Choosing an online private school gives families so much flexibility to do things like move overseas or launch a career as an artist or athlete. But how do you find the right one for your student? Coming prepared with a set of questions will help you find an online private school that is high quality and will work for your family.
Online private schools are a resource for families who can’t find what they need from a brick-and-mortar school or a public school. Compared to brick-and-mortar private schools, like the ones you can find with these search tools, online private schools allow families to move in space—travel across the state, the country, or overseas—and time, by building a daily schedule around work, activities, or medical needs. Also, online private schools may be more affordable than brick-and-mortar private schools. Compared to public online schools, which may be restricted to a particular state and its requirements for curriculum and standardized testing, online private schools are not tied to those standards. However, if online private schools have so much flexibility, how do parents make sure their children are getting a high quality education?
Questions to Ask About Online Private Schools
Julie Taylor, Head of School at The Bridge School, a private, international, online school, offered advice for parents about what questions to ask while researching online private schools. Getting information on these topics will help you identify high quality schools that would be a good fit for your family.
Research the school’s accreditation status. An accredited school has typically gone through an extensive process to demonstrated that it meets a specific set of standards for matters such as its governing body, student recruitment practices, academic integrity, faculty professional development, and financial stability. Typically, an independent group of educators will conduct a periodic review and look extensively at the inner workings of the institution. Visit the accreditation entity’s website, or make a phone call, to verify that the school is in good standing.
Ask whether the teachers are certified. Do they have knowledge of the subject areas that they teaching? You want to be confident that the people spending hours a day sharing information with your children are well qualified to teach.
Especially if you will be relocating overseas, ask the school what language the classes will be taught in, and what language the curriculum is presented in. Will the school be teaching in more than one language? Does your child need to be fluent in reading and writing in that language, or fully bilingual in more than one language?
As you and your child plan ahead for the future, ask the school how they prepare students for life after graduation. Do they offer a diploma? If the school is overseas, do they have a dual diploma program?
Colleges and Universities Post-High School
When students graduate from the school, where do they go to college? Ask the school for a list of colleges and universities that its alumni have attended or are attending. Where does your student want to go to college, and are those higher ed choices on the list?
Schedules and Pacing
Ask questions about how students move through the curriculum. What is the school calendar like? Is it based on an American school calendar, or an international calendar?
Find out if students are working through the material together at the same pace, or if students are working more independently. If your student wants to accelerate and graduate early, how would that work? What about if your student needs extra help?
Look for information about the curriculum that the school offers. Do they have honors classes, AP, or dual credit college courses? Which courses are offered fully digitally, hybrid, or in-person? Synchronous or asynchronous? If your family will be traveling, or if your student may need to take breaks for health reasons, ask how the school would handle that.
It may take some digging to put together a bottom line price for a semester or a year at a private online school. Look for tuition costs as well as fees for textbooks, labs, etc. If the information is hard to find on the school’s website, try searching “[school name] [city name] tuition costs.” Some online schools may allow students to attend part time or purchase individual courses à la carte.
When researching private online schools, there are a lot of factors to take into account. Julie Taylor, Head of School at The Bridge School, recommends investigating all these topics, from accreditation to tuition costs, to make sure that the school will be the right fit for your family. Knowing ahead of time will give you confidence that your child is getting a high quality education, while enjoying the flexibility that online private schools provide.
Resources on Finding Online Private Schools
The world of online private schools is full of possibilities. Some of the search tools that we recommend for San Antonio families also cover private online schools, including Niche.com and Fun4AlamoKids. Some of the public online schools that we recommend for Texas students also have affiliated online private schools that offer greater flexibility, including the opportunity to keep studying while living overseas. Word of mouth is a powerful indicator of quality, so be sure to talk with people in your life—friends and family, therapists and health care providers, realtors and relocation specialists, military family liaisons, etc.
Here is a list of online private schools, as well as online learning resources, to help you start your search.
