More questions? Please contact us!
Connie Godfrey, BHOLC Coordinator
- What is the Black Hills Online Learning Community?
Black Hills Online Learning Community is an online education program using an innovative educational model to provide students with the best learning experience possible. Our program is administered by Technology and Innovation in Education (TIE), which is a subsidiary of the Black Hills Special Services Cooperative, in cooperation with participating public schools in South Dakota.
- What does it cost to attend the Black Hills Online Learning Community?
Nothing. The Community program is funded through partnerships with South Dakota public schools.
*If a student is not enrolled in a school district and chooses to purchase the curriculum outright, the cost is $3250 for a FTE (full time enrollment).
- Who is eligible to attend the Black Hills Online Learning Community?
Students who are eligible to attend grades K-12. Homeschoolers, hospital homebound students, adjudicated youth, athletes, or working students are typical participants. All students must be legal South Dakota residents.
- Are students in the Black Hills Online Learning Community considered home-schooled?
No. Community students are full time public school students who are receiving their instruction differently. Participating families do not need to complete the home school application.
- Does the Black Hills Online Learning Community provide computers or Internet service to students?
No. Families are responsible for providing the equipment and internet service in order to access the online curriculum.
- Can students be dual-enrolled in the Community and their resident school?
This is up to each district. Each will have its own regulations and eligibility requirements.
- How does the Black Hills Online Learning Community work?
Students in grades K-8 in the K12 program login to the k12.com site to get their daily lessons, then complete those lessons through a combination of online (30%) and offline (70%) activities. Students in grade 6-12 in the FuelEd program login to the aventalearning.com site to access their fully online courses. Supervision is done on site by the learning coach (parent/guardian), and off site virtually by our online teachers, mentor, and/or enrollment coordinator. Student data may also be accessed by the local school district representative for state reporting purposes.
- What courses are offered by the Black Hills Online Learning Community?
Students in grades K-8 are required to take language arts, mathematics, science, and history as their full-time curriculum. Students in grades 9-12 are required to take 5-7 credits based on their local school district expectations. Additional courses, if desired, are available for purchase.The K12 curriculum is designed to meet the Common Core and state content standards. These are the same standards used by all public schools in South Dakota. K12.com was selected for their expertise and experience in virtual school programs over the past 12 years across the country.The K12 curriculum is a combination of both offline and online components. Students in grades K-2 do about 80% of their work offline, while grades 3-6 do about 60% offline. Offline components consist of textbooks, workbooks, and activities such as projects and experiments. Materials for offline expectations are provided at no additional cost and are shipped to each family directly from k12.com. Additional supplies such as pencils, paper, glue, etc., are minimal and are posted in the Learning Coach information in advance of the lesson(s) for which they are needed so families can plan ahead.
The FuelEd curriculum is considered fully online, therefore offline materials are not included although some resources may be required to complete the coursework.
- Who teaches the courses?
The primary instructor for each student in grades K-8 in the K12 program is his or her learning coach, usually a parent or guardian. Learning coaches are assisted by a highly qualified South Dakota certified teacher. The teacher will connect with students at least once per month using an online conferencing tool. The teacher to student ratio is approximately 1:60. This may seem high, but remember that each student also has a learning coach, and the learning coach to student ratio is usually 1:1. Learning coaches can also request additional assistance from the teacher at any time.The primary instructor for each student in grades 6-12 in the FuelEd program is a highly qualified certified teacher for each content area. Students are also assisted by a mentor to ensure they are making progress and remaining engaged with their coursework.The parent plays a crucial role in the learning process as the “Learning Coach”. Parents work with their students, log attendance data and may grade actual assignments in the system. Parents will liaise with the online teacher to discuss best practices and how to help their student succeed. The K12 program follows a “mastery-based” learning approach where students need to pass each unit with a 80% (the co-op can set the threshold) before moving on, while the FuelEd program provides a more traditional percentage based achievement score based on assessments.
- How is my student placed in a course? What assessments are required?
The Black Hills Online Learning Community places students according to their current grade level. Students are also given assessments developed by Scantron and are administered online each fall and spring.Community students will be expected to participate in all assessments required by the South Dakota Department of Education. This includes traveling to test on site according to the local school districts testing schedule.
- What services are offered for special education students?
If the student has an individualized education program (IEP), the community team will work with the district’s special education team to determine how services may be provided. Our ability to accommodate special needs students will depend on the IEP for that student, and is somewhat limited as we do not have a special education teacher on staff at this time.
- Can Community students participate in other traditional school activities?
Yes, we allow and encourage parents and students to take advantage of after-school programs, school libraries, and computer labs. Enrollment in these campus classes would depend upon availability and each school district’s policies.
- What is the time requirement?
Our school year is September through May. Students are expected to meet the time requirements as set forth by the South Dakota Department of Education (Kindergarten: 437.5 hours, Grades 1-3: 875 hours, and Grades 4-12: 962.5 hours). However, there is not a specific daily schedule for the Community. Students are expected to move through their coursework in the same manner as if they were attending their local school, even though their overall schedule might be more flexible. Student progress through coursework is carefully monitored by the Community and it is expected that student attendance will be noted by the learning coach in the k12.com online school system.
- Our family travels so we want to participate in k12 part of the year and attend school on site part of the year. Will this work for us?
Yes. You need to have your student enrolled in the public school by the registration deadline in September. Then, just let us know your schedule and we can make arrangements for your materials and courses.
More questions? Please contact us!