SK Online Handbook For Counselors

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1 SK Online Handbook For Counselors Contents Mission 2 General Resources 2 Screening and Orienting Students 3 Students Needing Special Consideration 4 Standards and Accreditation 5 Registering Students 6 Monitoring and Mentoring Students 7 Attendance and Dropping Students 8 Full-time Enrollment 9 Tips for Student Success in Online Courses 9 Spring

2 Mission Roberts High School provides an educational experience addressing the unique needs of adolescents to learn and thrive outside the conventional education system. We believe students should be welcomed with unconditional positive regard, build significant relationships, and enjoy multiple opportunities for learning. As a result, our students will be able to make positive choices as graduates, workers, and contributors to the community. In addition to the variety of educational choices available in traditional schools, online learning provides further learning opportunities. SK Online serves students who benefit from online instruction in an environment of any time, any place, any path, any pace learning via the Internet. Without a doubt, school counselors are very important in building a student s path to success. With proper advising, support from their resident schools, and instructional services from SK Online, students from diverse populations and with various abilities can succeed in their online courses. Students take online courses for a number of reasons: recovering credit, help in resolving scheduling conflicts, and gaining a broader choice of courses. Some students fully enroll with SK Online to continue their high school education when they are unable to attend a traditional school. To better serve students, this publication aims to assist counselors in their understanding key features of SK Online: General Resources SK Online displays several helpful resources on the SK Online home page at Frequently Asked Questions answers to common questions about SK Online Current Course Offerings lists online classes open to students Course Catalog - SK Online offers over 100 course titles in core subjects and electives ranging from dual-credit courses earning college credit, Advanced Placement, mainstream courses, to credit acceleration courses. Orientation - demonstrates how online courses operate and explains basic policies 2

3 Screening and Orienting Students SK Online was the subject of the first doctoral research project on high school online learning. That study showed two major correlations for student success in online learning are apparent: GPA just as in the conventional classroom, the higher the student s grade point average, the greater the chance the student will be successful in an online course. Likewise, students attempting to catch up on lost credits may not have solved the reasons for previous academic failure. Reading ability students with higher reading levels do better online than students with lower reading levels. Online learning is a text-rich environment. Poor readers can do well with proper support and course placement. At a minimum, students need to be reading at the 1000 lexile level. SK Online letter graded courses offer course curriculum equal to or more difficult than mainstream courses offered in the conventional high school. Pass/No Pass courses may be used to earn credit for the equivalent letter-graded options and may be a better alternative for students who have struggled with mainstream course curriculum. A reading lexile of at least 1000 is required for a student to be able to succeed in either line of curriculum. Generally, online learning requires: more reading than in a traditional classroom, good self-discipline and personal time management skills, willingness to write, willingness to spend a considerable amount of time on a computer, intrinsic motivation willingness to take personal responsibility. 3

4 In preparation for screening and assisting potential online students, counselors should consider: previewing an course in depth to get a personal sense of online learning; reviewing SK Online course catalog; completing an online orientation. Success in online courses is fostered through appropriate course placement, good communication, as well as coordination with the computer lab instructional assistants, as available. SK Online teachers and phone students directly and through computer lab assistants. As appropriate, SK Online teachers also provide feedback directly within student assignments and comments. SK Online requires students to complete an online orientation as the first assignment in a course. Counselors or other school staff may guide students through the orientation and help them to understand their responsibilities for managing their own learning. In a school where many students are interested in online opportunities, a counselor might consider conducting orientation courses or sessions. Students with low reading levels (below 1000 lexile), minimal academic skills, or previous academic failure should be advised to take pass / no pass courses and be provided with additional onsite resources or assistance. Students Needing Special Consideration Students with low reading skills though there are technological advantages such as animation, audio and video, online learning is very reliant on text. Reading lexile levels for even SK Online s credit acceleration courses vary from 1100 to 1300 (that ranges from a solid 9th grade to first-year college reading level). Students with low reading skills need additional supports to be successful in online learning. 4

5 Students with limited English skills - In compliance to ODE findings, students designated as English Language Learners cannot enroll with SK Online unless they have been designated by Compensatory Education as transitioning or exited from ELL services. Students requiring extraordinary specialized education support SK Online enrolled students are served by learning resource center instructional staff supporting specialized education for students with mild learning and emotional disabilities. Students enrolled with their resident school and taking supplementary online courses are supported by the resident school s special education staff. The student s IEP team at the local school should be consulted regarding the suitability of online education prior to registration or referral for online learning. The student s IEP must be up to date prior to a request for enrollment with SK Online. Sending the IEP coversheet with the Request for Alternative Program Placement form is very helpful. SK Online and other alternative learning programs do not have designated resources to support students with severe learning or emotional disabilities. Standards and Accreditation Online courses are aligned with Oregon standards and Salem-Keizer planned course statements. As an instructional program of Roberts High School, SK Online courses are accredited by Northwest Association of Accredited Schools. Some courses also may be taken for college credit through Chemeketa Community College. Several SK Online teachers and courses in college writing, business, and health occupations qualify through CCC s College Credit Now! as dualcredit courses. Several courses in upper level mathematics are suitable for Advanced Placement as recognized by the College Board. 5

