Advancing personalized learning for homeschooling students with Visions In Education
A consistent commitment to student-led education
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the percent of households homeschooling their children rose to 11% by September 2020, more than doubling from 5.4% just six months earlier according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Among the many new independent study programs that have emerged to address the needs of families looking for alternative schooling options are tried-and-true programs like Visions In Education, which has spent over 20 years providing safe, flexible, and learner-centered programming to thousands of TK-12 students.
“Independent study is an alternative education program that addresses individual student needs and learning styles. The model allows students to complete their academics outside the traditional classroom setting.” (via EdSource)
Since 1999, Visions In Education has held true to their bold and important vision of “preparing each student to succeed in a rapidly changing world.” For the past 5 years, Outschool has been a proud partner of Visions In Education with our shared commitment to providing learners with the best personalized learning experiences.
“We partner with vendors who support or enhance our ability to offer more electives and enrichment programming. The attitude and overall messaging we want from our community partners is ‘hey, we’re in this together to support every student,” says Michael Brubaker, the Director of Operations at Visions In Education. Michael has worked at Visions for the past 16 years and homeschooled his own kids through Visions’ independent study program.
"The attitude and overall messaging we want from our community partners is ‘hey, we’re in this together to support every student"
Unlocking equitable access for students
Before Visions In Education partnered with Outschool, Visions’ students primarily received in-person enrichment, which was highly dependent on where the student lived. Visions In Education’s team began looking for virtual options to more equitably serve all families in their communities, especially at-risk youth who had lots of difficulty with transportation. Even with bus passes, students who were pregnant, supporting their families, or had other life circumstances needed more flexible options to participate in enrichment activities that fit their challenging schedules.
“Outschool was the first online provider we've ever used that provided such a large number of offerings for students and teachers to choose from. That’s what was so powerful – the ability to make offerings more equitable. We have a lot of areas that don’t have brick & mortar vendors nearby, so having Outschool be the one-stop-shop equivalent of thousands of virtual vendors opens up the world for a lot of folks,” shared Tom Tafoya, Visions’ Chief Operations Officer who has helped Visions In Education grow their impact for the past 17 years.
“Outschool was the first online provider we've ever used that provided such a large number of offerings for students and teachers to choose from. That’s what was so powerful – the ability to make offerings more equitable."
Learning and leading together
Outschool is now one of 700 vendors at Visions In Education, as they now serve over 7,000 students across Northern California. Enrollment in Outschool courses has consistently grown each year, from 287 vouchers in the 2017-18 school year to 1,969 vouchers in the 2020-21 school year. Outschool is excited to continue supporting Visions In Education to meet parents’ and kids’ needs for flexibility, safety and choice.
As Tom remarked, “Through Outschool’s partnership with Visions In Education, students can discover new interests and support their passions. Before Outschool, you could only do what your own teachers could do and what you could get to physically. Now, our path is really personalizing education with Outschool to create a set of experiences for students that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
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