When it comes to alternative education, Pennsylvania is now home to 154 charter schools, according to PDE reports. When it comes to the numbers, we are high on the list; PA is the 4th highest state in terms of number of charter schools, in the U.S. What is more interesting, or perhaps telling, is that 16 of our charter schools are cyber charter institutions. And, enrollment numbers are climbing. The cyber school stamp is expected to double next year, with eight cyber charter proposals waiting in line to open. The numbers are impressive. Over 32,000 Pennsylvania students are enrolled in Pennsylvania’s cyber schools as full-time students.
Many educators, parents, and administrators are asking the same questions: why all the hype? What is it about cyber learning that makes a difference? Cyber education offers the best of many worlds, granting students the opportunity to direct their learning. Cyber school offers individualized instruction, flexibility, appropriate pacing, differentiated lessons, and more one-on-one time with instructors. Although it may sound counter-intuitive, many cyber school students tout knowing their teachers better in cyber school. They also feel they are able to learn more directly from longer one-on-one instruction (a teacher outside the traditional classroom can spend 10-20 minutes discussing a concept with a student). Further, cyber school gives students more control of their own learning. Students are choosing when and where to learn. Taking education into their own hands fuels their interest in learning because for once, students are in the driver seat. A welcomed sense of ownership helps students to learn self-sufficiency, self-advocacy, and independence.
At 21CCCS, we are huge proponents of independent learning, and teaching students to think critically at their own pace. We want students to grow their academic curiosities and hone their strengths and skills in a way that is comfortable for them. We are able to provide the right amount of assistance, guidance, and mentorship through our P4SL model.
Each charter school is different, but we’ve found that our students benefit from cyber education. They have embraced new technologies, expanded their sense of adaptability, and reap the rewards academically. “All the hype” is about seeing students succeed. We have seen the success stories, watched our students grow, and look forward to a bright future in which cyber schooling continues to positively influence our community. Students who know how to think for themselves and live as self-advocates are sure to shine in the future.