|Khan Academy Virtual School|
State-sponsored virtual schools offer the standard state curriculum, and they follow a standard time table. Kids are accountable, tested, and must pass state standard requirements to graduate from one of these schools. See the listing of many of these schools at the end of this article.
For kids and even college students attending brick-and-mortar schools, there's another type of free virtual school - the Khan Academy. Khan Academy is the brainchild of Salman Khan, who envisions this ongoing project as the first worldwide free virtual school for K-12. His academy of video learning online caught the eye of Bill Gates, and it is a winner of a Tech Award 2009 Microsoft Education Award.
Khan Academy contains a growing video library of more than 1,700 instructional videos in many subjects, starting with basic arithmetic through calculus, economics, science and a smattering of history. Their math videos for kids and teens are the most extensive of their offerings. If you register (for free), you can even begin your own self-paced study curriculum using the videos as a guide to solve exercise problems.
I like Khan Academy because it can be used to fill the knowledge gaps for K-12 students. If a student missed school the day they studied Shifting Quadratic Graphs in Algebra II, the academy's math video lesson can bring her up to speed. Or students can review an educational video when they don't understand a concept presented by the teacher. College students are often in the same boat. They missed or forgot a concept from high school that they now need to know for a college class. Khan's videos can help them tremendously too.
While Khan Academy is useful to millions of students worldwide, millions of families in the U.S. are looking for other options when their local schools don't cut it. Free public (or even private fee-based) virtual K-12 schools give students another route to their high school diplomas. Check with your state or local school board if traditional schooling is not meeting your child's needs. Many offer virtual classes within the school to provide more challenging coursework for advanced or gifted students. Or families may opt for a complete virtual school curriculum from home.
States and communities are adding to their offerings every years. Below is a partial listing with links to public virtual schools for many states. The majority of states operate their virtual schools via contracts with the two largest commercial (private) virtual school providers in the country, K12.com and Connections Academy. If you know of one that isn't listed, add a comment with the address and I'll post it to this list.
- Alaska Virtual Academy (for grades K-8)
- Arkansas Virtual Academy (for grades K-8)
- Arizona Virtual Academy
- California Online K-12 Schools
- Colorado Virtual Academy (K-12); Colorado Connections Academy (K-12)
- Florida - FL Virtual School
- Georgia GA Virtual School (high school) & Georgia Cyber Academy (for grades K-9)
- Hawaii Technology Academy (grades K-12) & Kihei Charter School (grades 6-12)
- Idaho Virtual Academy; INSPIRE Idaho Connections Academy
- Indiana Virtual Pilot School (grades 1-6) & Hoosier Academies (grades K-12); Indiana Connections Academy (grades 1-8)
- Illinois Virtual School (individual courses for grades 5-12; school or homeschool parent pays cost of course)
- Iowa Learning Online & Iowa Online AP Academy (high school & AP)
- Kansas Virtual Schools & Learning Centers; Kansas Connections Academy (K-12)
- Louisiana Virtual School (high school)
- Maine Virtual Project-Based School Program (for at-risk students and droupouts, middle & high school)
- Massachusetts Virtual Academy (for grades K-8)
- Michigan Virtual Charter Academy (for grades K-12); Michigan Virtual School Program (high school); Michigan Connections Academy (K-12)
- Minnesota Virtual High School (for grades 6-12) & Minnesota Virtual Academy (grades K-12); MTS Minnesota Connections Academy (K-12)
- Mississippi Virtual Public School (grades 9-12)
- Nevada Virtual Academy (K-12); Nevada Connections Academy (K-12)
- Ohio Virtual Academy & Ohio Connections Academy
- Oklahoma Virtual Academy (for grades 1-10)
- Oregon Virtual Academy (for grades K-8); Oregon Connections Academy (K-12)
- Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School (grades K-12); Agora Cyber Charter School (grades K-12); & Commonwealth Connections Academy (K-12)
- South Carolina Virtual Charter School; South Carolina Connections Academy (K-12)
- Texas Virtual School (for high school) & Texas Virtual Academy at Southwest (for grades 3-10); Texas Connections Academy @ Houston (grades 3-10)
- Utah Virtual Academy
- Virtual Virginia (for grades 6-12; free to public Early College Scholar public school students) & Virginia Virtual Academy (for grades K-8)
- Washington Virtual Academies
- Wyoming Jackson Hole Connections Academy (K-12)
- Washington, D.C., Community Academy Public Charter School - CAPCS Online (for grades K-8)
- Wisconsin Virtual Academy; Wisconsin Connections Academy
- Wyoming Virtual Academies