The right online learning program can help students recover credits and expand learning.

Remediate or retain? Surprisingly, this is still a valid question for some principals and districts, despite the body of research against retention (1) and the fact that Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is used widely to gauge the success of any given district. Studies and opinions aside, for some students, the education process requires more than the allotted time frame of 180 days, or eight and a half months. Educators need other options.

Luckily for learners and learning leaders alike, available options are affordable and flexible enough to enable successful interventions for many kinds of learners and many different learning goals. One such option is online learning.

Online learning is uniquely poised to address a wide array of intervention strategies within the three main areas of focus for intervention programs: diagnostic practices, targeted interventions with adult advocates and academic support, and school-wide interventions that include personalizing the learning environment (2). It can be an effective, affordable means of getting lagging learners back on track with their classmates in the four- to six-week space of a summer program. There are six steps district learning leaders can follow to create a successful summer program using 21st century solutions to meet their challenges.

Setting the stage

Before addressing the six steps to summer school program implementation, a district must secure approval and funding, as well as buy-in from key players.

Securing approval and funding occurs concurrently. Summer program planners must secure state approval, if applicable. They must determine what the process is and what the state requirements are for online programs, ensure the state is willing to use the chosen program materials, and make sure to factor in time for what could be a lengthy process. The district must secure local approval, which often is a simple process that can occur at a board meeting.