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Old 12-09-2018, 12:36 AM
Status: "Enjoying the the beauty of the PNW" (set 10 days ago)
 
Location: Vancouver, WA
5,506 posts, read 12,371,032 times
Reputation: 5832

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Hello,

We currently homeschool our three teenagers. Our oldest is a high school senior attending community college almost exclusively this year similar to RunningStart. We also go through a public charter called Ocean Grove for our middle daughter which is technically public school 'at home.' They provide a credentialed teacher we meet with regularly who reviews our curriculum along with work samples. The program provides ~$3000 per student per year for books, materials, online classes, music lessons, PE, etc...

It sounds like WA may have similar options only they go by different names following their own state laws/regulations. I've read a bit about Alternative Learning Programs (ALE) / Parent Partnership Programs (PPP) which have 'some' similarities. Though it appears there are also some significant differences as well. This is what I've noticed so far and please correct me if I'm missing something. There seems to be two primary ALE/PPP options:

1. ALE/PPP through the local school district which is basically an extension of that district but at home - like distance learning. However, there is also a physical campus where students take certain classes. This may vary a bit by district. For example, Vancouver Home Connection has courses where students attend 1-3 times per week along with at home assignments.

2. ALE/PPP via an online 'for profit' accredited school, the largest are through K12 Inc. such as Washington Virtual Academy. These have been getting some very mixed reviews showing sub-par outcomes post graduation. We don't really care the K-12 curriculum nor being limited to a more rigid program like that.

3. Then Home Based Instruction with the option of taking some public classes part-time like band, etc... That one seems fairly straitforward and also the only one which is truly homeschooling based upon the state's legal definition.

4. RunningStart for high school juniors and seniors who can attend community college full-time or part-time through the umbrella public high school.

5. Charter schools with specialized focus such as Vancouver School of Arts and Academics or Project Based Learning (PBL).

Of course there is the traditional public school which we're looking at as well. But as a homeschool family we would like consider all of our options. Our middle daughter has expressed interest in attending a local public school which we're actually considering for both, possibly starting part-time.

Thanks,
Derek

Last edited by MtnSurfer; 12-09-2018 at 01:09 AM..
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Old 12-09-2018, 10:59 AM
 
Location: WA
2,925 posts, read 4,008,649 times
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Couple of corrections.

#5. Schools like Vancouver School of the Arts and Project Based Learning schools in Camas are not charter schools. They are alternative or magnet schools administered directly by the school districts. The laws in WA are not friendly to charter schools so there are very few of them. Which is generally a good thing in my opinion. I encountered a lot of very sketchy fly-by-night charter schools in Texas that were run by grifters looking to extract money out of the system.

Also I'm not sure if you mentioned this exactly. But there are several school districts in WA that run online schools. Spokane and Federal Way are two of them. Tuition is free for WA students during the regular school year but you pay some tuition for summer sessions. They offer a lot of the core classes required by the state. With any online academy you need to make certain that it is accredited with the state or the credits won't meet state graduation requirements. Approved Online Course Providers My daughter took an online geometry class through the Federal Way Internet Academy last summer so that she could skip up to Algebra 2 her sophomore year. It cost a couple hundred dollars. I don't remember the exact amount. She had been incorrectly placed in a lower math class when we moved here when she was in middle school and I didn't catch it. If you are doing home schooling and want to supplement this is one option. From my limited observations, it looks like all the online schools use the same basic online curriculum put out by just one or two software firms. I'm not sure how many there are. But the curriculum and online interfaces are pretty sophisticated so it isn't something being developed by districts or schools at the local level. They are just buying turn-key curriculum packages. So it probably doesn't make much difference which online academy you would use as long as it is legit and accredited.

In our case we were using online school as summer school. She could have taken summer school math through her district but that would have required physically attending the HS for the summer session and we were doing some traveling. She was able to do all her online classes from the road using her chromebook.

