Friday, August 30, 2013

Utah Online Options Compared

After spending a good amount of time learning about the homeschool options available through the charter schools ie Harmonyed and MytechHigh, I decided to learn more about what is available to students online and compare them. Remember Oct 1st is the deadline for schools to submit for funding so if you don't have your educational plan figured out by then, the less likely you will get them to cooperate in creating an educational plan beneficial to your child.

Before these options existed I used a combination from the lists from a book called The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and the state standards from the state website where we lived. Today so much more is available. Preparing our children for the future to provide for themselves and their future families is different now from when I started to homeschool.

All of these programs I will compare today are free. They utilize Utah state's SIS system to acquire the funds to sponsor the student's learning, therefore, your child is subjected to the state testing programs. This includes Harmony and MyTechhigh who contract using a charter school's SIS system. Realize the incentives and rules change regularly so be sure and do your homework and ask lots of questions.

Today, I will compare:

  • EHS Electronic high school: 7-12
  • Utah Virtual Academy: k-12
  • East Shore Online
  • Utah Students Connect
  • Provo eschool
  • Alpine Online
  • Utah Online (Washington Online)
  • Mytechhigh  (High Tech High)
  • Harmonyed
  • Mountain Heights Academy (Open High School of Utah)
  • Canyon Grove Distance Learning Program
  • Statewide Online Education

Because living in a school district may have special privileges, here is where you can find out what school district you are in.

I have determined the following for Utah county for the 2013- 2014 school year:

  • Worst district: Nebo School District (it is only in recovery mode)
  • Best for online course options: Provo eschool
  • Best for technology courses: Provo eschool for those in the Provo district, Mytechhigh for those outside of the Provo District, ALC (Springville) for brick and mortar.
  • Best for third party providers: Harmony Ed and HighTech High
  • Best for dual enrollment:
    • Grades K-8 Provo eschool if in Provo School District, Alpine Online if in Alpine School District, Utah Online for Washington County if 7-8th grade
    • Grades 9-12 Provo eschool if in any School District
  • District Best for communication: Alpine Online
  • Best third party online provider communication: My Tech High
  • Best for outside a brick and mortar building social activities: Alpine Online, Utah Online
  • Best for a break: Harmonyed
  • Best for middle school options and learning: Provo eschool if in the Provo district. Utah Online in Washington County. (Nebo District has nothing to offer.) 
  • Best access to concurrent enrollment- Mountain Heights Academy
  • Highest incentive or reimbursement for 2013: Canyon Grove
  • Best example of charter school in middle grades which meets the needs of its students through online and brick/mortar offerings: Canyon Grove

In Utah county, Provo Eschool in my opinion wins hands down because of the dual enrollment, the amazing selection to choose from, the ability to dual enroll 9-12 inside and outside of the district and has great options for 7/8th graders. The rest have far to go in regards to selection and options available for learning.

If I was to rank the schools they would rank in the following from best to worst for providing best educational opportunities. Based upon flexibility, number of online courses available to all grades, course content and communication.

1. Provo eschool
2. High Tech High
3. Mountain Heights Academy
4. Washington Online
4. Alpine Online
5. Utah Virtual Academy
6. Harmony Ed
7. Utah Students Connect
8. Electronic High School
9. East Shore


In my own opinion this really is a last resort for class recovery. EHS offers open-entry/open-exit classes for Utah students at no cost to Utah students or schools. Students work with their local school counselor to select the desired classes. Credit earned at EHS can be used for credit recovery, original credit and credit acceleration. Only classes taken in 9-12 grades are placed on the transcripts. Some of the classes can border on ridiculous (Driver's ED) or excessively rigorous (science courses) Not the same as the packet situations used for recovery in some of the high schools.

