FINDING ONLINE CHARTER SCHOOLS
Doug Covey - CEO Blueprint Education
February 1, 2007
There are many benefits to an online charter school, including the flexibility of learning anytime and anywhere, the support of qualified professional educators, and an individualized and self-paced learning program that adapts to children’s unique needs.
A charter school is a state-funded institution that has more control of its programs than traditional public schools. Charter schools often experiment with nontraditional methods of teaching and learning.
Many states offer online charter school programs for elementary, middle, and high school students. Online charter schools have classes over the Internet with a portion of the learning done offline through selected readings, projects, chapter reviews, and study sessions - blending the best of online and offline components. Because online charter schools are a public service, the state pays for all textbooks and course materials.
Interested in enrolling a child in an online charter school? Here is what you will need to do in order to find out what schools exist in your community:
Step 1 – Determine if your state allows charter schools. Since 1991, 40 states have signed into law charter school legislation. In order to find out if your state allows charter schools, check out state-by-state information at the U.S. Charter Schools website (www.uscharterschools.org). If your state is not listed, it does not permit charter schools at this time.
Step 2 - Find the list of charter schools in your state. If your state has a charter school website, check that first. If not, try your state's Department of Education page.
Step 3 - Search for distance learning programs. Once you find a list of charter schools in your state, locate the programs that operate through distance learning. School names that include words such as "virtual”, “online," “correspondence” or "distance learning," is a good starting point. Some states even have a separate list for online charter programs.
Step 4 - Identify the school. Some states require online charter school students live in the same district that their charter school operates. At times, charter school operation areas are negotiated individually. One school may only admit students from their local district. Another may enroll students from a large portion of the state.
Step 5 – Identify the schools accreditation. Accreditation assures parents that the school is focused on raising student achievement, providing a safe and enriching learning environment, and maintaining an efficient and effective operation. Make sure the school is accredited by one of the six premier American regional school accrediting commissions. If the school is not properly accredited, secondary and post-secondary schools may reject the credits earned.
Step 6 - Evaluate the school. Not all charter schools are equal. Try to find a program that is well established, time tested and trusted curriculum, and has a high student satisfaction rate. Talking with parents, teachers, and students before enrolling can help put your mind at ease.
About Blueprint Education
Blueprint Education is a non-profit organization that has been helping students succeed since 1969. Services offered by Blueprint Education include distance learning, curriculum design, and alternative education. Blueprint Education’s programs and courses meet the high quality standards of the NCA-CASI, (North Central Association - Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement), CITA, Commission on International & Transregional Accreditation), and the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association). For more information call 1.800.426.4952 or visit their website at www.blueprinteducation.org.