6 Registering Students Registration for online courses is available online using the SK Online registration system. The registration system is linked to the grade reporting and course management tools. SK Online courses are cataloged and available online, complete with Salem-Keizer course number designations. The online course catalog is linked at SK Online s home page, Some courses will not serve as exact replacements for retrieving credit, for example SK Online s Geometry does not replace Honors Geometry. For schools outside of the Salem-Keizer Public School District, a local school can pay for a specified number of course slots and the registration system will confirm those registrations with local staff. In general, counselors should do the following when registering: 1. Confirm the current availability of particular SK Online courses and the number of slots available at your school. 2. If the student is on an IEP, consult with special education staff whether taking an online course is appropriate. 3. Discuss with the student reasons for an online placement. Online learning is a great option for most students but may not be right for every student. 4. Match the student skills with the appropriate course. Some courses have pre-requisites. Please check the course catalog for those listings. 5. Have the student register online or school staff may register for the student. SK Online will confirm the registration and notify the student via when the student has been placed into their course. 6

7 Monitoring and Mentoring Students Once registered for a course, students ought to be assigned to a mentor that can assist them with their online learning experience. The mentor may be a counselor, an advisor, or a computer lab instructional assistant familiar with online learning. The mentor monitors student s work, checks the student s progress and grades, represents the interest of the student to SK Online, communicates with parents and other school staff, and coordinates testing or lab work as needed. Students are required to attend online classes regularly and maintain contact with teachers. Successful mentors frequently use work contracts and schedule agreements to help students pace themselves through the coursework. Mentors help bridge the distance and time gaps between students and their online teachers. Per School Board policy, SK Online posts academic progress continually throughout the semester rather than by 6 week periods as in a conventional school. Student records are available on-demand to students and parents, and displayed online. Every student is able to know exactly where he or she is in a course by checking their individual "online grade book." Password protected course records are available only to those directly concerned with the student's progress through the student s username and password. To maintain confidentiality, SK Online displays course progress individually and reports grades directly to the school registrar upon course completion or at the end of an academic term. Students can show their online progress to parents, counselors, advisors, instructional assistants, and administrators. In place of traditional progress grades, computer lab instructional assistants are instrumental in gathering student progress information as an interface between SK Online and local school staff. 7

8 By TSPC ruling, Instructional Assistant's cannot issue a grade or behavioral comments on a grade report. They can report the current progress as determined and posted by the online teacher. The licensed online teacher is the person who issues the grade for a course. Mentors should follow up on each student and can report the progress grade information to administration and counselors as needed. For example, mentors can tracking student progress on a spreadsheet. Mentors should ask students to go to their grade book feature weekly and record the student s current grade percent and the progress toward completion of the class. Attendance and Dropping Students SK Online courses are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week during an 18-week semester (summer session is five to six weeks in length). Students are required to attend classes regularly. Online attendance is taken twice a week. Students are dropped if they miss 10 or more consecutive days. Teachers contact the student after three missed days via and or telephone. If there is no response in three more days, the teacher attempts to notify the student s parents. At the end of ten days the student is dropped unless there is a compelling reason for the extended absence. When students decide to drop, they must work through their school counselor to make the drop official. In some cases, online course drop procedures are similar to in-classroom course drops. SK Online offers a no-fault drop period during the initial ten days in a course. 8

9 Full-time Enrollment Alternative education provides opportunities for students to maintain or reconnect to their learning outside of conventional schooling. SK Online and other alternative education programs can meet student needs: for getting back on track for return to a conventional high school or completion of a diploma; for overcoming barriers preventing regular attendance by participating in school online; and rapidly obtaining high school credit, especially in the case of older students. Students are best served by alternative programs that provide the best match in terms of resources and capabilities. Full-time enrollment with any alternative education program is not automatic. Enrollment is subject to an intake process that clarifies a student s needs. Students must remain enrolled in their neighborhood school until they are accepted into an alternative program. Tips for Student Success in Online Courses Course content and assignments are prepared prior to student access into a course. Students can see the entire course from the very start. For security and backup purposes, students need to use their skoclass for communication with their online teachers. Students need to contact their teachers often and directly via and telephone. Online courses are academic, so academic styles of writing are expected (i.e., standard abbreviations, capitalization, and punctuation). Teachers regularly use and course announcements to communicate. When students log-in at SK Online (http://skoclass.org ), students should always read Announcements and check their skoclass . As needed, SK Online teachers and telephone parents/guardians to make contact. In order to succeed in an online environment, students must be consistently and actively involved. Students need to plan on spending at least 5 hours per week to complete the average course in an 18 week semester. Some courses, such as College Writing, require much more time. 9

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