  • Grades: 
    • K-6 no
    • 7-8 yes no credit
    • 9-12 for credit
  • Districts that can participate: Statewide
  • Charter dual enrollment: grades 9-12 yes
  • Public school dual enrollment9-12, yes
  • Field trips: no
  • Gatherings for Socialization: no
  • Discounted outings: no
  • Testing required: Yes
  • Accredited: Yes
  • Reimbursement: No
  • Available options
  • Graduation ceremony: no

UTAH VIRTUAL ACADEMY (building located in Salt Lake City)

Utilizes the K12 program  where all curriculum is provided. K12 is very rigorous and time demanding according to those I have interviewed.  Everything is there and everything including supplies are sent to you in a box. If you are unsure of how or what you want to teach your children, all the prep work is done and mailed in a box situation. This as well, as all of the online programs listed can allow up to 3 courses for 2013-2014 school year for 9-12th grades.  2014-15 allows for 4 courses.

  • Grades: K-12
  • Districts that can participate: Statewide
  • Charter dual enrollment: k-8 no 9-12 yes
  • Public school dual enrollment: k-8 no 9-12 yes
  • Field trips: yes scheduled by teachers
  • Gatherings for Socialization: Yes
  • Discounted outings: No
  • Testing required: Yes
  • Accredited: Yes
  • Reimbursement: No, but will provide computers to those who are full time starting this year.
  • Available options:
  • Graduation ceremony: Yes

ALPINE ONLINE (Alpine School District)

Primarily utilizes the K12 program mentioned above with optional Saxon math and Rosetta Stone for second language.  Doesn't seem to have all the class options available that Provo eschool offers. Can be very rigid in my own opinion. Very comprehensive but due to the amount of information it can get very overwhelming.  This is the nature of the K12 program. Knowing this, Alpine Online allows for 80 percent completion in language arts and math, and 70 percent of science, history, art and music to show a completed year.  Although if living within the district, you do have the options to attend your local brick and mortar public school but not any of the charter school unless you are 9-12th grade.

  • Grades: K-8 only
  • Options living inside the district: Grades K-8 dual enrollment allowed within district PUBLIC schools only. Only special cases charter dual enrollment.
  • Options living outside the district: K-8 online only split wpu upon approval,very rare
  • Field trips: Yes 3-4 a month, one a month is paid by the program
  • Gatherings for socialization: 4 parties a year
  • Discounted outings: Yes and offerred to anyone in the homeschooling community
  • Testing required: Yes grades 3-8 year end, grades 5-8 writing, grades 1-3 Dibble reading
  • Accredited: Yes
  • Reimbursement: No, but 1-3 children will get laptop for home, 4 or more children get two computers
  • 3rd party reinbursements: No
  • Available options:
  • Graduation ceremony: No

EAST SHORE ONLINE, (Alpine School District, located in Orem Utah)

This school used to be the alternative school for trouble youth in the Alpine School District. But now it is only the online school for 9-12 grades. The alternative school in the Alpine School district has been changed to Polaris. Although located in the same location in Orem. These people provided packets for recovery classes for the high schools to fulfill graduation requirements. Essentially fill in the blank questions. They have now placed it all online and you can enroll through their interface and fill out the packets for credit. These are not for learning, in my own opinion, but desperation and the ability to "jump through the hoops." Just to say you did it.
  • Grades: 9-12
  • Charter dual enrollment: upon approval of charter Maeser uses them
  • Public school dual enrollment: 
    • Grades 9-12 all options available within the district only up to three classes this year- four classes next year
  • Dual enrollment outside Alpine district: Yes but registration fee higher
  • Field trips: No
  • Gatherings for Socialization: No
  • Discounted outings: No
  • Testing required: Yes must come in for proctored tests for courses
  • Accredited: Yes
  • Reimbursement: No, No computer provided
  • Available options:
  • Graduation Ceremony: Yes, separate from the onsite school, Polaris

UTAH STUDENTS CONNECT- Nebo, Davis, Granite, Jordan, Murray, Park City and Tooele Districts

