The Secret of Individualized Education
As a virtual school principal, I’m already feeling excited for the upcoming 2011–12 school year. I’m probably most excited that my school, Wisconsin Connections Academy (WCA), is expanding to offer online high school in the fall, allowing us to meet the differentiated needs of all students from kindergarten to 12th grade! And being able to differentiate is important.
When you think of an ideal school for students, do you think of a school that can meet the individual needs of each student?
I believe that virtual schools like Connections Academy are uniquely positioned to offer an individualized approach for all students, whether they are academically ahead, in line with, or behind their age-appropriate peers. We call it Personalized Performance Learning® at our school, and for several years I have personally witnessed how it changes students’ lives—in their academic accomplishments as well as in their personal well-being. When school is tailored to a student’s particular interests, strengths, and challenges, each has a chance to really succeed in school—and the resulting pride and love of learning makes for some very happy kids!
Do you know a student who is struggling in school? In a virtual school like Connections Academy, these students are able to work in the curriculum a year below their age-appropriate grade level without changing their grade. Our dedicated teachers just take the time to discuss the student’s performance and skill deficiencies with our parents (Learning Coaches), and they develop communication schedules and personalized learning schedules to help monitor and adjust instruction as needed.
Other students who are ahead of their peers may need more challenge. Unlike some other schools, Connections Academy’s Gifted and Talented curriculum does not mean just giving more work on top of the general curriculum. Instead, advanced gifted and talented courses actually replace a number of courses in the general curriculum to meet the needs of the student. These challenging courses give students more opportunities to interact with specialized teachers, take part in special projects, and develop higher-level thinking skills.
Students working at their age-appropriate level also receive individualized, one-on-one attention from our teachers. Since teachers provide individual attention, they truly get to know each student and genuinely care about his or her success. This applies to students in high school as well as those in the earliest elementary school grades. In addition to individual teacher attention, our new high school program offers different study options to satisfy each student’s long-term goals—college, work, military service, whatever!
The ability to individualize the curriculum to meet the needs of all students is one thing that I really love about WCA and is why I believe it is the ideal school for many students. Connections Academy has thousands of students, and each one has a different reason why it’s the right choice for him or her. If you’re one of the many families who have found that the individualized approach of virtual school is your best educational choice, please share why it works well for you!
To consider WCA as an option for the upcoming school year, you must apply during Wisconsin’s open enrollment period in February. Learn more at www.ConnectionsAcademy.com/WCA.