and commit to ongoing communication with our Short-Term Programs teacher to assure that the student is benefiting from the teacher’s training at TSBVI.

  • In order to encourage students' independence, we ask that parents not attend during a Short-Term Programs class. Other students are also impacted when a parent is present. We will offer support for parents and students who have specific concerns. We have extensive experience providing a warm and nurturing environment.


More About Transportation

Q: What kinds of transportation are available for students and what is their cost?

Questions about transportation methods and costs are described in our Transportation Guidelines for School Year Short-Term Programs classes.

Q: Are there any other costs for a student to attend?

There are no costs for a student to attend a School Year Short-Term Programs class.


More About Requesting a Class (Make a Referral)

Q: How do I apply for a class?

See the section 'How and When to Refer' under 'Referral, Admission, and Attendance Procedures'.

Q: What’s the difference between a Referral and an Application?

  • Referral: The Referral form is a request for your student to attend one or more School Year Short-Term Programs class. A referral is required, but does not mean your student will be accepted. The referral provides contact information and helps us determine student eligibility and appropriateness. Only one referral form is required each year. If you later wish to add a class, send an email to .

  • Application: If your student is accepted, we will ask you to go online to create or update your student’s application information (this is the information we maintain about your student in our database). Students who have been here before for a School Year or Summer Short-Term Programs class will already be in our database and only require an update to make sure the information is current. We will tell you when it is time to do this and help direct you to that site.

Q: How soon should I submit a Referral, and what do I need in order to make the Referral?

You can refer at any time you know your student wants to attend. Please be sure that there is a commitment from the family, student and school that the student will actually attend if accepted. Because our instruction is so individualized, students who are accepted for a class and later drop out cause us to totally revise our instructional plans. Also, another student might have attended, but was not accepted because we thought the class was full. Therefore a student may jeopardize future acceptance if we believe that a referral is not dependable.

Q: I’ve heard that students must have basic keyboarding skills before they can attend a technology class. Can that be defined more specifically?

Yes. Students must be able to touch type ten 5-letter words in one minute with about an 85% accuracy rate. To fully benefit from the class, your student should be able to type sentences using all letters and basic punctuation using correct finger position with developing speed and accuracy. Students should also have a working knowledge of where number, function, arrow, and modifier keys (e.g., Control, Caps Lock, Insert) are located on the keyboard. If you need support with this, you can obtain Talking Typer, a free program from APH, which will allow a student to practice this skill independently.

Q: When do you make your decision about accepting a student? Is it first come, first served?

To assure that your student is considered in the first round of acceptance, we recommend that you submit a referral at least two months before a class begins. Approximately two months before each class, we review all the referrals and select those students who we believe would most benefit. This includes a range of factors, such as prior attendance at TSBVI, adaptations needed for vision loss, instructional support needed, ability to benefit, age, ability to meet medical-dietary needs, and other considerations. After we accept this first round of students, additional students may be added if space permits.

Q: When is it too late to apply for a class?

Two weeks before a class begins is usually the very latest we can admit a student. If there is space left in a class we may occasionally be able to work with extremely diligent TVIs and parents who are willing to process all admission forms very quickly! Many of our classes have more referrals than we can accept up to 6 months before the class begins, so please don’t wait too long to apply.

Q: What if I want my student to register for another class, after I've already submitted the initial online Referral?

You do not have to send another Referral within the same school year. Just send an email to the requesting the additional class(es): . We request only one official referral per school year. (This does not include applying for Summer Short-Term Programs).

Q: How do I know my referral got to you?

You will receive an automatic confirmation after clicking 'Submit' on the referral form. There are times when a referral is not received at TSBVI, either due to network connectivity issues or individual restrictions put in place by your district. You should receive a response to your referral within 5 working days after submitting it. If you do not receive this confirmation of receipt, please send an email to .


Dropping Out After Acceptance

Q: What if your student is accepted and you later learn that s/he cannot attend?

We understand that life happens and circumstances occur unexpectedly, such as illness or a death in the family. However we want teachers and parents to understand that it is extremely difficult for us when one student drops out of an existing group. Because our instruction is so individualized, students who are accepted for a class and later drop out cause us to totally revise our instructional plans. Therefore a student may jeopardize future acceptance if we believe that a referral is not dependable.

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