Oklahoma City has all kinds of families and that diversity shows up in all kinds of educational needs too.
Public schools, private schools, charter, homeschooling, online options: there are all kinds of choices that fit families' needs.
Personally, I'm a huge believer in public schools. However, there was a time when that just wasn't the best option for my oldest. We did a private a school for second through fifth grade and now he's in a public middle school. I'm glad he had the opportunity to attend something different for those years but also happy this middle school option has opened up other possibilities too.
What works is different for every family and that can change as your child does too. This year, I've enrolled one upcoming seventh grader, an incoming second grader, a pre-K student and a Bumblee Baby Class participate for 2019/2020. And I'm really crossing my fingers it all works as I've planned.
There's one hitch, though, on my second grader's enrollment: We're a transfer for our elementary school. I've gone through the requisite public school lotteries to try for Russell Doughtery and Clegern and filled out our transfer request paperwork and weighed our options for my second child. We'll see what happens because it's a gamble every single year whether or not we have to sell our house to attend a different school than our neighborhood elementary.
Another option, though, that's still a public school is K12.com. I had heard of it but didn't really understand how it worked.
Head of School for Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy and Insight School of Oklahoma Sheryl Tatum answered some questions for me so I could share her answers with other parents who might be wondering the same things I was as these envelopes arrive with transfers denied and applications waitlisted. Here are answers to seven questions about K12.com:
1.) Q. What is K12.com? I don't understand the public/online school offering. How does that work?
K12 is an educational service provider that provides a variety of educational products and services to schools so that they in turn can provide a high quality online educational experiences to their students. K12 powers two schools in Oklahoma: Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy, which offers grades kindergarten through twelfth, and Insight School of Oklahoma, an alternative education school serving grades 7-12 to provide choice to Oklahoma families. Both public charter schools, are accredited, tuition–free* public schools. However, instead of attending classes in a bricks and mortar building, students are at home (or anywhere there is an internet connection) attending school by joining classes in the virtual classroom or completing assignments in the online school. Teachers work with students in the virtual classroom at set times and students can use video, microphone and other interactive tools to interact with content, the teacher, and other students in the virtual classroom.
2.) Q. What fees are involved?
If students enroll in Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy or Insight School of Oklahoma, there are no fees*. They are tuition- free* public schools.
3.) Q. I don't feel qualified to teach my child. How is teacher access structured? Do I have to grade my child's work?
Every student is assigned an Oklahoma certified teacher. In grades K-5, students have one grade level certified teacher, but may also work with other teachers online to address learning needs. In grades 6-12, students are assigned an Oklahoma certified teacher for each subject. It is the teacher’s responsibility to provide instruction and issue class grades. The parent’s responsibility is to support the student as their Learning Coach. This includes ensuring the student has a plan for the week, attends online classes and submits assignments. Younger students will need more support with following directions, keeping track of materials, and entering information into the computer.
4.) Q. I work full-time. How does this set-up go for working parents?
Students will need support from an adult in the home. This can be a parent or another responsible adult. Every child is different and will need a different level of supervision. The online school does not replace the need for a parent or other adult to be in the home with the child.
5.) Q. What's the time commitment for students and for parents each week?
Students should anticipate spending about an hour per course per day. Students are enrolled in six courses each semester. Of course, all students work at a different pace, and one of the benefits of online schooling is that if a student finishes with one course early the student may move on to the next course or lesson right away and if a student needs more time they can take the necessary time instead of moving on before mastering the subject matter.
The time commitment for parents varies based on student needs and age. In general, younger elementary students need supervision with all lessons. Parents can expect to spend four to five hours a day in early elementary grades. As students grow, learn the system, and become more independent, less time is required of the parent. By the time students are in high school, most parents spend one to two hours a day making sure the student is on track and staying engaged.
6.) Q. How is assessment handled?
As Oklahoma public schools, Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy and Insight School students in grades 3-8 and grade 11 are required to participate in state testing in locations around the state.
In addition to state testing, teachers administer other types of assessments such as short quizzes during class, unit tests, reading fluency, benchmark tests, and finals. These are administered in person or online through the online classroom or computer.
7.) Q. My child is an English language learner in a bilingual household. What resources are available for him? Also, do you have a gifted/talented tier?
Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy and Insight School of Oklahoma have English learner programs. Incoming students are assessed to determine their mastery of the English language. Students that need assistance in becoming proficient in English receive an individualized language plan that outlines supports such as tutoring with the English learner teacher, accommodations to assist with coursework or supplemental online programs.
Both schools also identify and serve gifted and talented students. Students may qualify based on ability tests or through a multi-criteria rubric that also considers achievement test scores, leadership or other talents. The Gifted Resource Coordinator at each school works with students to develop plans to help them reach their potential.
*Families do not pay tuition for a student to attend a K12-powered online public school. Common household items and office supplies like printer ink and paper are not provided. Enrollment consultants can help address a family’s technological and computer questions and needs.
I'm glad to know there's an option around if any of my four children end up needing more flexibility or a change of scenery and approach. One size fits all definitely isn't something I feel works in education.
No matter what you choose for your child, I hope school is the best experience possible. Happy enrollment season!