Of the 15.4 million high school students who were expected to attend public schools this past fall, many are struggling to keep up and stay engaged. Some parents who decided to keep their students enrolled in brick-and-mortar schools last fall are now carefully considering a switch to a private online academy, either in time for the spring term, before fall 2021, or even over the summer. School district leaders and teachers are working tirelessly to provide accessible, equitable education to diverse groups of students and families. However, the online learning or hybrid learning models they’re providing are working well for some students, but not all. As an established online virtual school, we’re grateful for the heightened awareness of how much goes into providing a rigorous, flexible, and engaging online education to students all over the world. We’re getting lots of questions from parents who are trying to evaluate the switch to a virtual high school like ours in the near future, and we thought it might be helpful to provide a guide of important considerations. Accreditation. Enrolling your student in a virtual high school that is accredited is important for multiple reasons: Earning course credits from an accredited school ensures that your student can transfer to a different high school and have the credits they earned accepted by their new school. Accreditation is important for college admission. Colleges recognize high school diplomas earned from schools accredited by an organization like. If your student wants to take Advanced Placement® courses, they need to be approved by the College Board. Academic Support. Because your student will be doing schoolwork 100 percent remotely, it’s important to make sure there are robust resources to help them feel supported and connected: Is it easy to ask their teachers questions? Can they get extra tutoring right away when they need it? Will you, as a parent, have the tools you need to track your student’s progress? A parent portal is critical to seeing how your student is doing in real time. An engaging and rigorous curriculum. Not all online schools are created equal. It’s important to choose one with a curriculum that: Incorporates rich learning experiences to meet the individual needs of your student. Has content that deepens understanding in a subject while meeting state and national standards. Is engaging and motivating for your student. Is available to preview before you enroll your student. School performance. Quality virtual high schools will prepare your student for the next level of their academic career. Ask the school if: There is data on how their students perform on standardized tests like the SAT®, ACT®, and Advanced Placement® exams compared with national averages. Their students have been accepted to or attended prestigious colleges and universities. Flexibility. One of the distinct advantages of attending a private online high school is the freedom to use the curriculum when it works for your student and your family. Ask the school if: There is set schedule the student must follow. Your student will be required to log in and out at a certain time. There are penalties for late work. Support for Student Athletes. Making sure that NCAA-approved courses are available to student athletes with dreams of earning a college education while participating in the sport they love is critical. Find out if the virtual high school you’re considering offers support for student athletes to make sure they’re on track with NCAA Eligibility requirements. Tuition. Enrolling your child in an online private high school is an investment in their future, but the cost should be within reason. Additionally, it’s important to understand what tuition does or does not cover, including: Honors or Advanced Placement® courses. Course materials. Course extensions. Support from tutors. Proctored tests. We hope this guide is helpful to you as you evaluate virtual private schools for your high school student. We encourage you to reach out with any questions you have, and we’ll be happy to answer them.