Also be aware that some of the popular alternative programs like the Vancouver School of the Arts and the Camas PBL program have waiting lists. Our next door neighbors children are in the Camas PBL middle school program and love it. Dad is a high level executive with a local financial firm and they are pretty high-achieving types. So based on my sample size of 1, it seems like there are bright kids with motiviated parents there. I don't know if you have to already be living in and registered in the district to get on the wait lists. If I was running the programs, that is what I would require. But if you are planning to move here and interested in one of the popular magnet schools I would definitely look into getting on the wait lists. My neighbors did not find out they were at the top of the wait list until a few days before school started and so switched to the PBL campus right before the start of school. I'm guessing students ahead of them on the list either moved away or dropped out of the program at the last minute. I have no idea how they do it in other districts.

When I was teaching locally (I'm not anymore) I had the occasional home school student show up just to take high school lab science classes like biology and chemistry. The district was pretty accommodating of that.

You didn't ask for advice, but mine would be to enroll your kids in the local schools, at least at the HS level and then supplement as you see fit with alternative programs to the extent that the local schools are not meeting your needs. That way your kids at least walk away with a degree from the local HS and will have more friends and acquantances from the local community, even if they don't spend much time on campus because they are busy doing running start or online programs or whatever alternative programs you want. I guess there are two different mindsets here. You can start with the default being the homeschool route and then pick and choose some district programs and classes to supplement that. Or you can start with the default being the public school and then pick and choose alternative outside programs to supplement that. I'm of the latter mindset I guess. I think there is some value in making sure that your kids at least meet the standard graduation requirements for the state which are pretty reasonable here in WA and not as lengthy or detailed as in some other states.

I know there are people here like Stealth who are of the opposite mindset. And that's fine. As long as it's for the kids and not the parents. I mainly get uncomfortable with those who homeschool for narrow religious reasons. I have relatives in other states who are doing that and the kids end up being unreasonably sheltered and stunted in their education and have their parent's religious choices forced onto them before they are old enough to decide for themselves. But I guess that is the whole point.

Last edited by texasdiver; 12-09-2018 at 11:20 AM..
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Old 12-09-2018, 05:07 PM
Status: "Enjoying the the beauty of the PNW" (set 10 days ago)
 
Location: Vancouver, WA
5,506 posts, read 12,371,032 times
Reputation: 5832
Thanks for the additional info regarding the online options. I'll take a look at those as well. Our kids currently take online math through an approved vendor with our charter school. We've been using online instruction for many years. So far, math has been the best subject for it. Physics worked out well with labs at home. We've worked with lots of different curriculum over the years. What we've found with online courses is that the instructor makes the biggest difference whether live or recorded.

Like Stealth, we've homeschooled first up until now and supplement as needed. However, as they get older the supplementation increases as they approach more advanced subjects. In CA we're allowed to start college as early as freshman year of HS. So that's been a fun way to explore subjects not normally available in public high schools or at home like Marine Biology, for example. Since WA doesn't allow college through RunningStart until junior year, we'll explore other options.

The great thing is there are lots of different approaches available. Although we probably fall more into the category of religious as opposed to purely secular, we actually use a wide variety of curriculum from many sources. We encourage them to look at things from a variety of perspectives to help form their views and understand there's more than one side to things. We really wanted the opportunity to tailor the education to the child whether an advanced learner or one that struggles in certain subject areas. It does provide a lot of opportunity and flexibility in that regard. The other part we wanted to avoid was the negative peer pressure which seems to peak in middle school. Lots of parent both secular and not explore other options for similar reasons. Our son is advanced in mathematics along with other STEM subjects and would not have gone as far as early through the public system. I think that's where RunningStart can help. Although the problem would be the younger years if kids have the aptitude to excel beyond their peers or standard courses taught at the schools. I'm a little concerned with our youngest for that reason since she's at least two years ahead in math at this stage.

