Because of their ability to provide a quality education in a flexible format, the number of online schools is growing. With public schools offering online options in addition to a number of private online schools, it can be overwhelming to choose from the numerous options available.
Here are 6 questions to consider when looking into a prospective program. Following each is a brief description of IVLA’s approach each question.
What curriculum is used? Since this is the framework for online learning, it is a crucial question. Ask for a demo of the curriculum. Is it entirely delivered online? Are there teacher-graded portions? Does it align with Common Core standards? Is it faith-based? These are just some of the questions you should ask to be sure you are familiar with the type and quality of curriculum your student will be using.
At IVLA, we have a unique approach in that we allow parents to choose the curriculum their children in grades K-12 will use. We have six of the best in online comprehensive programs from which to choose. Options include Bible-based, honors/AP, math and language arts supplemental practice courseware, Common Core, non- Common Core, foreign language training, career/technical training, ACT/SAT prep, and numerous high school electives.
How will teachers support my student? Sadly, some online schools assign so many students to each teacher that it is difficult the teacher to respond to student questions. Ask for student/teacher ratios as well as teacher response policy. These are good indications as to the teacher support your student will receive.
IVLA has certified and highly qualified teachers. Our class ratios are approximately 10 students to each teacher for a course (each teacher has on average 5 courses). Teachers are required to respond to student requests within 24 hours. To add an extra layer of support and communication, IVLA began a mentor program in 2014. Each student has a mentor who works closely with the family to track student progress (each mentor works closely with 15-20 families).
Is the school accredited? Accreditation is important because it means there is accountability. An accredited online school has to abide by academic and procedural standards to ensure students receive a quality education.
IVLA is accredited by AdvancEd. In addition to the initial accreditation process, IVLA is periodically reviewed to verify complicity with required standards.
Will my student receive a diploma? A diploma is important to a student for life-after-high-school. Be sure to know what kind of diploma is issued by the online school. Does it signify the student has completed courses necessary for admission to college or university? The end result of their time in online school should fit with your student’s overall future goals.
IVLA offers three different diplomas – Basic, Standard, and College Prep. Requirements for these diplomas differ in number of credits and types of courses. Click here to view specific requirements.
How are parents involved? It is a good idea to get a sense of what is expected of the parent in the online school you are reviewing. Is the parent expected to provide supplemental instruction? Assist with technology? Track student progress? Is there support for parents? Knowing what is expected of you will help to determine if a particular school is a good fit for your family.
In addition to choosing the curriculum their students will use, parents at IVLA are expected to communicate with teachers and mentors. Also they are asked to encourage their students to attend homeroom and to seek help from teachers when needed. There is a facebook group for IVLA families.
Are there opportunities for social interaction? Online learning could become lonely. Of course parents can arrange as many extra-curricular activities as they like to meet the important need for socialization. Yet it is an added bonus when the online school makes allowances for such opportunities as well.
IVLA facilitates homerooms and clubs for its students. Meeting twice a month in a secure online classroom, homerooms and clubs offer students the chance to interact with one another in a cooperative learning environment directed by a teacher.