Enrolling in a distance learning charter school is a respectable and free way to earn a high school diploma from home.
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 now offer distance learning charter school programs for elementary, middle, and high school students. Distance learning charter school programs are held over the internet or through mail. Oftentimes, a student is assigned a teacher who makes home visits on a weekly or monthly basis. Because charter schools are a public service, the state pays for all textbooks and course material and may even cover the cost of computer hardware, software, and a home internet connection.
Interested in enrolling your child in a distance learning charter school? Here's what you need to do to find out what schools exist in your community:
Step 1 - Find out if your state allows charter schools. Most, but not all, states allow charter schools to operate. In order to find out if your state allows charter schools, check out state-by-state information at U.S. Charter Schools (off-site link). 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. The U.S. Charter Schools main page will bring you to a state information page. Each state has different resource links. 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 "online," "distance learning," "virtual," or "correspondence" are good bets. Some states even have a separate list for distance learning charter programs. If you can't easily identify the distance learning schools, contact your department of education.
Step 4 - Identify the schools you qualify for. Some states require that distance learning students live in the same district or area that their charter school operates in. Often, 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 - Evaluate the schools you qualify for. Not all charter schools are equal. Try to find a program that is well established, will meet your needs, and has a high student satisfaction rate. Talking with parents, teachers, and students before enrolling can help put your mind at ease.