Educating Students from Kindergarten through High School
In This Chapter ▶ Considering the role of online education for young learners ▶ Examining the differences between online education for kids and adults ▶ Looking at different kinds of virtual schools ▶ Getting into class A popular viral video is circulating among teachers that reinforces the idea of preparing students for jobs and futures we haven’t yet imagined. In other words, what kids learn today may be obsolete in the near future, but we should try our best to teach skills that transfer. What this means to average kids in the 7th grade is that their education must be relevant to their futures; they need to be taught to creatively apply what they learn today to what they’ll experience tomorrow. Without critiquing the entire educational system, we can agree that in North America we are looking for alternatives to the traditional school. Perhaps this is why charter schools and homeschooling have become so popular in the last decade. Online education may be the next wave for young learners.
In Chapter 2 we briefly introduce the idea that kids are learning online. This chapter examines why younger learners of all ages are taking courses online, and how this type of online education is different from that of their adult counterparts. We walk through the various models of online learning for young students and discuss what you should know before signing up your child for an online course.
Understanding Why Kids Are Going to School Online We could point you toward The Pew Internet and American Life Project and their reports regarding Internet usage among kids ages 12 to 17, but you probably don’t need research to know that kids are online. Granted, a lot of their time is spent checking social networking accounts and playing games, but a growing amount of time is spent learning. In this section, we review some of the reasons kids of all ages are attending online classes, either because they want to be or they need to be.
Wanting to be online Our first category includes families who voluntarily move all or part of their children’s instruction online. Notice we introduce the idea of family decisionmaking; independent children rarely make this decision. Nevertheless, here are a couple popular reasons:
✓ Families are homeschooling. Online education allows families who homeschool to select curricula and programs that better meet their needs. Parents who aren’t expert educators stand a better chance of introducing materials and methods that will truly help their children learn better because the online school provides a teacher who partners with the parent. ✓ Kids can learn at their own pace. Because most online programs are set up to allow a child to complete the work independently, a fast learner can move at a fast pace. Gifted and talented children are not held back by the pace of instruction. The same is true for children who need more time to master a subject. Because she’s working independently, a child can take longer on a particular lesson if she needs to.
Needing to be online Sometimes the decision to move instruction online comes from an external force. Here are a few such circumstances:
✓ Health or family concerns interfere with traditional education. Unfortunately, a child may find herself dealing with a significant health issue — for example, extreme epilepsy — that prevents her from attending a traditional school. Additionally, older children occasionally need to drop out of school to contribute to the family, either by providing child care or medical care for parents. Online education allows these kids to continue learning at home with a schedule that’s more convenient.
Online opportunities allow kids to make progress toward their educational goals despite such circumstances. ✓ The course is only available online. Advanced and specialized classes may not be available to kids who live in rural school districts or whose local public schools have limited resources. However, these students may find these types of classes online through virtual schools. Advanced placement courses are available through many online programs, for example. ✓ The student has had disciplinary issues. A child may have made some bad decisions in the past that resulted in expulsion. When a child is expelled from school, families have few options other than homeschooling or extremely costly private schools. Online education may be a method whereby kids can continue learning. ✓ The kid has a career. Child athletes and actors lead unusual lives. It used to be common to read about a child actor and her tutor, but today with online education, tutoring may be electronic. The same is true for athletes. A rising star in the ice skating world, for instance, may complete her education online while training for major competitions. ✓ The teacher sends the student online. Traditional high schools may offer a portion of instruction online as a hybrid or Web-enhanced course. The teacher may ask students to complete homework assignments or quizzes online so that class time can be used for other activities. While this chapter doesn’t go into details on this type of structure, we at least want to note that kids are partially online because their teachers have directed them there.
Seeing the Differences between K-12 and Adult Online Education So what makes online education unique for younger learners? After all, it can’t be the same as online education for college students, can it? In this section we consider safety issues, extra parental involvement, synchronous meetings, and the need to work offline.