This as well, as all of the online programs listed can allow up to 3 courses for 2013-2014 school year for 9-12th grades.  2014-15 allows for 4 courses. Unfortunately, These districts are far behind the times.  They offer a very slim selection of classes.  No languages and very similar to EHS.  They only offer the necessary and do not have all the common core math as of yet.  They no longer offer Algebra 1. They offer nothing for middle grades. 
  • Grades: 9-12
  • Charter dual enrollment
    • 9-12
  • Public school dual enrollment:
    • 9-12
  • Sponsored field trips: No
  • Private gatherings for socialization: No
  • Discounted outings: No
  • Testing Required: Yes
  • Accredited: Yes
  • Reimbursement/Incentives: No, must have own access to computer
  • Fees: $45.00 per .25 credit for recovery up to $180 dollars for a full credit
  • Third Party providers from the community: No
  • Graduation Ceremony: Yes
  • Available 9-12 options:

(Provo School District, Provo)

What a wonderful opportunity for those 9-12 grades, for those in the Provo School district K-12, and those outside of the district.
Here's their flow chart for those who can participate:

•K-12 graders within the Provo school district have the best online schooling options available in Utah county. A student in the Provo school district, can take online classes and attend their brick and mortar whether it be charter or public. A third grader through eighth grade can take various courses including language courses and attend their brick and mortar if you live within the district.

  • Provo Eschool allows a student from any district 9-12 graders to participate up to three online courses. Next year the student will be allowed four by state law. Wonderful news: a student in 9th grade student in Payson can take an English course at the local public brick and mortar high school, 3 online course through Provo eschool and attend the ALC in Springville for technology courses. They will fill out an online CCA form. This allows each school to get paid according to the attendance at the particular classes.

  • K-8 students outside of the district can only do the entire online program with Provo eschool, Currently has no ability to dual enroll if you are outside of the provo district. No $400 incentive bonus. No day camp type classes (ie.options day, Scholar school).

    • Grades: K-12
    • Charter dual enrollment:
      • K-8 yes, students and charter school is within Provo district
      • 9-12 yes, all options
    • Public school dual enrollment:
      • K-8 yes, students living within the district/ and schools in district
    • Dual enrollment outside Provo district:
      • K-8 no
      • 9-12 yes, limit 3 online classes this year; 4 next year
    • Field trips: once a month
    • Gatherings for Socialization: Picnic
    • Discounted outings: school education discount
    • Testing required: Yes
    • Accredited: Yes
    • Reimbursement: only for recovery courses, no reimbursement for third party groups
    • Available options:
    • Graduation Ceremony:


    Utah Online is an online provider for not only schools within the Washington school district but they are far reaching. Schools in the Nebo school district allow dual enrollment if 9-12th grade. Utilizes primarily the K12 curriculum so the available online options appear very sparse compared to Provo eschool. Additionally Utah online has added : powerspeak, signing time, Read Alive and ALEKS. Can start with two courses and may enroll up to five. Suggested 1-4 standard core and 1-3 electives. Washington County is the school district. Only has had its 9th-12th grade program for two years now. But they are working well within the Washington District. This as well, as all of the online programs listed can allow up to 3 courses for 2013-2014 school year for 9-12th grades.  2014-15 allows for 4 courses.

    • Dual enrollment living within the district:
      • K-6: not in elementary
      • 7-8: yes public, charter school allows it is possible
      • 9-12: yes
    • Dual enrollment living outside the district:
      • K-6: not in elementary
      • 7-8: middle school if the school allows it is possible, not
      • 9-12: yes
    • Sponsored field trips: Yes - see calendar
    • Private gatherings for socialization: Yes
    • Discounted outings:Yes
    • Testing required: Yes
    • Accredited: Yes
    • Reimbursement: No, but do have computers 1-3 students
    • 3rd party reimbursements: No
    • Graduation Ceremony: Yes
    • Available options:

    Harmony ed has it pluses and minuses. For those who would like some time away from the kids this is the best option. They provide one day a week where the kids can go to learn in a day camp kind of situation. Not anything that could count for accreditation type things or even considered very challenging. Some see it as structured play time without any commitments; others see it as exposure to the subject without all the hoop jumping or busy work. They have had problems resolving credit issues for those who want to graduate with a diploma in the past.

