Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My miserable experience with virtual high school

Someone asked me about my experience with virtual high schools.

First, let me say that all the students I know who did it were adding a class in addition to going to traditional high school. I have no direct experience with kids who are going to virtual high school full time.

Second, let me say that it was almost universally a failure.

The one success was when Evan took Health from the state virtual school. There was an actual teacher whom he could email and there were weekly deadlines. He did the work, completed the credit and got a good grade.

The other students, including Brian and Andrew, took a course from a university. It was self-paced. You needed to finish within a year. There were no instructors you could contact for help (although it was claimed that there would be). The math class problems were assigned from a book that was no longer available. This was extra frustrating as the book the university sold for the class was the new one.

There were also a couple of kids from the agency who signed up for the courses.

As far as I know, not a single one actually finished their course.

Not one.

So if I were doing it again I would be very careful about "self-paced" courses. I would not let my kid take a course unless I had the time and ability to be the teacher. I would make sure that there was a period of time in which I could cancel and get my money after I reviewed the materials.

My experience is very limited, so don't make any decisions on it. Talk to others.


  1. Anonymous12:21 PM

    I only have the one experience and it was an utter disaster. While I honestly thought that she'd thrive in that environment, I have nothing that ended up being a positive.

    Maybe if someone had been homeschooled already and wanted to delve into things a little more it would be a good fit. But it sure wasn't for us.

  2. I haven't done virtual high school. But as a homeschooler, I have known very few kids who could handle self paced for any extended period of time. Even at high school level they need a level of accountability and checking in. So for us, the computer is a resource but not the class by a long shot.

  3. We're doing it now. Love it. we've used virtual hs as a homeschool option, and now our church opened a private member-only (don't panic, we're not like that) school that uses virtual hs as the primary curriculum.

    We live in a small town- one major hs and suddenly in the last 5 years, its been bombarded with some violent kids relocating here from a nearby city. The "good kids" end up shuffled to the side, suddenly teachers were transferring out and the school had way too many sub's. All. The. Time.

    There were already 4 local private schools- 1 over an hour away in a nearby town, so too far. 2 were extremely "conservative" (no makeup, long skirts, no thanks, we're not a cult). The other was private and very very expensive, and geared towards exceptionally bright children who have a desire to conquer the world. So the church created another option. They made it membership only in order to somewhat control the growth for the first few years.

    Anyway, my daughter loves it. The program we use is very parent-friendly and she really is doing very well in it. Unlike regular school, she gets the added benefit of not being able to move on until she's mastered the concept. Most public schools allow differently. Unlike homeschooling (unless you live in an area with a strong active homeschool outreach group), she has the ability to interact with other kids doing the same work through the v-hs forum.

    I think it definitely works, for some kids, especially those that don't NEED social interaction in order to live. My daughter thrives on the peer competition, and lives for breaks to "talk" with her friends. As social as Gary seems to be, I doubt he'd be very happy with v-hs.


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