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Partnering for Student Success
Whether in a traditional classroom setting or a virtual (i.e., online) setting, student learning depends on many factors, chief among them is a student's motivation and commitment. While such characteristics are intrinsic to some students, in others, these essential learning traits can be engendered through engaging teaching or a subject of special interest to a student. And, according to some school staff interviewed for this guide, the online setting itself serves to catalyze interest and motivation in some students.
But as is true of any formal education effort, in the online setting, a student's success also depends on many factors beyond his or her control, some that are the responsibility of the student's district or home school and others that are the responsibility of the online provider. Even though each organization—school or district and provider— has distinct roles, the responsibilities are tightly connected and some must be carried out in partnership. For example, while it is the district's or school's responsibility to investigate and understand students' needs for and interests in supplemental advanced course work, it is the provider's responsibility to offer an array of high-quality, engaging courses that meet state academic standards and are likely to address the needs of a district or school. And while it is up to the district or school to make sure students receive adequate local support for online learning (e.g., course counseling, technology assistance), the provider must provide training and other preparation for the individuals in these important support roles. Table 2 identifies suggested practices for school- or district-level educators and their partnering online provider in carrying out their respective responsibilities for enabling students to take full advantage of what online learning has to offer. While all of these responsibilities apply irrespective of whether the online courses are delivering advanced or core content, some aspects of implementation (e.g., student recruitment, student support) are even more important in the context of advanced course work, especially when working with students who have had less experience with advanced content or who may be less motivated, or both. For additional implementation guidance, see Appendix A, Online Learning Program Implementation Checklist for District or School, on page 77.