    • Grades: K-12
    • Charter dual enrollment: Not with the schools they have contracts for or are listed below as of 8/29/13 even if you live in the area of the school you are assigned to even though that particular school gets the student's funding. Has been fickle about this and has let some do orchestra, band and other similar electives.
    • Public school dual enrollment:
      • K-8 upon approval of the school- very unlikely unless it is orchestra or band.
      • 9-12 yes required by law
    • Sponsored field trips: Yes, but not very often
    • Private gatherings for socialization:
      • Options Day (one day a week day camp like activities in Riverdale and Provo)
      • ESP (Odgen, Provo, Eagle Mountain, American Fork, Liahona)
      • MAP
    • Discounted outings: Yes
    • Testing Required: Yes
    • Accredited: This is NOT A CHARTER SCHOOL. Depends upon the charter school you are assigned to:

      • Aristotle Academy, American Fork-candidate but not accredited at this time need to get going quickly if they are going to have 9th graders classes accredited for this year.
      • CS Lewis Academy, Santaquin- accredited
      • DaVinci Academy, Ogden-accredited K-12 since aug 2004
      • Mana Academy, West Valley-not accredited
      • Pioneer High School for the Performing Arts, Lehi- yes
      • Rockwell Charter High School Eagle Mountain- yes (up for review this year)

  • Reimbursement: $300-$400 per child if you do not utilize any brick or mortar, options, or ESP
  • Third Party providers from the community: yes
  • Graduation Ceremony: Takes place through the school you are enrolled in if interested in participating.
  • Available options:
    •  Independent Learning 
      • $125 per course up to 4 courses
    •  Options Day
    •  ESP
    • MAP

Mountain Heights Academy (Open High School of Utah)

Mountain Heights Academy, formerly Open High School of Utah, is a tuition-free, online public charter school available to all Utah students in grades 7 – 12. Founded in 2009, school work is divided into weekly modules, which empowers students with the freedom to complete their assignments when and where they choose within each week. Lacking foreign language for 7-8th grades and only Spanish and ASL for 9-12 grades.  All open source materials. They have a partnership with Weber State so that the full-time students can take any of the 400 WSU Concurrent Enrollment online courses as long as they are admitted. They also have a program with Excelsior College in NY for a credit by exam program.  Students can do independent study from whichever source they prefer and for $85 per course take a proctored exam to recieve high school or college credit upon successful completion. Personally, this sounds like a great option for those seeking the associates program.  Although I prefer the UVU associates program over the Weber Program due to controversial course content presented. A parent just needs to be aware and hold conversations if you want your value system to be represented. Either associates degree accomplishes the goal.  

  • Grades: 7-12
  • Charter dual enrollment
    • 7-8 upon approval of charter school-very rare
    • 9-12 yes but dependent upon charter 
  • Public school dual enrollment:
    • 7-8 can easily in the Alpine School District, Provo and Nebo are not willing.
    • 9-12 Alpine allows, Provo sometimes does, Nebo does not.
  • Sponsored field trips: Yes. If at a discount, families can join paying the discounted price also
  • Private gatherings for socialization: 1-2 per month, encourage collaboration between students
  • Discounted outings: Yes
  • Testing Required: Yes
  • Accredited: Yes
  • Reimbursement: No, but they do provide a computer to each full time student
  • Third Party providers from the community: No
  • Graduation Ceremony: Yes
  • Available 7-8 options:
  • Available 9-12 options:

Previously called High Tech High. Now called My Tech High. With the changes, My Tech High has made in the past years, they are on much better footing than Harmony at this time. Communications is fantastic. And if you are doing technology, Matt Bowman the director actually knows his stuff. This also appears to be the BEST option if you are in the Provo School district. Wow you sure get just about everything. I am impressed. Out of the school district you get a lot of everything but the onsite day camp like classes offered by Harmony. Professionalism at its best at My Tech High. This appears to be the best option if your child is interested in the technology coursework offered through Giant Campus and not in the Provo School District.

