Troy district to launch program for homeschooled students
Source: Detroit Free Press
By: Lori Higgins
May 4, 2012
The Troy School District will launch a program in September targeted at homeschooled students that will allow them to take high school courses -- taught mostly by district teachers -- online.
Though it's not unusual for homeschooled students to take classes in their local public schools, it's not as common for a district to create a program exclusively for them.
District officials say they were spurred by a belief that there's a need for such programs among parents who homeschool, and by a need to ensure those parents have access to quality courses.
"We're concerned about the virtual explosion out there," said Holly Toggweiler, homeschool liaison for the district.
That explosion, she said, means there's a "buyer beware" atmosphere in which "you don't know how good a program is going to be until you're halfway through it."
She said the district can ensure the quality of its programs because it will hire highly qualified teachers to teach the courses and has vetted the software providers for courses not taught by Troy teachers.
The program, called INTERSECT, will be free to homeschooled students because the district will receive state funding based on the amount of time they spend in the program.
The classes will be offered in several formats. Homeschooled students can sign up for hybrid courses in which much of the work is done online at home, but they're required to spend several hours a week in a classroom, working one-on-one with their teachers. They can enroll in online-only courses through popular programs such as E20/20 and Novanet. And they can take art and drama courses -- taught to homeschooled students only -- in a school building.
The program would be offered to students in Oakland and bordering counties, Toggweiler said.
Idy Kiser of Shelby Township likes the idea. She learned about it during a luncheon the district held for homeschool groups earlier this week. All of her four children have been homeschooled, and two are currently at the high school level.
Kiser said it's a good idea to provide such services to homeschooled students across the state. The Troy program will be attractive to homeschool parents, she said, if it provides the flexibility they desire.
"We're definitely considering it," said Kiser, who resides within Utica Community Schools.
The idea to create such a program came from Dawn Wyatt, an enrichment coordinator in the Troy district's continuing education department. She homeschooled her children for nine years.
She said homeschool parents often sign their children up for classes outside home when they reach high school, particularly when it comes to higher-level math and science courses that are difficult to teach. Those courses, she said, can be expensive.
She said she believes the program is innovative because other programs created exclusively for homeschooled students are online-only. The hybrid courses make the Troy program unique, she said.
"As far as I know, no one else is doing this."