Online Learning with EdOptions Academy: Providing Access for All Learners in Onslow County Schools

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 -- Scott Lobdell

For a growing number of students, the traditional classroom environment simply isn’t the right fit. Maybe they have family responsibilities or work obligations that require great flexibility, maybe the classroom presents too many distractions for effective learning, or maybe they are looking for course options that aren’t available in-person. Whatever the reasons, virtual school options are growing in popularity—and the right partnership can go a long ways towards helping your school or district meet student needs and retain enrollment.

Edmentum’s EdOptions Academy is one such virtual education partner. Powered by Plato Courseware and taught by experienced instructors licensed in your state, EdOptions Academy’s fully-accredited virtual school solution allows schools and districts to enhance, expand, and extend their curriculum offerings.

So, just who are EdOptions Academy partner districts, and how are these partnerships helping to drive successful student outcomes? Here, we would like to introduce one of our customers, Onslow County Schools (OCS) in North Carolina, and share their experience starting a virtual learning school with EdOptions Academy.

Onslow County Schools are located adjacent to Camp LeJeune, one of the U.S.’s largest military bases, and the district serves many students from the base. Due to the demands of military life, these students are a very transient population; in fact, 48% of OCS students transfer either within or out of the district each year. Finding innovative ways to gives these students more consistency is an ongoing challenge for the district.

Transcript matching issues are also a challenge created by this large transient population, since many come in from or leave for districts that use a significantly different schedule and credit system than OCS. The district is always trying to improve the transfer process so that students are placed at the right level at the right time and don’t lose any credit they’re deserving of to make sure they stay on track for graduation.

Finally, many of OCS’ military families choose to homeschool as their own solution for providing their children with greater consistency. There are over 1,100 homeschool sites registered with OCS serving upwards of 2,100 students. The district wanted a means to give these learners access to public education, while allowing them to retain the flexibility and parental supervision that is a key appeal of homeschooling.

In considering all of these challenges of a highly-transient student population, OCS had come to the conclusion that a fully-virtual school option would benefit the district and increase student achievement by providing much needed flexibility and consistency in curriculum. Their overarching goal was to offer all learners access to high-quality education tailored to their needs. Edmentum’s EdOptions Academy, with our extensive course catalog, built-to-state-standards curriculum, highly qualified instructors, and commitment to ongoing training, was the solution they turned to.

“We wanted a user-friendly and rigorous program, and when we took a look at the options available, we decided to partner with EOA, hands down. The rigor was the biggest draw for us.”

                -Vikki Childress, Onslow Virtual School Principal

So, as Onslow County Schools comes to the end of their first year with EdOptions Academy, how is the partnership making a difference? OCS students are taking advantage of new course options that the district cannot offer on its own, including Photography and Forensic Science. Transfer students are also benefiting from the district’s newfound flexibility in handling half credits—one military student who recently transferred in to the district with a half credit of Algebra was able to enroll in the second semester of the course through EdOptions Academy in order to avoid repeating material or falling behind on the path to graduation.

And, it may be OCS students facing unique circumstances that have benefitted the most from access to EdOptions Academy. One student who deals with a rare sleeping disorder is now able to complete school work on his terms, working around his health challenges. Another student who has been working as an actress, and is regularly out of state filming for several weeks at a time, has been able to stay caught up by completing classwork virtually. These are students for whom the traditional classroom simply isn’t a viable option, but OCS’ partnership with EdOptions Academy has provided the flexibility they need to experience academic success.

At Edmentum, we’re proud to offer high-quality online learning to meet the needs of all types of learners through our fully-accredited EdOptions Academy virtual school. But, the program itself is only part of the equation. The success Onslow County Schools have experienced is built upon a true partnership between OCS educators and Edmentum consultants. Next week, we’ll be taking a closer look at what that collaborative relationship looks like—be sure to check back!

Interested in learning more about how Edmentum’s EdOptions Academy can help your school or district expand offerings and provide the flexibility needed to reach all students? Check out this brochure to learn how EdOptions Academy can help you build new pathways to graduation!

Bright ideas for tech-savvy educators, right to your inbox