With school choice on the horizon, many schools are wondering what they can do to keep student enrollments and stay competitive in a changing educational landscape.
Today’s students face far more obligations than just their classes; students work, support their families, and fulfill other responsibilities. Charter schools use virtual learning to offer students more flexibility and control over their learning than the traditional brick-and-mortar setting. But that doesn’t mean traditional public schools can’t offer the same thing. In fact, 84% of Americans overwhelmingly support improving failing public schools over closing them. So how can your school keep student enrollments and better meet the needs of a changing student population?
Establish your own virtual school.
It’s easier than it sounds. A quality online learning provider can help you leverage online curriculum and instruction to meet the needs of your students, lower dropout rates, and increase enrollments.
Help homebound students + alternative learners
There are a variety of reasons the traditional setting doesn’t work for some learners. In addition to parental choice, students may be homebound due to illness, the need to work full-time, disciplinary issues, bullying, or the desire to focus on athletics. Whatever the reason may be, providing your own virtual program allows students to work on their courses in the time and setting of their choice.
Offer more courses + offset teacher shortages
Give students more options, even if you don’t have the staff to support it. Using a virtual school provider that offers a variety of AP®, honors, world language, and career and technical elective courses enables you to give students more options that align with their educational or career goals. And when students have an active role in picking courses, they’re more likely to stay engaged and motivated.
Provide more ways to graduate
Even though high school completion rates are on the rise, dropout rates are still alarmingly high. Each year over one million students drop out of high school in the United States and around 2,000 high schools graduate less than 60% of their students. Help your at-risk students get back on track by using online credit recovery courses that provide self-paced learning and pretesting – so students spend more time on what they need and less time on content they’ve already mastered.
What should you look for in a virtual program partner?
Picking the right virtual program partner is crucial to the success of your program. Aside from working with a fully online-accredited learning program that lets your school retain student and per pupil funding, there are other important aspects to look for.
Today’s students are preparing for a work world that is more challenging than ever. So make sure you’re working with a learning provider whose curriculum is aligned to state and Common Core-standards. Ensure the online curriculum can be customized to match up with your state’s specific standards.
Engaging course content
Virtual courses should be so much more than just a textbook on a screen. Make sure the courses contain lessons with direct-instruction videos, providing explicit instruction that students can pause and rewind. Interactive, multi-media instruction and activities grounded in real-world concepts will help your students make connections between instruction and real-life situations that drive deeper understanding.
Support for students
In addition to the supports and scaffolds available within the course content, look for a virtual program partner that has state-certified, highly-qualified virtual instructors who can serve as the teacher-of-record and provide instruction, re-teaching, and remediation – as well as supplemental resources like tutors and success coaches to make sure students stay on track and provide progress updates to families.
Support for administrators
A quality virtual learning partner will have a team of professionals help you manage every aspect of implementing and managing a successful virtual program. That includes everything from device agnostics and reporting to professional development and support for marketing your program to students and parents.
With the help of the right virtual program partner, your school can evolve and adapt to the needs of an ever changing student population. When you offer students options that aren’t confined to a desk, classroom, or building the opportunities for success expand greatly.