- 21st Century Cyber Charter School [est. 1999] http://www.21stcenturycyber.org
- Pinnacle Charter High School [est. 1998] http://www.pinnacleeducation.com
- Choice2000 [est.2003]
Online Private High Schools
Online private high schools are similar to regular private high schools. They are funded privately, so students need to pay tuition when enrolling. This can become rather expensive. The list of accredited high schools below was recommended by Online High Schools – http://www.cyberhighschools.com:
- Penn Foster Career School [est. 1932] http://www.pennfoster.edu/
- Center for Distance and Independent Study – University of Missouri Columbia [est. 2004] http://extension.missouri.edu/main/working4mo/cdis.aspx
- CompuHigh [est. 1994] http://www.compuhigh.com
Online Public High Schools
Online public schools are cyber extensions of traditional government run public schools. They receive government funding and abide by government rules and regulations. They offer greater flexibility in terms of subject choice and variety, schedules and so forth. State funded online high schools can be found in several states, including: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Examples include:
- Alabama Online High School [est. 2000] http://www.onlineschools.com/high-school/alabama
- North Carolina Virtual Public School [est. 2002] http://www.ncvps.org
- Sequoia Choice School Arizona Distance Learning School [est. 2003] http://www.sequoiachoice.org/
Unfortunately, only public high schools were to be targeted. No study has to date been undertaken to include private- and charter high schools and universities delivering online high school courses.
- 36% of all public schools had students enrolled in distance learning, of which 68% were public high schools.
- 43% of the public high schools that offer distance learning made use of the internet as a delivery method
In spite of these figures being the most current official data available, it is old. In the NCES survey, 70% of the public high schools indicated that they intend expanding their online schooling capability. However, no projections were made in terms of the expected annual growth in online high school students.
- Offering courses not otherwise available at school
- Offering Advance Placement / College level course
- Growing population and limited space
- Scheduling conflicts
- Meeting the needs of specific groups of students
- Allowing students to retake failed courses
- 30% cited that regular schools have a poor learning environment;
- 14% objected to what was being taught at school;
- 11% felt that their children were not being challenged sufficiently at school;
- 33% cited religion;
- 9% quoted morality.
- Take courses not offered by their school;
- Take courses with scheduling challenges;
- Re-take previously failed course/s;
- Take advance placement courses;
- Take additional courses.
There are other further advantages to online high schools:
- Special needs students;
- Students in rural areas;
- Students in areas lacking good schools.
- Students with creative and sport careers;
- Students who suffer from health challenges.
- Motivation: To benefit from online education, students need to be self-motivated as they would be working without the constant encouragement and input from an ever-present teacher.
- Reading Skills and Comprehension: Above average reading skills of comprehension is also necessary, because the student will have to read the curriculum and study material in many cases.
- Typing Ability: If a student cannot type at a reasonable speed, he or she may have difficulty completing assessments on time.
- Self-discipline: There is a risk that the student could end up surfing the web or playing internet games instead of focusing on the course material if he or she is not self-disciplined.
- Location:If the student is in the proximity of the school’s physical location, it means that he or she can attend those field trips, social days and so forth invariably organized by the online high schools.
- Friends: If the child has many friends of a similar age in his or her neighborhood, it means that he or she can ‘hang out’ with them and participate in the group context.
- Sport and Culture: If the student participates in a sport or in a cultural activity that encourages social contact, the impact of the lack of face to face contact will be negated, provided that the participation is on a frequent basis.
Considerations When Evaluating Online Education
- Teachers - Teachers must be appropriately qualified in the subject matter they are responsible for and be able to effectively work in an online environment. Check if the school offers extra assistance to students by means of direct communication to teachers and what the student-teacher ratio is.
- Curriculum - The Curriculum must be relevant and comply with the appropriate state standards for student learning. The course design should promote the active participation of the student and allow interaction with both the teacher and his or her online classmates in the course. Make a point of looking at the Curriculum to see whether the online school you wish to attend offers the courses you need. Check the duration of these courses and whether you have the option of completing it in a shorter time span if you need to. Some online schools allow students complete flexibility whereas others have fixed schedules and deadlines. Some schools have virtual class sessions where students are required to attend.
- Assessment - Assessments should take place at regular intervals so as to provide the student with feedback on his or her progress. The assessments should require demonstrable skills and insight on the relevant subject matter.
- Technological Infrastructure - The technology used to deliver the course material must be reliable, available, simple and economical. Technical support must be available to both students and teachers at any time. The student will need a computer that is updated and able to run the latest word processing and multimedia programs. Sound and a decent graphics card are a must. Establish whether the online program you choose, will require of you to invest in additional software or if the additional software required (if any) is included in the tuition costs.
- Online school accreditation - A school’s policies and programs have to meet certain minimum criteria set by an outside agency to be granted accreditation. Accreditation of a school is very important as it can influence the future of students enrolled at the school. Accreditation is a protective tool for schools, students and employers alike. It endorses and gives credit to schools that meet their standards and ensures that students are being taught at a level that is nationally acceptable. Likewise, employers prefer to hire students who have graduated from accredited schools as they can be assured that the student has received a certain standard of educations. Students graduating from accredited online schools should have the same chance of being granted admission to colleges as students who graduate from traditional schools provided that they have completed a college prep diploma from an accredited online high school, and that their grades meet the admission requirements. Several reputable Universities (such as Nebraska, Miami, Missouri etc), are involved with online high schools nowadays. The important thing here is to ask the school by which Regional Agency they were accredited, to contact the Department of Education to verify whether the accreditation agency is in fact approved to perform accreditations and then to contact the agency to get a reference on the school. The school needs to be accredited by one of the regional accreditation agencies. Also ask for the school’s rating with the State’s Department of Education and a copy of the annual evaluation report. It will offer a balanced view of the school’s ability to maintain the required educational standards. This is a good precaution to take – regardless of whether the school is online or traditional!
- Penn Foster – As at May 2007, the total price for the complete 21.5 credit Penn Foster High School Diploma Program is $985.00. This includes tuition, a registration fee, a credit application fee, a technology fee as well as shipping and handling charges. Tuition includes one on one contact with the teachers and the Diploma is both for general and college prep.
- CompuHigh – As at May 2007, CompuHigh, which is a Whitmore School, offers two complete Diploma packages: High School Diploma and High School Diploma Plus at $985 and $1,485 respectively. Whilst both Diplomas are for general (18 credits) or college prep (22 credits), and whilst both offer one-to-one contact with teachers, the Plus Diploma also provides: a personal education counselor weekly progress report plus a monthly overview – both of which are submitted to the student’s parents via email, phone calls to the parents as needed, monitoring of the student's progress by his or her counselor, and intervention by the student’s counselor when necessary.