What is Berks Online Learning?
Berks Online Learning provides online delivery of curriculum that allows students to be taught from home through instruction via the Internet and a computer. Students can work full or part time through online courses and work at home at their own pace.
Who can enroll in courses through Berks Online Learning?
Students who are residents of participating Berks County districts, with the approval of school personnel, may enroll in courses with Berks Online Learning. Student enrollment requires district approval. BOL does not enroll students via a parent request; the enrollment information must come from a district liaison.
What equipment is needed to participate in the program?
Students must have access to the Internet at home. All full-time students are given a laptop computer, Internet stipend, and a printer/scanner to access coursework. To help defray the cost of Internet, each household receives a $36/month Internet stipend.
Which grade levels are serviced through Berks Online Learning?
Students in grades K-12 who are residents of participating school districts in Berks County may enroll.
Which vendors offer online coursework to students through Berks Online Learning?
We use a number of vendors with varying helpful features in order to provide flexibility, support, and more support. We try to accommodate diverse student and school needs in order to provide the most effective and useful service possible. Our current vendors are APEX Learning, Aventa Learning, Edgenuity, and Lincoln Interactive. For more information about the courses these vendors offer please visit the course guide page.
How does a district determine which vendor(s) to use?
Different vendors provide different services for students, so choosing a vendor may depend on an individual student to decide which vendor should be utilized. Features such as synchronous learning, additional instructional support, cost, or steadfast deadlines could help dictate which program to use. Personnel from Berks Online Learning will help ask the appropriate questions to ensure the best fit. Please consult with a BOL program specialist to help make those decisions.
How do I enroll a student in Berks Online Learning?
The designated school liaison determines the courses that a student needs by consulting the student's transcripts, considering the school district's graduation requirements, and by consulting a BOL program specialist when necessary. The school liaison then fills out the online enrollment form by clicking here.
Should the school liaison have any questions about vendor selection, course options, or enrollment procedures, those questions can be directed to BOL at 610-898-8950. Once the online enrollment form is submitted, BOL contacts the student and takes care of all the details to get the student started in the program. Thereafter, the school liaison will receive weekly progress reports and will be contacted only when an issue arises that needs district-level action or decision making.
How is attendance monitored?
Each student is expected to log into his/her coursework five days a week, at whichever times and on whichever days are appropriate for that student. The program allows flexibility and autonomy for each student/family to decide what schedule works best for them. We will contact the school liaison with any attendance concerns and our action plan for following up with the family.
How is truancy handled?
We contact each family when there is an initial attendance concern. If the student continues the pattern of low attendance, we send the family a truancy warning letter and we send a copy of the letter to the school liaison. It is the responsibility of the school district to cite a student for a truancy violation. We do provide the school with the dates and pertinent documentation to support the truancy citation.
What is the cost of courses through Berks Online Learning?
Please consult a BOL program specialist for a current price list.
Are there credit recovery options available?
Yes, BOL offers credit recovery courses that available during the school year and summer school options.
Is the program accredited?
Yes, courses available through Berks Online Learning are aligned to the PA State Standards and Common Core State Standards and are taught by PA certified teachers.
How will a student’s progress be monitored?
Staff members from Berks Online Learning work in coordination with school district personnel to keep track of and monitor the progress of students. When students are not keeping up with their work or doing poorly in the course, both the building liaison and the parents are notified. The course percentage from each online course is sent to the district upon completion, and the district is responsible for designating a letter grade according to school district guidelines. Report card and transcript generation may vary from district to district.
How will a student’s progress be reported?
Some vendors will send the appointed school district personnel progress reports by email while others have reporting systems that districts can log-on to monitor grades and progress. Interim reports will be sent to students at the half-way point of each semester-based course (mid-November in the fall and mid-April in the spring) to notify parents of student progress and keep them informed.
Will Berks Online Learning students be prepared for graduation and life after high school?
Berks Online Learning embraces the philosophy that online courses should be as rigorous as those taken in school buildings. Most courses are designed to prepare online students for life after graduation. The program guidelines meet standard NCAA eligibility requirements. All credits earned through Berks Online Learning will be recorded as part of each high school student’s official school district transcript. Students may receive career and college counseling through their local school district.
How are accommodations for students with IEPs met?
Since BOL students are enrolled in their districts, it is the district’s responsibility to accommodate students with Individual Education Plans. That can be done by utilizing a special education teacher of record already employed by the district or by contracting with the Berks County Intermediate Unit or some other provider to provide case management and special education services relevant to the child and his or her program needs.
What is the role of the Berks Online Learning program specialists?
Berks Online Learning acts as an intermediary between the online vendors that provide the teachers/courses and school districts. We work to serve as an advocate for students and families and to provide current information to school district staff members. Our primary goal is to make sure each student is making progress and is meeting or excelling course expectations. We closely monitor student progress and address concerns as they arise by contacting the appropriate party whether it is parent, student, school counselor, online instructor, or other relevant person.
How does BOL support gifted and talented students?
Online courses through BOL can be an exceptional choice for gifted students because they present an opportunity for students to move through course material at an accelerated pace and allow them to attempt more difficult coursework. In addition, BOL offers access to challenging courses that are not available in local school districts.
Does BOL offer courses with varying difficulty levels?
BOL courses are rigorous and include remedial- and honors-level courses. Advanced placement courses are also available.
Are students required to take state-standardized tests?
Yes, all BOL students will be required to take the same state-mandated exams as their brick and mortar peers at their local school. This includes PSSAs in grades 3, 4, 5, 8, and 11, as well as the Keystone Exams. Typically a representative from the school contacts the BOL families to schedule and coordinate a time for students to take the standardized tests. We follow up by making the initial contact as a reminder and to gently remind families of the importance to be present for the assessments.
What are a district's responsibilities in collaborating with the BCIU to allow students to enroll in BOL online courses?
First, it is important for school districts to appoint two points of contact. BOL needs a central office liaison that can make programmatic and other important decisions regarding the program. We also need a school liaison with whom we may communicate on a more regular basis and to whom we may send the weekly progress reports.
Other responsibilities include making decisions about report cards, deadlines, incomplete work, and possible instructional support opportunities for BOL students. School districts are also responsible for ensuring that each graduating senior completes a graduation project and that computer hardware is retrieved from withdrawing students or graduating seniors.
We ask that districts make some decisions about the program at the initiation of the program; then we will handle most daily concerns and issues, take care of hardware issues, and notify school personnel of any outstanding issue that needs attention at a school level.