Safety concerns with children We won’t kid you: There are safety concerns when it comes to having children learn online. For starters, children tend to trust anyone and may not have the same sense of boundaries that adults do. Plus, there are creeps on the Internet who prey on children. In the interest of avoiding hysteria, we want to frame some of these concerns with the positive solutions that online schools have put in place:
Online education must be supervised by adults. In the next section, we discuss enhanced parental involvement, and one of the primary reasons for this is to monitor what children do online, where they go, and with whom they communicate. ✓ Online programs must be password-protected with limited access. Institutions establish protocols so that only the students and their adult supervisors can log in to the learning space. Coursework is conducted within that space so that it isn’t necessary for a child to interact with anyone else online. (Chapter 3 introduces the basics of password protection.) ✓ Educators who work with children online must pass stringent background checks. In the same way that teachers in brick-and-mortar schools must be blemish-free, online institutions ensure that their faculty are likewise squeaky clean.
Aside from addressing adults who prey on children, anyone with children online must also be aware of cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullying is the act of a child embarrassing, threatening, or harassing another child through online tools such as e-mail, instant messaging, social networks, and public discussion forums. With adult learners, the same behavior is possible and disconcerting, but children need to be afforded special protection. (As soon as adults become involved, the language changes to cyber-stalking or cyber-harassment.) Schools help children understand what is acceptable communication with their classmates and encourage those who experience bullying to report it swiftly. Policies and procedures guide schools in addressing and adjudicating offenders.
If your child decides to study online, here are some pointers to keep in mind:
✓ Beware false identities. One form of cyber-bullying is tricking a person. A student may believe she is communicating with a friend, when in fact it’s a false identity. Help your child discern when and what to disclose online. Personal information should be off-limits. ✓ Monitor social networking. It’s natural for classmates to form interpersonal relationships online. Your student may want to communicate with her classmates through e-mail or social networking spaces such as MySpace. However, these activities should be monitored by an adult. In other words, if your kid has a MySpace account, make sure you can see what’s going on. ✓ Report inappropriate activity. If another child posts embarrassing or harassing statements or images, report this to the school officials immediately. It may be out of the range of their ability to discipline, but noting the behavior can have a significant impact on stopping it. Then again, online schools know the types of behaviors that should be further reported to the police. For example, consider reporting to the police if personal information is involved in a threat against your child.
You may hesitate, thinking that the incident is minor, but it’s best to let the police sort it out. Don’t immediately delete the offending messages. The authorities may need to see them. Whatever you do, don’t retaliate with the same kinds of threats or harmful messages. Getting involved in a verbal tit-for-tat will only result in your child being accused of being a cyber-bully. Teach your child to walk away from the computer and cool down before reporting such an incident. ✓ Block bullies. By all means, block communication with cyber bullies. E-mail programs and instant message software such as Yahoo Messenger allow you to do this.
For more information about cyber-bullying, consult one of these sites: Stop Cyberbullying at http://www.stopcyberbullying.org or the National Crime Prevention Council site on cyber-bullying at http://www.ncpc.org/cyberbullying.
Enhanced parental involvement In traditional schools, parent-teacher communication may be hit or miss. For example, coauthor Susan finds out her daughter’s academic progress by checking a backpack. If her daughter forgets to bring home a science test, Susan has no way of knowing her cherub’s grade. (This is changing somewhat in traditional education via parental access to electronic grade books.)
Parental involvement is completely different with virtual schools. If you follow any of the virtual school links, you will quickly note that every institution requires greater parental involvement than traditional schools. Parents have access to everything: grades, feedback, and lessons. Adults who supervise at home are given various monikers by online schools — parent/guardian, home facilitator, and onsite instructional support, to name a few — but their roles are the same. The need for enhanced parental support stems from the age of the learner:
✓ Because most information is delivered by way of text online, the only way to survive in an online course is to read. That’s impossible for the average six-year-old! Adults serve as readers. ✓ Few children are as self-motivated and disciplined as they need to be for online learning. Adults serve as watchdogs and taskmasters. ✓ Because an online teacher may not see the whole family situation, routine communication becomes more important. Teachers schedule weekly or monthly communication with parents or supervisors, depending on the age of the learner and the structure of the school.
Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School has an interesting way of communicating parental expectations in its course catalog. It tells parents how much time and effort should go into their supporting role based on the grade level of the learner. For example, home facilitators with children in 2nd grade are expected to assist the child 90 to 100 percent of the time that the child is working on material. In other words, if you have a 2nd-grader, you’ll probably need to teach the material and watch your child do assigned tasks. You can’t expect a 7-year-old to read the computer screen and know what to do independently. As the child progresses academically, the amount of assistance decreases. By the time a student is in 12th grade and takes more ownership of the learning process, the adult shouldn’t be active more than 1 to 10 percent of the time and not at all instructionally. Instead, the adult’s role shifts toward holding the student accountable while continuing to provide motivation and support.
