How to Set up Online High School Classes: A Checklist for Guidance Counselors & Schools

Posted by Des Sinkevich on July 8, 2024

As schools and educators seek innovative ways to meet the diverse needs of students, online high school completion programs have emerged as a pivotal solution. These programs not only cater to individual schedules and learning paces but also empower students to achieve their academic goals regardless of geographical constraints or personal circumstances. They also provide an opportunity for schools to help students who struggle with the one-size-fits-all format of a traditional education while also increasing district graduation rates, making a positive impact on the community.


If you’re a school or guidance counselor searching for solutions for your students, here’s what to consider when launching an online high school program.


Read more: How Online Classes Can Help Learners Succeed in High School


person taking notes in planner.

Why offer private online high school classes

While many districts today may have a virtual option in place, these alternative high school classes still often follow the strict timelines and learning pace of an in-class education. For some students who need to learn at home, this can be a good fit. But for others who may find themselves struggling to keep up with their class or find themselves bored with their current learning pace, a more flexible option is often needed.


And, for those students who may have had to take on additional responsibilities at home to support their families, a structured class schedule can be detrimental, leading them to the decision to drop out.


Instead, online high school programs that offer asynchronous learning can provide an effective solution to many of the challenges that act as roadblocks to high school completion. With self-paced lessons and no set schedule, students can

  • Learn at the pace that works for them
  • Support their families
  • Work
  • Develop talents and interests outside of school
  • Access education anywhere, anytime


Besides a format that allows them to guide their own learning experience, online education can often offer more accessibility for students who experience mental health struggles or learning difficulties.


Read more: How Education Inequality Impacts Student Success


Checklist for implementing online high school programs

For schools and guidance counselors considering the integration of online high school completion programs, here are crucial steps to ensure success:


1. Assess student needs

Conduct surveys or interviews to understand the demand for online programs among current and potential students. Identify specific challenges students face that could be addressed through online learning.


Read more: The Benefits of Offering Career-Focused Classes in High School


2. Identify an online education partner

Research and find a trusted, accredited online high school program. You’ll want to verify accreditation and ensure that the offered curriculum is beneficial to students and aligns with national and regional standards. Additionally, finding an education partner that offers what your students are looking for is important. This means making sure that it offers the flexibility they need, the appropriate support resources, and the right classes.


3. Ensure training for staff and counselors

Guidance counselors and appropriate support staff should have a strong understanding of the benefits and downsides of transferring students to an online solution. This can best help them advise learners and their parents on the appropriate options for them. They should also be able to identify who they think could benefit most from an online learning environment and help those students find the help and support they need to take advantage of the program.


4. Promote the program

While schools may not want to promote an alternative high school over their own, ensuring you have information available for those who could benefit from these alternatives is important. Additionally, it can be vital to offer an online solution for those students who are considering dropping out. Depending on the reasons behind their decision, an online solution could solve many of the issues that push a student to leave school without graduating.


Read more: Can Online High School Impact Drop Out Rates?


5. Monitor and evaluate progress

Some students may benefit from completely transferring to an online option while others would do well by simply replacing some in-person credits with online classes. If learners are taking advantage of credit recovery or attempting to graduate early by adding online credits to their transcripts, it’s important that school staff can monitor their progress and grades. You’ll want to make sure to take advantage of whatever learning management system your online partner provides to effectively monitor students taking part.


6. Work closely with the online provider

It’s important to work closely with the online education provider you partner with to ensure that the program continues to meet your needs and is an effective solution for students. Besides keeping up to date with any changes in the learning platform, it’s also important to make sure that their education standards and curriculum continue to align with standards and fulfill requirements.


Additionally, the school you work with can help to address any challenges that students who are new to online learning may face, so having an open line of communication is important.


Read more: How High School Class Alternatives Improve Graduation Rates


Penn Foster’s trusted high school solution 

Incorporating online high school completion programs represents a transformative opportunity for schools and guidance counselors to empower students with greater flexibility and personalized learning experiences. By embracing these programs, educational institutions can expand their reach, support diverse student needs, and foster academic success beyond the confines of traditional classroom settings.


If you’re considering setting up an online high school option for students or want to offer new resources to those students who aren’t succeeding in a traditional setting, a trusted partner like Penn Foster can help.


With a long history of work in distance – and now virtual – education, Penn Foster’s regionally and nationally accredited high school is experienced in working with a varied demographic of students and can provide flexible, self-paced courses. In partnership with school districts across the country, Penn Foster has offered high school completion, credit recovery, and individual course options to meet the needs of schools, students, and parents.


To learn more about how Penn Foster works with schools like yours, reach out to our dedicated team today!