Americans Favor Online School Choices for Students
If you are considering virtual school for your family, you may not realize it, but you are part of a widespread trend of Americans who view this way of learning as a viable and beneficial choice. A recent survey* showed that the majority of Americans, 76 percent, feel that K–12 public school students should be able to choose tuition-free online learning options to meet a student’s learning needs.
These positive attitudes were revealed by a new independent survey of U.S. households sponsored by Connections Education, parent company of Connections Academy®—supported online public schools and International Connections Academy online private school. Those with children in the household were even more likely to support online learning options (86 percent), compared to those with no children in the household (71 percent).
For Steven Guttentag, president and cofounder of Connections Education, these results rang true, echoing the familiar conversations parents of Connections Academy students have with school staff each year. “As the national conversation about online schools continues to be driven by policy-makers and industry groups, it is important to take a step back and listen to what the American public, particularly parents of school-age children, want for their children’s education,” he said.
Americans are optimistic that online options could help personalize education, a view that is not widespread in the traditional education system according to the survey results. Educators agree that the more personalized a student’s education is to his or her individual needs, the better that student will do in school.
In an annual parent satisfaction survey, many families said they chose Connections Academy—supported schools because they can be involved with their student’s education. Parents collaborate with teachers to personalize each child’s learning with the right amount of support or challenge. In addition, families cited the more flexible schedule of online school as a reason for their choice, because this enables children to work at the pace that works best for them and to incorporate sports, volunteering, the arts, and other activities into their lives more comfortably.
When asked how they would grade today’s schools (all schools) on delivering personalized education to each student, few parents (4 percent) give school personalization an A grade (19 percent give it a B grade). Yet, 67 percent of survey respondents agree that online schools have the potential to better personalize education to each student based on his or her needs, compared to traditional schools.
People who knew about online learning and online schools tended to view public online schools more favorably, with 57 percent giving the online school an A or B, and 87 percent giving it a C or higher.
Those who have a child or know of a child enrolled in online public school are more likely to rate the quality of the education at online public schools with the highest mark of “excellent,” placing these “excellent” quality ratings on a par with or above traditional public schools and public charter schools. Excellent ratings were highest for private and homeschool options.
“While it’s not surprising that those familiar with online school more clearly recognize the value, these findings do indicate an ongoing need for dialogue and continuing education around what online school is, how curriculum is delivered, and what an online learning environment is like,” continued Guttentag.
More and more, virtual schooling is gaining acceptance. It’s a move worth considering—and one that can empower families to give their children the custom education they deserve.
If you’re part of a virtual school family, tell us about your personalized learning experiences and how it supports your child’s education. Share your best ideas in the comments.
* Survey Methodology
The results are based on a nationwide online survey of U.S. adults that was fielded by ORC International in April 2016. In total, 1,020 respondents took part in the survey, with an associated margin of error of +/− 3.07 percent. All results were analyzed using key demographic and attitudinal breaks, including age/generation of children in the household, gender, level of education, income, and exposure to online learning. The data presented in this report have been statistically balanced to ensure that the results are in line with overall U.S. population figures for age, gender, and ethnicity.