Any decent virtual school for kids requires parental involvement! Schools tell you this through some of the main links on their Web pages, for example, a “Parents” tab or a link to parental involvement. It shouldn’t be a secret! If it seems obscure, look at another school.
More real-time opportunities The world of online education for children is more synchronous than their adult counterpart’s experience (in other words, it takes place in real time more frequently). Students may be expected to participate in online meetings daily, weekly, or monthly. These synchronous meetings with instructors and other students reinforce the subject matter, build strong community bonds, and generally keep learners on task. Even schools that follow a self-paced model for curriculum usually back up their courses with regular synchronous meetings.
Synchronous meetings typically use Web-conferencing software (which we describe in Chapter 12) and call together multiple students in a class. These meetings can be a lot of fun! The teacher may present new information or reinforce what the students are studying. She can ask and answer questions about content or assignments. Perhaps the greatest value of the synchronous meetings is the feeling of interpersonal connection between the student and teacher, which is still very important in virtual education for children. Figure 16-1 shows what a synchronous interface may look like for an online K-12 course.
Don’t forget that the telephone is a synchronous tool, too! Teachers often call students to monitor progress and talk about what’s happening in class.
The need to work offline Surprisingly, not all online education happens online. Although adults can work offline (as we explain in Chapter 11), such work is especially important for younger learners. Young learners need time away from the computer to accomplish academic tasks that involve the following:
✓ Textbooks and workbooks. Can you imagine learning to print numbers without having a pencil and paper in hand? Some early academic tasks have to be done away from the computer screen. Further, at the point when children learn to read for information (around 4th grade), they begin to access materials like books and periodicals offline. Almost every virtual school uses textbooks. Flashy media may be available online to explain concepts, but online education for young learners also involves print materials. ✓ Old fashioned, hands-on learning. Curricula for young learners includes hands-on opportunities to experiment with concepts. For example, if a child is in an Earth science class, she may be provided rock samples to examine and evaluate. Or, she may be asked to collect leaf samples for a botany unit. Exploring one’s natural curiosity is part of learning, and good online curricula requires students to go out in the world and find these key relationships.
When you’re researching online schools, ask how much learning occurs online versus offline. If a program seems especially off-balance with no adequate explanation, consider looking at a different school. Kids need balance.
What? No diploma? You may be surprised to learn that students who complete an academic program in a virtual high school may not earn a high school diploma, even though they take the same courses as their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Instead, they take the test for General Educational Development (GED) test to earn a diploma or certificate. Homeschooling families are very familiar with this process and have a long-standing practice of documenting their children’s academic progress on an annual basis through portfolios that show how their child is progressing and provide examples of their work. When it comes time to apply for colleges, a homeschooled or virtual schooled student takes the same entrance exams (ACT or SAT) as any other student, and submits her portfolio along with a list of courses completed.
Checking Out Different Kinds of Virtual Schools for Kids and Teens If online education interests you or your child, how do you go about finding a suitable program? This section sorts through the variety of programs available for families who want to learn online. A survey of existing programs reveals common structures, whether state-funded or private.
State-funded schools Many states have state-funded online schools. In the following sections, we explain the basics on how these schools work and describe a classic example of a state-funded school. We also touch on outsourced instruction and charter schools.
Looking for a virtual school in your state? We know of two methods: use your favorite search engine and search for “virtual high schools in [your state]” or visit http://distancelearn.about.com/od/virtualhighschools/ Online_High_School.htm.
The basics on how state-funded schools work Before we get too far into how the state-funded schools work, we need to clarify that there are two general types:
✓ Schools that are publicly funded and open to all residents: These schools may offer complete diplomas or only a few courses, and are generally accredited. These public schools are usually linked to a state’s
department of education, and therefore follow the state mandates as to what to teach. However, they may be outsourced and run by a major education provider, such as the K-12 company. ✓ Charter schools: These schools are also paid for by the government, but are a little more experimental in nature. They often target a specific subject or group of students, such as technology, math, or performing arts. Many times, charter schools are also directly linked to a public school district and enrollment may only be available to residents in that district.
