Giving Students Hope

Monday, October 28, 2013 -- Scott Lobdell

The Story of Beacon High Alternative School in Collier County, Florida

Beacon High School in Naples, Florida, is an alternative school that has found a formula for success for its students. Students at this school have found new hope through online education and the way that educators implemented this online opportunity--looking forward instead of staying with the status quo. Consequently, the success of this alternative school caused all the high schools in the school district to follow their lead.

Beacon High School has a great mission for students who are at risk. Their mission statement, as found on their website, is to enable high-school-age students to earn credits, recover credits, or make up credits in order to graduate from high school with a regular diploma or GED® test credentials. The school has excelled, and it understands what a diploma can do even for a student who otherwise might have dropped out. The school knows that a diploma opens doors that would have been closed without it. The school takes in 11th and 12th graders and has about 380 total students on average.  To enter the Beacon program, these students have to be behind in credits and incapable of catching up at their regular schools. Beacon has been a great opportunity for students not only because of online curriculum but also because of educators who care and have vision.

Collier County was one of the first school districts in Florida to sign with Educational Options (the forerunner of EdOptions Academy) back in 2000 to use its online courses throughout its school district. Beacon High used this online curriculum as credit recovery for part of its program to help students catch up. This program was successful for a long time, and in the 2009–10 school year, another program changed everything. Collier County was the first school district to use EdOptions Academy’s Safety Net Program. This program was designed to help students earn their state’s diploma by taking courses through an accredited online school and meeting the graduation requirements of EdOptions Academy. The program allows for students who fall short of the state graduation requirements to earn their diploma through EdOptions Academy, an accredited [diploma-granting] private school.  

Beacon High School uses a formula that works for multiple students and gives many hope of a real diploma. The school has used online credit recovery for students so that students can get back on track to graduate on time. Now students have the opportunity to take EdOptions Academy courses to place them on track for graduation, whether it is a state diploma or the EdOptions Academy diploma. The result: Beacon High School has over 200 students in the last four years earning diplomas who would not have if not for this program. The computer lab at Beacon has copies of all the diplomas that students have earned as an incentive for current students. The program has been so successful that students who had dropped out of school have chosen to drop back into school knowing now that there is a chance to graduate. The proof of the success is that all high schools in the school district now have similar programs. When was the last time you saw an alternative school lead the school district?

Collier County School District should also be credited for its success. School district personnel saw the benefit of a full spectrum of online educational services. Schools that use their resources to offer an online credit recovery program with their teachers and matching them with a great program like EdOptions Academy give hope to all students who have tripped along the way in their trek towards graduation. In the past, many of these students would never have graduated, but because of the flexibility of online education, students now have a chance. Programs like this make sense because they open numerous doors for students. As a result, many of these students graduating from Beacon ended up at Edison State College in Naples, Florida – a school they would not have gone to without their diplomas in hand.