8:29 AM EDT, April 13, 2012
More and more Indiana students are trading their text books for computers full time.
This is the first school year in which virtual charter schools could offer K-12 curriculum and enrollment has jumped. Now, more families than ever are looking into the option for 2012-2013.
Dimitri and Wyatt Taylor were earning A's and B's on tests while at public school two years ago, but their mother was frustrated that their overall grades were always lagging behind.
"They were making all F's in their in class work,” said Stacy Taylor. “So my wonderful twins were overly social."
Indiana Connections Academy offered an alternative. The virtual charter school offered a chance for the boys to learn on their own terms with the help of online lessons and live, interactive sessions with teachers via the internet.
Two years ago, Indiana launched the virtual schools as pilot programs and capped enrollment for the schools at around 200 students. Charter school legislation allowed the schools to open enrollment even more this year and now Hoosier Academies Virtual Charter School has an enrollment of 1,853 students and Indiana Connections Academy has an enrollment of 1,675.
"This coming year our goal is 2,500," said Melissa Brown, principal of Indiana Connections Academy.
Students enrolled in the virtual schools are required to check in for class and spend a certain number of hours learning each week. They are also required to fulfill physical activity and arts requirements set by the state, as well as take part in ISTEP testing.
Principal Brown said the virtual schools often require students who are independent along with parents who are willing to act as learning coaches.
"We're not for everyone,” said Brown. “You know, many students do well, they thrive in the brick and motor setting. Lots of kids thrive in this environment. We just want families to decide what's best for their child."
The Taylors said they have found what is best for them.
"Sometimes it's better to be at home because there's not as many distractions," Dimitri Taylor said.
In 2011-2012 Wayne Township also added its own virtual school, Achieve Virtual Education Academy, which has an enrollment of 196 in its first year.
For more information on the virtual schools, visit ConnectionsAcademy.com or K12.com.