In both types of state-funded schools, there are state standards that must be followed. What a child learns in 11th-grade English, for example, should be fairly consistent whether she sits in West High or her virtual campus. It’s the how that may vary when we consider online education.
Online instruction in a publicly funded school often blends workbook/reading time with viewing and discussion online. The student accesses lessons online, completes a good deal of work offline, and then logs back in to submit assignments. Older students are often required to discuss ideas with their peers via discussion boards. There are usually opportunities for live or synchronous interaction with the teacher, too. Parents monitor progress and communicate frequently with the instructor.
So what should parents ask if they’re looking at this kind of schooling for their child?
✓ If this is publicly funded, who is eligible? ✓ How closely aligned to state standards is the curriculum? What courses are available? ✓ What are the qualifications of teachers? Is the instruction provided by local teachers, or is this outsourced to a national company? The quality may be no different; you just may be curious as to where the teacher is coming from. ✓ What happens on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis? What kind of calendar would we follow? Can my child complete classes early or take more time if needed? ✓ In what ways are parents involved? What expectations should they have about communicating with teachers?
Understanding curricula and state mandates What children learn in school is often determined at the state level according to mandated standards. For example, if you live in Montana, Montana Content Standards and Performance Descriptors tell you that all students will be able to “reflect upon their literary experiences and purposefully select from a range of works.” The performance descriptors then break each standard down into a more meaningful explanation according to age level, so teachers understand what is expected by the end of fourth grade versus eighth grade, and so on. Teachers use this information to plan lessons and to select curricula that match the state standards. Curricula is a fancy term for what is taught, including the textbooks and instructional materials. For example, if you’re the person in charge of getting kids to “reflect upon their literary experiences and purposefully select from a range of works,” you select a textbook and materials that help you achieve that purpose. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) asks states to consider the role of technology in their state-mandated
curricula. ISTE’s National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) suggest that educators should get students “to demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology,” for example. While the NETS technology standards are not mandated, if you put them together with the state standards, you can see how online education may be a solution. Using the previous Montana example, an online educator could get students to reflect on their literary experiences and choices through online discussion boards. In 2006, Michigan rattled the education chains by passing legislation requiring high school students to take at least one online learning course or participate in an online learning experience prior to graduation. While not all states have followed with legislated mandates, the idea that schools should prepare students for a technologically rich future is unquestionable.
state-funded school. In some states, students receive laptops or desktop computers along with textbooks and workbooks. Some even offer stipends to help pay for Internet service if it’s deemed necessary based on financial need and if the online program meets the student’s academic goals.
You may wonder about the instructors for virtual schools. Virtual instructors for accredited schools must be certified teachers. They are real educators and have the same academic credentials as Mrs. Smith at the local public school. Some teachers may also be nationally board certified, and in quality programs, all will have received significant and ongoing instruction in how to teach online. Some schools also have robust professional development programs that focus not only on specific strategies for online teaching but also on researched-based teaching methods in general.
A classic example: The Florida Virtual School Perhaps the best-known and longest running (since 1997!) online school is the Florida Virtual School (FLVS) at http://www.flvs.net/. Any child whose parents are residents of the state of Florida can take classes through FLVS for free. This includes homeschooled kids who are registered with their school district. In 2007-08, FLVS served more than 63,000 kids online. Those students successfully completed more than 137,000 single-semester credits online.
Students at FLVS select courses from a standard curriculum that closely follows state standards. For example, the curriculum includes four levels of high school English along with two Advanced Placement English courses. Students earn the same half-credit per semester per course that students in traditional schools earn.
Students can work at varying pace options, from accelerated (fast) to extended (slow). Even within a given pace option, students can speed up or slow down as needed, depending on how well they’re grasping the material. While pacing varies, students are by no means working on their own. Teachers are proactively involved in their day-to-day learning through assessment feedback, discussions, phone calls, e-mail, chats, and more. Students may also communicate with one another and with teachers through discussion boards and synchronous meetings online. The blending of asynchronous and synchronous learning works effectively for most learners.
A typical online course at FLVS includes some sort of multimedia presentation, rich in visuals. The method of presentation engages young learners who bring sophisticated expectations to learning (see Figure 16-2 for an example). It has to look good, be relevant, and contain a fun factor. As the student works through a lesson, she communicates with the instructor or her fellow students either through discussion boards or synchronous meetings like Webinars or chat sessions.
