Frequently Asked Questions
What is a digital public school?
School districts across the state employ Washington certified teachers to deliver basic education in state-approved part-time and full-time online programs. Digital public schools can offer:
* broad curriculum allowing for different learning styles
* flexibility in scheduling the pace that individual students learn
* performance-based assessments measuring progress as students advance
Who are the students?
Digital pubic schools are a good fit for thousands of elementary, middle and high school students with a diversity of educational needs: medical, special education, credit recovery plus students desiring a more individualized education; and even a few homeless students. The students can be assessed individually in each subject before being assigned a matching curriculum. Assessments can be embedded in the lessons and students take the state mandated assessments, as well.
How are digital public schools accountable to the Legislature?
In Washington state there is a strong linkage between funding and accountability for individual students, teachers, schools and school districts in digital public schools. Districts don’t receive funding for their online students unless their digital school is evaluated and approved by the Digital Learning Department that was established by the Legislature solely to govern digital programs. Funding for individual students is cut back or eliminated if a student doesn’t demonstrate adequate progress monthly.
Clearly NOT “homeschooling”!
Certified teachers deliver individualized state-approved curriculum and student-teacher contact with support from the student’s learning coach. “Homeschoolers” don’t use approved curriculum or certified teachers. Teachers in digital public schools can monitor their student’s progress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Since these schools were first authorized by the Legislature, state law has required personal student-teacher contact. Each of the digital public school students also take the same state and federal tests as their classroom peers. So, their progress is measured the same way other public school students is.
What about funding for these students?
Funding for digital public schools was cut to 15% of the state Full Time Equivalent funding level, which is the amount it costs to provide a public school student with a Washington-certified teacher, counselor, administrative staff, and curriculum. This was the first time in the history of Washington State that one group of students received less than the full FTE to cover these costs. These cuts are expected to expire on July 1, 2013, and it’s imperative that full funding be restored if we’re going to maintain high-quality digital public schools.
All students, including our sons and daughters, deserve the same funding for their basic education as other students in traditional settings. While a student’s FTE pays for their teachers, counselors, staff and curriculum in both traditional and digital public schools, students in digital public schools don’t use the same buildings and buses as students in traditional settings. So, taxpayers and the state can save on those costs. Yet without every student’s FTE being restored on July 1, 2013, we fear that our current innovative, world-class individualized educational opportunities in our state-approved digital public schools will end.
More info is available at http://digitallearning.k12.wa.us/