That said, they both would enjoy being around other kids their own age more often. That part is a bit of a doubled edged sword I guess which comes with good and bad aspects. But I think we're willing to let them give it a try and see how things go. If they really dislike it they can always explore other options. I just don't want to go backwards academically in certain areas. So I'll definitely need to speak to each school about available options. That also adds a layer of complexity to the location we ultimately select for a home. I'll have at least two different school districts to speak with. Whereas in the past it really didn't matter.

Derek

Last edited by MtnSurfer; 12-09-2018 at 05:49 PM..
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Old 12-10-2018, 09:22 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,628 posts, read 39,998,659 times
Reputation: 23780
One of ours insisted on both (PS HS and RS.) That was fine as long as they completed their AA by HS grad date (which they did). Mine were all STEM grads.

There are some great 'extra' resources for home school pre-HS math and science in Clark County area. We (300 student HomeS group) hired retired science professors to do seminars and field trips.

These folks can help (Many are current / former teachers)
Clark County Home Educators - News & Events

Or.. get creative... My sis (Atlanta) entered a science Master's program (Emory Uni), and took her JR and HS homeschool kids to class. (They all end up in medical careers)
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Old 12-12-2018, 11:04 PM
Status: "Enjoying the the beauty of the PNW" (set 10 days ago)
 
Location: Vancouver, WA
5,506 posts, read 12,371,032 times
Reputation: 5832
Quote:
Originally Posted by StealthRabbit View Post
One of ours insisted on both (PS HS and RS.) That was fine as long as they completed their AA by HS grad date (which they did). Mine were all STEM grads.

There are some great 'extra' resources for home school pre-HS math and science in Clark County area. We (300 student HomeS group) hired retired science professors to do seminars and field trips.

These folks can help (Many are current / former teachers)
Clark County Home Educators - News & Events

Or.. get creative... My sis (Atlanta) entered a science Master's program (Emory Uni), and took her JR and HS homeschool kids to class. (They all end up in medical careers)
Thanks, Stealth. That's a great local resource for homeschooling in Clark County.

We're definitely exploring all the options. However, our middle daughter is talking about wanting to try public high school. We've still got some time to talk with her about these option before next fall. But we want her to decide since she'll be doing all the work and needs to take ownership of it. The youngest doesn't seem interested public school yet. She'll probably continue at home and watch big sister to see how things go.

Derek
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Old 12-13-2018, 03:19 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,628 posts, read 39,998,659 times
Reputation: 23780
Quote:
Originally Posted by MtnSurfer View Post
...

We're definitely exploring all the options. However, our middle daughter is talking about wanting to try public high school. We've still got some time to talk with her about these option before next fall. But we want her to decide since she'll be doing all the work and needs to take ownership of it. The youngest doesn't seem interested public school yet. She'll probably continue at home and watch big sister to see how things go.

Derek
Do consider that the RS test needs to be scheduled and taken months in advance. (she may want to do that for a few reasons, including keeping more options available).

My kids were apprehensive to RS and would not have taken the tests without guidance. Saved them each 2 yrs U tuition + they were available to the workforce 2 yrs before others + they had superb educational experiences and opportunities at Clark that would have not been possible in HS. (retired Military academy profs, multi cultural teachers and multi age students, mentoring non-English speaking adults, public service engagement and speaking)... then there is the 'pre-college academic and study habit' prep benefit. (I.e. becoming responsible for outcomes, rather than playing 'follow the leader' / sit around waiting for instruction / 'all-children-left-behind' (lowest denominator)).

RS is not perfect and not for everyone, but does have many unique opportunities / exposures.

Keep options available if possible (In case the transition to HS is a bad deal)

My DS and 3 Sis' transferred schools / states in HS (from CA) and they were all scared for life (various reasons, but all we prolonged issues and not so hot social experience in PS).

Being engaged in extra activities can help the transition a lot (sports experiences may not be so good), just depends on other students acceptance of strangers, as well as how your kids will be able to plot out their own space and success.

I'm sure your's will do fine. (SWWA is not the racial / demographic / social segregation that our location was during HS)
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