NEWSLETTER: Student Needs Fueling Growth in Washington’s Full-time Online Public Schools

Survey shows many parents need alternative to traditional classroom

Olympia, WA – The number of Washington children attending full-time online public schools has grown steadily over the last four years as a new survey reveals many parents need an alternative to the traditional classroom environment.  According to over 600 parents with children in WA digital public schools who responded to an online survey, there are a wide variety of reasons why families need this public school option.  The survey respondents represent families with students in all grades, from kindergarten through 12th grade. 

  • 43% of parents report that bullying or other inappropriate behavior in the classroom was inhibiting learning
  • 30% report that their children were falling behind academically
  • 28% have advanced learners who were not challenged in the classroom
  • 22% needed flexibility to give more time for an extracurricular activity
  • 19% have children with health issues that ruled out a traditional classroom
  • 15% have children with behavioral issues that required an individualized learning environment

"These are the kids who used to ‘fall through the cracks,’” said Kimberly Platt, President of the Digital Public Schools Alliance - WA.  “Thanks to technology and public policies that give families more education options, every Washington child now has a chance to reach their full potential.”

According to information from Washington’s Digital Learning Department in the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the number of Washington children taking classes online grew to 17,178 in the ’10-’11 school year, a 9 percent increase since ’08-’09.  These are the most recent statistics available.

Digital public school instruction is provided by Washington-certified teachers, but technology allows the schools to teach kids anywhere – from Seattle to Okanogan County.

“Our survey finds that kids are finding the environment they need to learn and, as importantly, the extra-curricular activities they need to socialize with peers,” said Platt.

The survey finds that 84% of virtual public school families have their students in some form of extra-curricular or socialization activity outside the home.  Some activities include: 

  • 48% of families report their students are involved in youth organizations such as scouts, YMCA, clubs, or church activities
  • 39% are involved in sports
  • 32% are involved in volunteer service
  • 28% play a musical instrument
  • 21% are in theatre, dance, or the visual arts


“Washington State has pioneered online learning,” said Platt.   “Eight years later, students with individual needs – medical, academic, scheduling and more- are getting education tailored to their individual needs. They are catching up, moving ahead or digging deeper into subjects that interest them. This educational choice has created a new future for thousands of students, putting them on an education trajectory many never dreamed possible."

For stories (with photos) about why our families made the choice of full-time digital public school click here


 About the Digital Public Schools Alliance - WA

The Digital Public Schools Alliance - WA is a non-profit organization made up of volunteers whose primary objective is protecting access to a quality, virtual public education in our state. We seek to protect this right by educating Washington policymakers and the general public about the benefits of virtual public schools and the positive contributions they make to our children's education.