Hope Online taking applications
Hope Online taking applications
Ken McLemore, Hope Public Schools

HOPE – The prospects for the beginning in the fall semester 2017-2018 of a virtual instructional academy, Hope Online, have begun to crystalize.

Hope Public Schools Superintendent Bobby Hart and Todd Thieken, Midwest manager for Edmentum, in Bloomington, Minn., met with about 30 parents and students who have expressed interest in utilizing an online option through the HPS this fall. Hart met with the group and introduced Thieken’s services in a virtual instruction forum at Hempstead Hall on the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana campus.

“We want to be an option,” Hart said. “If it’s a good fit for you, that’s great. We think we have a quality product to offer.”

Most of the parents and students in attendance at the May 18 forum currently participate in home-school education through some form of online curriculum. Hart said the HPS proposal will allow those students, once formally enrolled in the district, to continue studying at home, but with a broad range of accredited resources, available social interaction, and student-tailored guidance that is free of charge.

“We can personalize the process on our end to help personalize it on their end,” he said, through Edmentum. “The good news is this will not cost you a dime.”

The district will provide a wifi “hot spot” from which to connect a student’s online device, if necessary, he said.

“This whole process is about options,” Hart said.

Thieken outlined the Edumentum system, which he said will deliver a student an accredited educational curriculum that will result in a student graduating with a diploma equivalent to that at Hope High School.

“We can deliver an online education for your child at home, at school, or in between,” Thieken said. “We are providing you with certified Arkansas teachers for every course.”

He said the curriculum is grades 6-12 based, with certified teachers delivering each course through online assignments, online and face-to-face discussion, and personalized monitoring of student progress.

“Every teacher is going to personalize the learning environment for your child,” Thieken said.

He said every student receives the same supports through guidance counseling, special education courses where needed, and college path counseling as is provided in any public school system. All curriculum is tied to Arkansas state standards and national standards, and all teachers are certified for the courses they teach. The program is also NCAA eligible, Thieken said.

With some 100 semesters of core course curriculum, world language classes, AP classes, career and technical education classes, and 30 elective areas offered, Thieken said the Hope Online model will provide each student with enhanced learning options in a 24-7 online access availability to course materials that more genuinely fits learning to a student’s pace.

“We spent a lot of time with our curriculum design to be sure the student will be successful with the next course and everything toward graduation,” Thieken said.

That includes an “alert” system which notifies whoever the parent designates should their child fall two days behind in coursework.

“We all have struggled at some time; and, we work very hard to have a connection with the child and with you,” Thieken said.

The “alert” system allows both parents and teacher to be fully engaged with any areas of concern academically, he said.

“It’s not one size fits all; it’s one size fits one child, and another size fits another child,” Thieken said.

Curriculum calendars can also be designed to accommodate family needs, he said.

“You are not tied to the school calendar,” Thieken said.

Hart said the curriculum can be designed to provide for online study for one course or a student’s complete course of study. And, Hope Online students are eligible to participate in extracurricular activities of the district, he said.

“We’re going to turn over every stone to get your student where they need to be,” he said.

While state-mandated testing must be conducted on a public school campus by law, Hart said the district will accommodate online students accordingly.

“We will make those adjustments for your students,” he said.

Hart said an official district enrollment form is required for participation, and forms for online enrollment will become available Monday, May 22, in the “Documents” section of the Hope Public Schools website.