Outsourced instruction and charter schools Other states have programs similar to FLVS’s for their students, but they may outsource the instruction instead of having dedicated state schools. For example, Arizona provides free online opportunities for children registered with a school district. However, Arizona’s courses are outsourced to the K12 company (http://k12.com), a proprietary group that develops and sells curricula. Like FLVS’s courses, K12’s courses are self-paced and include media. Here, the difference is simply in who develops the courses. The quality of instruction and expertise of their teachers is consistent.
In some states, charter schools deliver online courses to their students. A charter school is a publicly funded alternative to traditional school. Charter schools are often started by concerned parents or community groups and target a problem believed to be unaddressed through traditional means. In virtual terms, state charter schools are smaller online schools. For example, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania each operate several charter online schools.
Each of these schools is open to any resident of that state, regardless of proximity to the home office.
Because charter schools are smaller in scale, they may differ in curriculum. For example, in Wisconsin, more than one of the charter schools use K12’s curricula. In contrast to using proprietary curricula, Pennsylvania’s Leadership Charter School (PALCS) at http://www.palcs.org/ uses curricula developed by individual teachers. Drawing from resources available in traditional print and publishers of online media, instructors customize lessons according to grade and state standards. This results in a highly personalized method of instruction. Like the other programs, PALCS’s program blends asynchronous and synchronous methods. The students receive a list of tasks to be completed by the end of the quarter and are also encouraged to meet routinely in synchronous sessions with the teacher.
Some virtual schools are outsourced. The state subscribes to the services of a large provider. In many cases, this works to your advantage because you’re tied to a vast network of resources and personnel. However, it’s worth asking about so you feel comfortable that your child’s educational program matches your state’s standards and expected curriculum.
Private online schools If a state doesn’t have a publicly funded virtual school, or you want to look for alternatives, private school is an option. Private virtual schools operate the same way the public schools do. With a combination of self-paced and instructor-led lessons, rich interactive media, and routine synchronous meetings, the public/private debate has little to do with qualitative difference in education and everything to do with funding bases! As long as you’re willing to pay the tuition, it doesn’t matter what state you live in.
A quick online search yields many online schools, but what should you consider in decision making? Following are some guidelines:
✓ Make sure the program is accredited. This should be an obvious notation on the school’s Web site. Two major accrediting agencies are the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Commission on International and TransRegional Accreditation (CITA). (See Chapter 5 for more information about accreditation.) ✓ Ask about the school’s history and experience. When it comes to online education and your child, you want to know the designers and teachers have done this long enough to be confident it works! The same questions we mention earlier about the quality of teachers, curriculum, and so on apply to these schools, too! ✓ Recognize that sometimes size is an advantage. One of the powerhouses in private online high schools, for example, is Insight Schools at http://www.insightschools.net. Insight Schools is owned by the same parent company as University of Phoenix, the Apollo Group. As such, Insight can draw on the experience and resources of the behemoth university. Your child has access to research-based curriculum and best practices in instruction. ✓ Ask about the school’s courseware. Was it developed in-house? If so, is it aligned to state standards? How interactive is it? Ask to see a demo. You want to see a course that is highly visual, easy to navigate, filled with interaction, and full of options as to how students can “show what they know.” Also find out how often the school’s courseware is updated. Online courses should be updated regularly — that’s part of the beauty of being online! ✓ Ask about teacher certification and training. Choose a program that supports instruction by providing training specifically in online education.
✓ Find out what the face-to-face requirements are, and be sure you can meet them. It’s okay if there are no face-to-face requirements, but you should look for a program that strives to at least offer the opportunity for such communication. ✓ Look for a program that offers a healthy combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities.
If you homeschool for religious reasons, you may prefer a curriculum that fits your beliefs. Online programs are available, such as that of The Morningstar Academy at http://www.themorningstaracademy.org/. However, as you shop around for an online school, exercise the same caution we mention in the preceding list regarding accreditation and experience.
Going through the K-12 Enrollment Process If you decide that online education is right for your child, how do you sign up? This section details how you can find courses to meet your child’s needs, confirm their credits, and be sure they transfer as you need them.
