What is Berks Online Learning?
Berks Online Learning (BOL) 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 at home at their own pace.
Who can enroll in courses through Berks Online Learning?
With the approval of school personnel, students who are residents of participating Berks County school districts may enroll in courses with Berks Online Learning.
Why would a student choose to enroll in BOL?
Students participate in Berks Online Learning courses for varied reasons. First, we offer a wide array of course offerings that accommodate most students' academic needs. Because of the flexibility of the program, courses through BOL suit students with varied responsibilities, such as working students, students who have become parents, and students involved in pre-professional extracurricular activities.
Online courses also benefit students who need a more challenging curriculum or more individualized curricular plan. Sometimes the traditional educational system does not suit all students, and online courses offer opportunities that a brick and mortar setting may not be able to provide. Another cited reason for enrolling students in BOL is because parents want to have more control over the student's education; Berks Online Learning allows parents to remain actively involved in the delivery and schedule of instruction. Whatever the reason to take courses through Berks Online Learning, students have the opportunity to become prepared for life after graduation, whether they are entering the workforce or going onto post-secondary studies. In addition, students who participate in the BOL program will be prepared to function effectively in an ever-changing technological society.
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. Part-time students are responsible for having their own computer to use at home or at school and will not receive an Internet stipend.
What 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 in Berks Online Learning.
What are the benefits to enrolling my child in Berks Online Learning?
The benefits of enrolling a child into Berks Online Learning, as opposed to a cyber charter school, are extensive. A few of the important benefits are: 1) flexible scheduling; 2) participation in local school district extra-curricular activities and school-sponsored events; 3) local support; 4) BCIU IT technical support; and 5) instructional support offered by the school district. In addition, students graduate with a home district diploma. With local districts’ consistently high rankings at the state and local levels, a district diploma is valuable in the college admission process.
How do I enroll my child in Berks Online Learning?
When a student wants to enroll in Berks Online Learning online courses, the student or family member needs to contact the school counselor or school liaison to begin the process. The school representative is then responsible for completing the online enrollment form with relevant student information and recommends the appropriate courses to ensure all graduation requirements are fulfilled. The student is then contacted by a BOL program specialist who will schedule the orientation and complete the enrollment process. Once BCIU receives the enrollment form from the school, we can outfit the student with the necessary equipment and have the student ready to begin courses within a week.
When can a student enroll in courses?
We accept enrollments at any time during the year, although there may be exceptions for some courses.
How is attendance monitored?
Each student is expected to log into his/her coursework five days a week, at whatever times and on whatever 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 then contact the school liaison with any attendance concerns and our plan for following up with the family.
What is the cost of courses through Berks Online Learning?
The cost of the online courses and necessary equipment are paid by the school district, so there is no cost to parents.
Are there credit recovery options available?
Yes, we offer both credit recovery courses for 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 with school district personnel to keep track of and monitor the progress of students. We send weekly progress reports to the building liaison designated by the school. When students are not keeping up with work or doing poorly in a 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?
Parents will be able to access their child’s grades via the student online account at any time. Some vendors provide a parent portal for parents to log into to view grades and progress. Other vendors offer a reporting option where a BOL staff member will send parents bi-weekly reports on students’ 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 BOL families informed.
Will Berks Online Learning students be prepared for graduation and post-secondary life?
Berks Online Learning embraces the philosophy that online courses should be as rigorous as those taken in the 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 can receive career and college counseling through their local school district.
Can accommodations be met for students that are English Language Learners or who have IEPs?
The online courses already have built in flexibility, adaptations such as text-to-speech, unlimited time on tests, translation features, and vocabulary help. We contract with local districts to meet the needs and accommodations outlined by a student’s IEP. The student must be monitored by a case manager assigned by the school to ensure that the student's needs are being met. The local school's special education staff would develop any needed IEP and create a learning plan that meets the student’s 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 exceeding 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. We are actively involved in meeting all student and district needs.
How does BOL support gifted and talented students?
Online courses through BOL are an exceptional choice for gifted students because they offer the ability for students to move through course material at an accelerated pace, attempt more difficult coursework, and offer access to challenging courses that may not be available in local school districts.
Does BOL offer courses with varying difficulty levels?
BOL courses are rigorous and include remedial- and honors-level courses. AP 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.