  • Schools they get their SIS count from
    • Gateway Preparatory Academy Cedar City- accredited 
    • American Leadership Academy in Spanish Fork-accredited 
    • Provo eschool-accredited
  • Dual enrollment allowed with charter schools it works with: No
  • Dual enrollment with local public schools:
    • K-8 no
    • 9-12th grade - yes
  • Sponsored field trips:
  • Private gatherings for socialization: No options day or ESP co-ops
  • Discounted outings: Not a school 
  • Testing required: yes
  • Accredited: Can not be accredited. This is NOT A CHARTER SCHOOL. But all the schools they currently work with as of 8/13 are accredited.
  • Reimbursement: $400 technology allowance, $150 for certain subjects
  • Third Party providers from the community: yes $300 allottment
  • Graduation Ceremony:
  • Available options:

Newest addition as of 2013

588 West 3300 North, Pleasant Grove
This is a charter school that is catering to the distant learning and is a great model to watch as they offer both brick/mortar with the online options. The Canyon Grove Academy Distance Learning option is an individualized educational journey that takes place outside the traditional classroom. Distance education students learn at home using a personalized curriculum with educational resources provided by Canyon Grove.  Uses Razz Kids, Typing Pal, Waterford Reading Program (K-2) and other programs.

  • Grades: K-8
  • Districts that can participate: Statewide
  • Charter dual enrollment: With Canyon Grove only- They can attend a combination of visual art, dance, music and theatre classes during the day. Middle school students may also take American Sign Language, Spanish, CTE and PE classes. Can use school breakfast and lunch program. 
  • Public school dual enrollment: No
  • Sponsored field trips: Yes
  • Private gatherings for socialization: Yes
  • Discounted outings: No
  • Testing Required: Yes, All testing can be done remotely if needed
  • Accredited: Yes
  • Reimbursement$450 reimbursement that can be used for supplies and individualized approved curriculum. George Mueller, Scera, Best in Music, and Williamsburg Intermediate classes are also reimbursable. 
  • Third Party providers from the community: Yes
  • Graduation Ceremony: No
  • Available options: Contact Laurie Compton (801-541-5530) 

They have 149 unique courses including online seminary.
    This is a state funded national online school.  It is all or nothing.  There isn't any dual enrollment allowed so if you child wants to take any brick and mortar classes or advance with the concurrent enrollment courses it looks like it is not possible.  They do provide a computer for the younger grades but not the older grades.  Both parent and child must finish an online orientation.  Parents required to log in each day to check attendance for each child.  Easy to keep track of classes, assignments, content. A field trip is provided each month. Since national it is common core aligned. May have issues opting out of testing and use it to count against grades but may change with the new opt out laws.  Online math program is Khan and is poor quality. Lots of extra work that don't pertain to lessons and no way to opt out of the excess work. 
    Main office located in Woodscross, Utah
    Enrollment - placement test, provide materials, K-6th received desktop and monitor per household and Internet stipend payments made 3 times a year.  7-12 must provide own computer and no internet subsidy.

    • Dual enrollment living within the district: No it is all or nothing
    • Dual enrollment living outside the district: No it is all or nothing
    • Sponsored field trips: Yes - dependent upon teacher
    • Private gatherings for socialization: Yes
    • Discounted outings: Yes
    • Testing required: Yes
    • Accredited: Yes by Northwest Accreditation Commission June 2014
    • Reimbursement: No other than what is listed above
    • 3rd party reimbursements: No
    • Graduation Ceremony: Yes, they do give a diploma
    • Available options:

Later, but not today, I hope to provide a list of independent accredited online school programs which you pay for but are not subjected to state testing. Place to go,  if you don't care for the Utah common core.  Especially if you don't care for the current common core 2015 math graduation requirements that require SS1math, SS2math, SS3math on a transcript to receive a Utah diploma. I must remind you that these programs are paid for by the parent not reimbursable by the state and are considered private (ie: Park City Independent).

Here is a list of non common core related curriculum:

If using a traditional method for math, a student must complete calculus to receive a high school diploma. (See Common core math required for UTAH diploma.) I have learned as long as you have not enrolled in a Utah publicly funded school prior (that is, never before in your high school career) and have taken the traditional math (algebra 1, geometry, algebra 2), those math classes can be applied toward the diploma but the calculus requirement still holds.  Must realize schools are not required to carry calculus in the schools.

The other options is to get your diploma through NAHRS. BYU accepts NAHRS diplomas.