Applying for an online K-12 school isn’t much different from what we describe in Chapters 4, 5, and 6 for adults. You learn about the school and program online, ask for an application packet, and have the opportunity to talk with a real person about the school before committing to anything. The school typically wants records of prior work (similar to transcripts for adults). You’ll also need to provide a birth certificate and maybe immunization records (yes, even for some online schools!). Some schools, for example, the Illinois Virtual School, require that you get permission from your local school during the registration/application process before being approved to take online courses. In this same example, high school credit isn’t granted by the virtual school but can be approved by the student’s local high school.
What’s really consistent between K-12 and adult schools is that you look at accredited programs and ask questions! If you’re not getting the answers you need, move on!
Finding the right classes How often have you heard of a student reaching the end of his senior year and being short one course for graduation? The solution is typically summer school, but if that student has access to online resources, an alternative may be to make up missing coursework through online education.
in Chinese language, but whose parents can’t find the right course material? Online education can fill this type of curriculum gap.
By searching through what’s available in your state or looking at proprietary curricula (as we suggest earlier in this chapter), you may be able to identify online programs that can help your student make up missing courses to get back on track or take courses that aren’t otherwise available.
Like colleges, virtual schools maintain course catalogs. These catalogs describe course offerings and the associated credit a student earns for completion. Schools make these freely available to interested consumers, but if you don’t find a course catalog readily available online, be sure to call the contact number and request one.
Virtual schools are also available for children who need to complete all of the classes online. That’s when you must read through the school’s Web site to look for “full-curriculum” or “full-service” leading to a diploma. As you might expect, you want to select an accredited school. Trust us, there are a lot of opportunities for earning a diploma online.
Confirming credits before taking classes We mention credit several times in this chapter, and perhaps we should clarify what that means. American institutions “count” credit according to the Carnegie system, a well-established and accepted system for higher education and K-12. High school credit is counted in full or half units according to how long a student is in class — literally the time the student sits in her seat!
A full unit of credit is equivalent to 120 hours of contact time with an instructor, so in a traditional school where English class meets for 50 minutes five days a week, it takes roughly a year to earn a credit. (Schools factor in vacation days.) A semester-long course such as an elective in mythology may earn half a credit.
Obviously, this credit-counting method is antiquated for online education, but it’s still the system in use. Virtual schools award the same credit as their brick-and-mortar counterparts by considering how long a student is engaged in learning activities (online or offline) and the amount of time the student is expected to be in communication with faculty or other students.
Before registering for any online course, be sure to confirm how many credits that course will award upon completion. How many credits a course awards is listed in the curriculum (for example, 3rd-year English at the high school level earns one credit). The school’s admissions and registration personnel can verify this information, and it should be completely transparent to you as the consumer. You want to be sure that you’re signing up for a course that counts toward the academic goal!
Understanding articulation agreements An articulation agreement is a formal plan that details what courses will be accepted at which schools and under what circumstances. Suppose your child is gifted and wants to take an Advanced Placement English course that earns dual credit for college and isn’t available at your local rural high school. You find that this exact course is available for free through a charter school elsewhere in your state. It would be easy to assume your child could enroll in that charter school and have the credit count toward graduation at your local school. Don’t make that assumption! Before you go any further, ask both schools about the articulation agreement so you know the credit will count. The registrar at either school is the keeper of these documents.
Checking articulation agreements is especially important for high school juniors and seniors who want to earn dual credit. Not only must you verify that the brick-and-mortar high school will accept the online credit, but you also need to make sure the future college will honor the credit, as well. We don’t want to make it sound as if this is problematic, but the adage “better safe than sorry” comes to mind.
Can you go to high school as an adult? If you didn’t earn a high school diploma in a traditional fashion and now want to make up the difference, you can achieve this online. However, the virtual schools for traditional children that we discuss in this chapter, such as publicly funded charter schools, cannot accept you. Because they are state-funded, provisions are written into their charters only allowing students up to a certain age to enroll. There are, however, online schools available for adults to complete high school study. Mostly you want to obtain the background knowledge necessary to take the General Educational Diploma (GED) test. Credit is not as important as passing the test. Start by contacting your state board of education to see whether an online program is available for residents. If not, run a quick search of online education for GED, and you’ll find plenty of programs and services. Be sure to dig deep to find the kind of program that suits your needs.