The online iSchool initiative in Anchorage, Alaska expands disadvantaged students’ access to advanced coursework and gives all learners more flexibility to sign up for electives, voc-tech classes and after-school activities.
Enrollment in the Anchorage School District program has nearly tripled, from about 500 students a semester to 1,300 in spring 2016—and 92 percent earn passing grades. A summer school component gives another 1,000 students a chance to recover lost credits or keep from falling behind.
iSchool is designed, in part, to better accommodate students whose family or work responsibilities conflict with traditional school hours.
And online courses reduce class sizes and offer students personalized instruction they can complete at their own pace. It helps students, such as those from military families, who move into the district mid-semester and need to catch up quickly.
iSchool has also been integrated into “Project Puqigtut,” an online Native education program that has been recognized nationally as a model for supporting at-risk youth.
A key to the iSchool is providing teachers with specialized training in online instruction.