More students than ever before are attending blended and online schools. While the reasons students select the schools vary, it is clear that these schools are providing a useful option for families across the country. Blended and online schools provide the flexibility as to where, when, and how students learn. The Foundation for Blended and Online Learning (FBOL) set out to discover why students and families are choosing these innovative school models and how they are finding out about the options available.
In the paper Why Do Students Choose Blended and Online Schools?, developed with the Evergreen Education Group, FBOL explores the common motivations behind the choice to enroll in a school or program other than a traditional brick-and-mortar setting. Through a series of stakeholder interviews, school snapshots, and data drawn from a variety of sources, the paper offers a look at the academic, social and sometimes difficult personal reasons students throughout the country turn to alternatives to their local public school.
Amy Valentine, FBOL’s Executive Director, said, “Determining the role of blended and online programs in the wider school landscape begins with an understanding of what makes them an attractive option to our students. If we are able to identify why a student’s needs are not being met by traditional schools, we can design personalized learning environments for those who have been historically underserved by schools. With all of the potential for personalization in education, we rarely hear from students regarding their experience. This report goes directly to the source to provide insight into the reasons they choose to move into blended and online programs.”
According to the report, “a reasonable estimate for students attending online and blended schools is between one and two million students, or roughly 2–4% of all students in the country. More than half of all states allow online schools that draw students across district boundaries; perhaps 350,000 students attend these schools.”
The report cites a range of reasons that students are selecting online and blended schools and programs. According to the report some of the main reasons include academic, health and safety concerns, extracurricular interests, jobs and travel.
In addition to student’s personal reasons for selecting blended and online schools, the paper also discusses how school services are a key determining factor. Some of these factors include:
- Teachers and other adults’ role in instruction, counseling and support
- Blended and online schools’ creative use of time
- Students’ ability to enroll temporarily or for the long-term
The report also discusses how families and students are learning about blended and online school options.
Whether the reason is academic, personal or health-based, or stems from a unique life circumstance, more students than ever before are turning to blended and online programs to meet their educational needs. To provide their diverse student populations with an array of learning environments, schools and districts must be aware of why students leave their traditional schools and how to fill the gaps in their portfolios.
For more information, including case studies and student quotes, download the paper now.
For more, see:
- Closing the Last Mile of Career Opportunity in Rural America
- Braving the New World of Online Learning: What Students Need to Succeed
- Blended Learning Engagement: Are the Students Paying Attention?
This blog was drafted based on a summary brief by Amy Valentine. Getting Smart team member Caroline Vander Ark is a director of the Foundation for Blended and Online Learning.
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