In today’s digital world, online education for grade school, middle school and high school students is growing in popularity. Proponents of this learning model praise online education for its convenience, cost and time flexibility. But what are the potential downsides of online learning?
Education experts and administrators warn that some online schools simply aren’t legitimate. These schools don’t have proper licensing and/or accreditation, which means that any degrees awarded won’t be recognized in real-world situations.
According to Sonia Woodbury, who holds a Ph.D. in education from the University of Utah, and founded City Academy Charter School (she’s currently the school’s executive director), “Unfortunately, many parents and students have been victimized by educational websites that aren’t legitimate institutions. The goal of these websites is not to provide a worthwhile education—the goal is to make money off of unsuspecting people.”
Woodbury adds that while legitimate educational websites can be more flexible in terms of scheduling, these sites often try to replace teacher-to-student and student-to-student interaction with more reading assignments.
“It’s my personal and professional opinion that human interaction and an engaging exchange of viewpoints is an essential part of education, especially among pre-college students. A classroom environment does much more than teach specific subject matter. It helps students develop key social skills and lifelong learning habits that will serve them in all aspects of life,” Woodbury said.
Woodbury noted that there has been some initial evidence to suggest that students engaged in online education in Utah have received lower SAGE test scores than those who attend brick-and-mortar schools.
SAGE (Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence) is Utah’s computer adaptive assessment system aligned to the state’s core standards. This comprehensive testing system includes testing in English language arts, math and science.
City Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school for grades 7 through 12. The school offers small class sizes (a maximum of 25 students per class),
a dedicated faculty and staff, and programs designed to help students flourish in their education while becoming involved citizens of our communities. Every graduate of City Academy can receive a $1,000 scholarship to attend a post-high school educational institution. In 2015, City Academy students received over $1 million in scholarships.