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EducationVirtual Online Schools FAQ    December 11, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions on Virtual Schools

What is a Virtual School?
A virtual school is an institution that teaches courses entirely through online methods. Unlike a traditional brick-and-mortar school, the student attends a virtual classroom at any location by logging on to their computer and receiving instructions over the internet. Over 1 million children across the country are enrolled in a virtual school with an annual growth rate of 30% since the year 2002. 

For a list of virtual school options, please click here.

Why should a Parent enroll their Child in a Virtual School?
For parents of limited income that live in the city of St. Louis, there are fewer educational options for their children. The city of St. Louis public school system is unaccredited and does not meet the minimum standards for reading and mathematics. There are only so many needs based scholarships to private brick-and-mortar schools and charter schools have a limited number of slots for the lucky few that receive access to one of them. What is a poor parent living in the city of St. Louis to do? The answer over the long term is to embrace the virtual school concept. There are a number of accredited virtual school choices that have a tuition rate within reach of many families. By logging on to a virtual school via a laptop computer, the child can learn at their own pace, free from bullying and endless distractions that accompany education in an overcrowded government school. Quality online education that is affordable and free from the typical complaints that you hear about from parents in the inner city of St. Louis all point to the solution of enrolling your child in a virtual school.

How many children across America currently attend a K-12 virtual school as opposed to a traditional brick-and-mortar school?
The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that from 1999 to 2003 the number of home-schooled children increased from around 850,000 to roughly 1.1 million, a 29 percent jump in four years. Given the difficulty in obtaining reliable nationwide data, many individuals that follow the virtual school trend suggest even higher estimates of around 2 to 2.5 million children currently being home schooled.

Are parents homeschooling their children primarily for religious reasons?
Economist Guillermo Montes’s analysis of data from the massive 2001 National Household Education Survey found that 70 percent of respondents cited a nonreligious reason as the top motivator in their decision to home school.

Is the trend in virtual schooling/homeschooling also taking place in black families?
The U.S. Department of Education estimated that by 2003 there were 103,000 black homeschoolers. Because of the persistent achievement gap, many black parents are pulling their children out of traditional brick-and-mortar schools and choosing a virtual school/homeschooling model. According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a home-school advocacy organization, the Black homeschool movement is growing at a faster rate than the general homeschool population.

Are children that are homeschooled less likely to take an interest in activities outside of school?
Dr. Brian D. Ray collected data on 5,402 home school students from 1,657 families for the 1994–95 and 1995–96 academic years. His results indicated that children in a homeschooling program were enrolled on average in at least 5 outside activities and 98% were involved in at least 2 activities outside of schooling. The activities outside of school included scouts, dance classes, volunteer work, bible clubs, field trips, group sports and music classes.

How is the self-esteem of children attending a homeschooling environment in comparison with children in a traditional school?
Dr. Larry Shyers measured the self-esteem of the homeschooled group of 70 children in his study and compared it with that of the traditionally schooled group between the ages of eight and ten. On the Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale, a widely used measure of self-esteem, no difference was found between the two groups. More studies with large sample sizes have confirmed Shyers’s results.

How do children that were homeschooled perform later in life?
Research conducted at the University of Michigan by J. Gary Knowles, found that teaching children at home did not create socialization problems. In a survey of 53 adults who were taught at home, he found: two thirds were married, which is the norm for adults their age, none were unemployed or on welfare, more than 40 percent attended college and 15 percent of those had completed a graduate degree. A resounding 96 percent of those surveyed said they would want to be taught at home again. Another interesting aspect of Knowles’ research was that a very high percentage of these adults were self-employed, leading Knowles to conclude that children who were home schooled were more self-reliant and independent than their public school counterparts.

Why is the socialization issue always brought up as an argument against homeschooling or virtual schooling?
There are some individuals that make their living off of the traditional brick-and-mortar school model that view the virtual school trend as a threat to their job security. It is irrational and not backed up by any academic evidence that socialization skills are less developed among children that attend a virtual school. The facts are simple, and the research is available. Homeschooled children have been tested for every aspect of social development and have passed these tests with flying colors. Students who have been homeschooled consistently score higher on standardized tests than their public school peers. The intense scrutiny that homeschooling has been subjected to has been shown that homeschooled children’s social development is not just equal to that of public school children but in most cases superior.

How do I know the virtual school I’m enrolling my child in is meeting the degree of excellence that I want?
The school accreditation process is a voluntary method of quality assurance developed more than 100 years ago and is designed to distinguish schools adhering to a set of educational standards. One of the premier accreditation agencies for private schools is AdvancED . Most of the Catholic brick-and-mortar high schools in the St. Louis Archdiocese are accredited by this organization. There are over 100+ distance learning schools including many virtual schools currently accredited by AdvancEd.

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