- ABCmouse.com—online learning activities for young children (ages 2–8)
- ASU Prep Digital—accredited, online K–12 private school, with à la carte options
- Athena’s Academy—à la carte courses for gifted students
- The Bridge School—accredited, online K–12 school with good support for families relocating internationally
- CK–12—online learning resources in math and science
- Davidson Academy—online school for gifted students
- Dwight Global Online School—accredited, online private school for grades 7–12
- edX—online college courses
- G3 —à la carte courses for gifted students
- The George Washington University Online High School—accredited, online K–12 private school
- K12 Private Academy—accredited, online K–12 private school
- The Keystone School—accredited, online K–12 private school; not to be confused with San Antonio’s Keystone School, a bricks-and-mortar, college preparatory private school
- Khan Academy—free, online learning resources
- Laurel Springs School—accredited, online K-12 private school
- Outschool—online, small-group enrichment classes
- Pearson Online Academy—accredited, online K–12 private school; Pearson Online is the private school version of Connections Academy, a free, public charter school
- Prenda—microschools and homeschooling support
- Stanford Online High School—accredited, online private school for grades 7–12
- Texas Tech University K–12 (TTU K–12)—online K–12 private school, with à la carte options
- Time4Learning—private, online K–12 homeschooling support
- The University of Texas at Austin High School (UTHS)—accredited, online K–12 private school
- Virtual Learning Academy Charter School—free in New Hampshire, and available for tuition elsewhere
Parents are welcome to join the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook to ask questions about online private schools and other matters related to education, enrichment activities, and more.
Charter Moms Chats
Julie Taylor, Head of School at The Bridge School, joins Inga Cotton on Charter Moms Chats on May 13, 2021 at 4:00 PM Central live on Facebook and YouTube.Julie Taylor has spent the past 20 years helping students find success as both a teacher and administrator. A true pioneer in online education, Julie was a key administrator for one of the largest online K–12 schools in the nation. Julie and her team successfully led the school through technology breakthroughs, lobbying efforts, and a successful accreditation process, all while online learning was in its infancy. Julie has served in roles including; teacher, principal, and Head of School. Additionally, she served as Director for national math remediation and instructional coaching programs.
Read More About Online Schools
- “Introducing Great Hearts Microschools,” Kurtis Indorf, San Antonio Charter Moms, May 10, 2021
- “Top 25 Online High Schools,” Best College Reviews, May 3, 2021
- “Guide to Online Elementary School,” Accredited Schools Online, April 27, 2021
- “Guide to Online Middle School,” Accredited Schools Online, April 27, 2021
- “Guide to Online High School,” Accredited Schools Online, April 27, 2021
- “The Ultimate Guide to Online School—How Does Online School Work?,” School Choice Week, April 26, 2021
- “Best Online Homeschool Programs,” Laura Dorwart, Verywell Family, April 24, 2021
- “Great Hearts Online: Classical Education in a Fully Online School,” San Antonio Charter Moms, April 5, 2021
- “2021 Best Online Schools in America,” Niche.com
- “Teacher Tales: Jefferson High School International Baccalaureate World School in San Antonio ISD,” Ralf Halderman and Chris Stanley, San Antonio Charter Moms, November 18, 2020
- “The Importance of Looking at the Whole Family in the Expatriation Process will raise Global Mobility to the Next Level,” Angie Weinberger and Chase Eskelsen, The Bridge School, November 3, 2020
- “Online Schools in Texas,” San Antonio Charter Moms, August 18, 2020
- “6 Differences Between Public and Private Online School,” Beth Werrell, Connections Academy, August 18, 2020
- “These K-12 Online Schools Offer Alternatives in 2020,” Mommy Poppins, August 2, 2020
- “How to Find the Best Schools in San Antonio,” San Antonio Charter Moms, February 25, 2020
- “Virtual Schools,” Fun4AlamoKids
This list was compiled by the staff at SA Charter Moms.