Six steps for a successful online summer school

When determining the funding source or sources for the program, a district must be certain the funding source is compatible with its program model. For instance, planners must ensure online virtual summer school is an acceptable item if they plan to use a blended funding model.

Once approval and funding have been secured, district-wide principal and guidance counselor support paves the way to an easy implementation.

Putting the six steps into play

Step one: Determine program scope

District and school leaders can choose K–12 digital curricula in all content areas and many electives, but educators who are new to online programs should focus on their most pressing needs and grow from there. Language arts and math for the middle grades are must-haves; program leaders can expect 50 percent of their district enrollments in this area. Students also may need science and social studies coursework.

High school must-haves will vary among states and districts. Because it meets our requirements for academic rigor, flexibility, student engagement, management, and professional learning so well, Hamilton County Virtual School (HCVS), has implemented CompassLearning Odyssey. The most popular offerings at HCVS have been:

  • Odyssey English, grades 9–11
  • Odyssey Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II
  • Odyssey Government
  • Odyssey Physical Science

In general, a virtual summer school program requires only one teacher per content area across all middle grade levels. By assigning one teacher to multiple levels, an online summer school can meet students’ diverse needs while maintaining a limited program scope. Because the program — not the teachers — generates content, teachers facilitate rather than deliver the online learning. Although a single well-organized and tech-savvy teacher can facilitate more than one course, districts new to online summer programs should employ enough instructors for adequate course coverage. This ensures the online summer school experience is not frustrating, confusing, or overwhelming for teachers involved. Additionally, a district can avoid significantly expanding staffing and training needs using such a program.

Step two: Choose courseware

Many local education agencies require districts to issue a request for proposal (RFP) for any kind of courseware subscription or purchase. Because their choice will be locked in once they submit the proposal, district leaders must devote careful consideration to the learning experience they wish to provide. The proposed choice should offer the flexibility, content, and interface required for a sustainable credit-recovery summer school program.

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