This article popped up on my reader this morning, in a perfect example of how and why my thoughts on online teaching continue to vary. Reading the article, though, it was clear that this particular program is very different from the one I am part of. From what I can tell, these credit-recovery courses are being used as completely independent-study programs, in which students are on their own with the curriculum without the guidance of a teacher. For students who already struggle with academics, this is not a great solution.
At our online school, students have a state-certified teacher for each subject who they can meet with live at least twice per week, in class on in one-on-one live help sessions. Teachers also reach out to struggling students through email and on the phone. I even have students text messaging me — whatever works! My goal is to keep each student as engaged as possible in learning, and to guide them through the learning process according to their individual needs. Without this guidance, there are maybe 5-10% of students who could handle a completely independent setting. The rest would struggle and possibly quit the program.
Now, that is not to say that we can get through to every student in this way. There are students in our program, unfortunately, who have needs beyond what we can provide in this setting. There are students who are already so far behind academically that I don’t even know where to begin. So I am sensitive to the question this article raises: should we allow students who are academically unprepared to fail and drop out of high school, or should we push them along towards graduation, even if their skills are not at the college level? What can we do to get these students up to speed before they are 16 or 17 and so far behind academically? But that is a question for a whole other post!
In the meantime, I will be following this story and will be interested to see if it provides a complete view of virtual schooling rather than just focusing on one unsuccessful application.