Students are flocking to online charter schools. These schools are skyrocketing in popularity in recent years, and they’re now poised to pass traditional public schools.
Wondering what’s behind this unprecedented shift and what it means for your child’s education? Read on for more on this rapid rise and the reasons students are flocking to online charter schools.
Learning Is Rapidly Shifting Toward Online Charter Schools
Online charter schools are moving to overtake traditional public schools at a jaw-dropping clip. Why? It appears to be the convergence of two trends: a jump in online learning and growth in charter schools.
First, it is worth recognizing that the pandemic has pushed students into online learning. As of August 2020, nearly 93 percent of parents with school-aged kids had experienced some form of distance learning during the pandemic. Still, trends from before the pandemic suggest COVID-19 didn’t invent the demand for online education. It just pushed the pedal to the floor.
Even prior to the pandemic, the online education market was expected to be worth $350 billion by 2025. Plus, public schools were already adopting online coursework readily with some schools already offering some type of online coursework in 2018.
All the while, charter schools have steadily been rising in popularity throughout the last decade. In fact, just between 2000 and 2017, public charter school enrollment rose by 2.7 million students.
Those two important components, online learning and the charter school structure, are snowballing into a powerful force. And it’s a force that’s not just overtaking traditional public school but also positioned to surge far ahead of these fading institutions.
Why Are Online Charter Schools Passing Traditional Public Schools?
Why are online charter schools racing past traditional public schools? There are several gaps in the structure of traditional public schools that online charter schools fill.
1. Tough Traditional Conditions and Poor Brick-and-Mortar Performance
As education leaders, we all want to see education institutions of all types succeed. Unfortunately, the traditional public school in the U.S. has long been outdated, and it has caused learning outcomes to spiral. In fact, according to the most recent National Report Card, less than one-quarter of high school seniors are proficient in math or science.
Sadly, many traditional public schools are simply set up to fail. That’s because In many cases, traditional schools are overcrowded and progress is sluggish. As schools get even more packed, instructors are spread ultra-thin and expected to deliver learning outcomes they don’t have time to spark. In turn, students fall through the cracks and miss out on the individual learning they need to grow.
2. Outdated Bell Schedules
There may have been a time when learning within a rigid bell schedule was the best option, but those days are long gone. More than ever, students are on the move, online, and immersed in mobile technology. In fact, nearly 40 percent of parents now say their child has a smartphone. With the chance to learn from anywhere at any time at their fingertips, it doesn’t make sense for today’s students to have to learn within a rigid schedule.
Even more alarmingly, rushing to get ready for early school or racing home to prepare for after class events can damage a student’s health and well-being.
Although bell schedules affect students of all types, there are a few groups of students that are especially constrained by the conditions of traditional public schools:
- Student athletes: Student athletes’ schedules are jam-packed with events, practices, training, and other responsibilities. Without the freedom to choose their own learning schedule, they end up facing even more pressure.
- Performing artists: Success as a performing artist takes in-depth practice and strict travel schedules. Without the ability to learn on the go, they miss out on reaching their full potential inside and outside the classroom.
- Homeschoolers: Homeschoolers are comfortable learning in a flexible environment. Traditional schools force these learners into an environment that’s unfamiliar, strict, and chaotic.
3. Traditional Public Schools Not Built for Change
Unlike charter schools, traditional public schools have to answer to district school boards. Those boards can be massive, and that can make change difficult. Because these schools have to navigate through a maze of red tape, it can be hard to make even small changes, let alone larger instructional progress.
What Will Learning Look Like in the Future?
In the future, as online charter schools continue to gain momentum, you can expect a few trends to grow. Here’s the direction education is heading in the future:
1. More Personalized Programs
Technology is more advanced than ever, and it is opening a whole new world of learning capabilities. For instance, some online charter schools now use self-paced programs that adjust directly to the learner’s needs. That means students get the attention they need without placing unfair expectations on instructors.
2. More Analytics
As technology improves, schools are able to use analytics to pinpoint academic barriers and measure performance. In fact, advanced schools feature technology with analytics built into their online learning systems. That makes it easier for instructors to see what it takes for students to grow so they can deliver education that propels students toward their goals.
3. More Mobility
As students, parents, and education leaders get more and more comfortable online, expect mobile learning to grow. Already, 96 percent of Americans own a mobile device. That trend is likely to spark even more opportunities to learn on the go in the future.
4. More Flexibility
As students and parents continue to live their lives online, there’s little chance they’ll choose to box themselves into a rigid brick-and-mortar classroom. That’s why it is likely that schools will become more flexible and more targeted in the future.
Are All Online Charter Schools Set Up for Success?
Online charter schools are undoubtedly poised to overtake traditional public schools and thrive in the future. However, that doesn’t mean every online charter will deliver the learning outcomes your student needs.
Especially with so many schools of all kinds jumping into online education underprepared, it is important for parents to be choosy when selecting the right online charter for their kids. Here are a few quick tips for pinpointing an online charter with good learning results:
- Classes should be small.
- Classes need to be led by distance learning experts.
- The school should include self-paced learning.
- The school needs to offer socialization programs.
- The school should feature a trusted curriculum.
Enroll in an Online Charter You Can Trust
Looking for an online charter school you can trust to deliver positive education outcomes for your learner? Here are some reasons you can trust Method Schools:
- Method coursework is approved by the NCAA and UC A-G system.
- We’re accredited by the Western Association of Colleges and Schools (WASC).
- We’re staffed with distance learning experts.
- Our coursework includes self-paced learning and flexible schedules.
- We use targeted direct instruction to reach students on a deeper level.
Ready to join the Method Schools learning community? Contact an enrollment specialist today.