What’s the difference between an online public school and homeschool?

Many people assume that because online learning is done at home, it is homeschooling. But it’s not.  Online public schools are provided by school districts, charter schools, and state education agencies that are part of our public education system. They give every child in a state access to a high quality public school in a home-based learning environment.

Here are six important differences between an online public school and homeschooling.

Teachers

Online Public School:  Your student has a state-certified teacher assigned during the school year.

Online public schools use state-certified, highly qualified teachers that partner with the parent to meet the needs of the student.  These experienced educators not only provide instruction, but are also there for guidance and support. Support and instruction is provided through web-based classrooms, one-on-one tutoring, by phone, online web meetings and in certain situations, face-to-face sessions.

Online schools also have dedicated general education teachers, certified special education teachers, subject matter experts, school counselors and advisors, and paraprofessionals.

Online school teachers are able to work hand in hand with parents to design learning plans that meet each student’s unique needs.

Homeschool:  The parent acts as administrator, teacher, guidance counselor, subject matter expert, advisor and any other educational role necessary.

Curriculum

Online Public School:  Incorporates an approved (secular) curriculum that is set and approved by the state and school.  Daily lesson plans are provided for the learning coach along with enrichment activity ideas.

K12 offers a full catalogue of courses:  core courses, world languages, specialized courses (AP, honors, credit recovery), and high school electives.  The curriculum exceeds national and state educational standards.

Homeschool: The parent must research and find appropriate and relevant curriculum to create the lesson plans that meet the national and state standards.

Testing

Online Public School:  Require state assessment tests

Online public school students are required to take the same assessment tests as their brick and mortar counterparts.  During state testing periods, locations are provided where students are required to take their tests.

Homeschool: The parent must research state and national testing standards and ensure that their child/student complies.

Academic and Attendance Policies

Online Public School: Follows state attendance and academic policies

Because you are attending an online public school, the educational accountability is already in place, including attendance and academic policies.  Attendance, grades, testing and other requirements are accounted for within the online learning platform from day one.

Homeschool: The parent must research the local attendance and academic policies and are solely responsible for their reporting requirements.

Accountability

Online Public School: Undergo financial audits and have fiscal accountability

Online schools must meet same state requirements, oversight and accountability standards as traditional public schools.

Homeschool: The parent is on point to make sure they know and understand any state and federal requirements that apply to their student.

Socialization

Online Public School: Offers many socialization opportunities for students

There are many ways for parents and children to connect with others and have funonline and offline. Online schools regularly schedule local and national events, clubs, and activities designed to support and encourage socialization among the community.

Homeschool:  Parents and/or families must find, research, incorporate and in some cases, create socialization opportunities on their own.

One size does not fit all when it comes to educating our children. We all come from different backgrounds and have different reasons for exploring educational options. The goal is to give students access to all possible educational options and give parents the freedom to choose the one that fits their child’s needs best.

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About The Author

Director of Social Media & Online Community Engagement
Google+

Since graduating college, I have been involved in the Internet and/or Social Media. I guess you can call me an early adopter. I share information and connect with families and help create and participate in an online community focused on educating our future generations. My role combines my passion for social media, education and helping parents and families. Being a parent myself, I get to be a part of and witness first-hand how our current generation is growing up in a world where social media and technology is the norm.