With cutbacks and lacking education standards, more and more parents are opting to enroll their kids in an online public school.
“In spite of everyone’s best efforts the local school couldn’t meet their academic needs,” says Elwell, a former full-time teacher in southwest Ohio who has a son in 12th grade and a daughter in ninth. “My only regret was I didn’t do it sooner.”
Online schools come in a variety of fashions. Some are completely parent-run, much like home school and are not necessarily state accredited. Others are run through the school district and may be charter schools or public schools. The digital curriculum allows children to work at their own pace and receive either extra help, or extra challenges, depending on their skills level.
Enrollment in online public schools supported by education software provider K12 has grown from about 1,000 students 10 years ago to more than 100,000 today. Overall, more than half a million students are learning online full-time in the U.S., according to education researcher Ambient Insight. Nearly every state has at least one virtual school option, while 29 states offer full-time online schools.
Parents are flocking to the virtual schooling because it gives them the control of home schooling with the standards and material taught in brick and mortar schools.
Online schooling programs in elementary, middle and high school regular provide children with interaction between students, teachers and classmates while catering to the digital generation of today. Some parents and students are choosing a blended option, where students attend traditional school on a part-time basis and complete their classes online. This model may be the new method for school districts to curb overcrowding, and cut costs. More than 60 percent of respondents to a survey from Stanford University’s Hoover Institution supported public funding for online education.
Between full-time online schools, blended programs and supplemental online courses, more than four million K-12 students participated in a formal online learning program in 2010 and that number is expected to go up dramatically in the coming years.