Parents and Students Guide to Choosing an Online High SchoolJuly 30, 2011
The trend towards homeschooling is steadily on the rise. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (IES) 1.5 million, about three percent, of all US students were home schooled in 2007. That was a 74 percent increase from 1999[i] and this trend continues. The growth of homeschooling has coincided with internet improvements and innovations which led to the creation of several online schools. Today parents are faced with lots of choices, and that can be overwhelming. Just how does a parent choose the right online high school for their home schooled students?
Not all online high schools are equal, but there are several things that separate the best programs from the rest. Let’s take a look at the features which define quality programs.
Online High School Accreditation
Although private and online high schools are not federally mandated to have accreditation, many universities and employers only recognize accredited programs. Many state and federal jobs require this certification as well as certain federal programs granting student loan repayment.[ii] Accredited schools must meet and maintain established standards; parents can be assured that a level of educational quality will be maintained. It’s a good idea to check the accrediting agency and make sure it is recognized and legitimate.
Individualized Education Approach
Every student is unique with their own set of interests and needs, and that is true with both brick and mortar and online high schools. Many parents will opt out of a public or private school because they feel their child’s individual needs are not being met, so it’s important to avoid online high schools which use a ‘cookie cutter’ approach. Remember, one size does not fit all. Quality programs offer individualized curriculum with prerequisites and a variety of electives.
One on One Student Support
Online programs are designed to identify a student’s strengths and weaknesses so they can get the extra help and practice they need in specific areas. In a traditional school, some students get frustrated and bored after they quickly grasp a concept and have to wait for the rest of the class to catch up. Other students fall behind if they are slow in understanding even one area, and in some cases they never catch up. Of course computers have their limitations, so it’s important to look for an accredited online high school program with live support. The best programs provide qualified teachers to work with students and guide them through these important educational years.
Certified and Credentialed Staff
Quality programs have quality teaching staff that are certified and credentialed. Don’t be afraid to ask about their qualifications.
Look for an online high school that begins with a graduation plan. This helps both parents and students know how many credits they need to graduate. Programs that offer credit recovery and credits for experience can help students graduate sooner and reduce costs. Also ask about scholarships and grants.
Extensive Selection of Courses
A superior online high school program should offer a wide variety of classes, not just prerequisites but also exciting electives. Look for interactive math programs for Algebra 1 & 2, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, and Trigonometry. Virtual science labs give hands on experiences in Biology, Earth Systems, Physics, and Chemistry. Look for a complete series of English and History courses as well as a variety of World Language classes. Elective classes should include keyboarding classes, art, photography, physical education, and consumer skills.
Take your time and research Online High Schools and be assured that your child will receive an excellent high school experience