As school choice continues to be a heavily discussed topic in education, many administrators are wondering how they can keep student enrollments and stay competitive in a changing educational landscape.
Most students face far more obligations than just their classes. Students work and participate in extracurricular activities and sports. Some help support their families, while other students are homebound for medical or disciplinary reasons. Whatever the reason, most students will benefit from the increased flexibility with and control over their education that virtual learning affords. When students and their families have more options to better suit their needs and lifestyles, everyone (student, family, and school community) is better served. So how can your school use virtual learning to keep student enrollments and better meet the needs of a changing student population?
Why Should You Establish a Virtual Program?
First of all, starting your own virtual program is easier than it sounds. A quality online learning provider can help you leverage online curriculum and virtual instructors to design a program that better meets the needs of all of your students, while also lowering dropout rates and increasing enrollments.
Help Homebound Students + Alternative Learners
There are a variety of reasons the traditional setting doesn’t work for all learners, and offering your own virtual program allows students to work on their courses in the time and setting of their choice, while also fulfilling their other responsibilities. You can also offer students the opportunity to continue their studies over the summer by establishing a summer program as part of your virtual program.
Offer More Courses + Offset Teacher Shortages
Give students more options even if you don’t have the staff to support it. Partnering with 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. To start, be sure you’re working with a fully online, accredited learning program that lets your school retain student and per pupil funding. Once you’ve done that, there are several other important things to look for in a virtual program partner.
Today’s students are preparing for a work world that is more challenging than ever, so make sure you’re partnering with a learning provider whose curriculum is aligned to state and Common Core standards, and can be customized to match up with your state’s specific standards or your district’s scope and sequence.
Engaging Course Content
Virtual courses should be much more than simply a textbook on a screen. Make sure the courses contain lessons with direct-instruction videos that provide explicit, engaging instruction. Interactive, multimedia instruction and activities grounded in real-world concepts will help your students make connections between instruction and real-life situations that drive deeper understanding.
State-Certified Virtual Instructors
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, reteaching, and remediation—as well as supplemental resources like tutors 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 to help you manage every aspect of implementing and managing a successful virtual program. That includes everything from 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.