Find out what’s going on with online learning in Minnesota at the current college-level.
How Does Highschool Online Learning Work? Minnesota
At least the big Wisconsin building and the high school most nearby in Hudson might think about it. Minneapolis is to Minneapolis, Minn. Still others in the Minnesota Twin Cities area are high school online.
Minneapolis public schools have about 38,000 students. Almost half of the district’s students go online, either through its free education tech in partnership with Northstar, or its more expensive but free virtual school called PreTribus with 44,000 students.
What is high school online?
Oh, sure, high school students have for years been able to take summer school, and lessons at least through the spring and summer. Many take two online courses a semester. At current enrollment numbers, those two courses constitute 35% of the high school students in the state, and 58% of Minneapolis students take two courses online, at least one of which can be related to the required core curriculum. They can also take other classes outside of the core curriculum, and some colleges give credit for those classes.
“You have got a bunch of independent high schools,” Ramsey County Technical College will tell you.
Minnesota high schools do traditional classroom time as well, but a significant portion of the school day is now spent online, filling in the gaps between classroom time. That physical year is split into four parts, and called STEAM. STEM/science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are the main areas of focus, because those fields need the most teachers and students.
That’s not to say that there’s no academic work that you can’t take either offline or online, because there is. When students need to finish an area where no help is available in-person, they can sign up for an online class from someone such as an ESL teacher at the high school.
“I don’t know that your skills are tested online the way they are in the traditional classroom,” says Ellen Taube, who has taught in-person classes at Minneapolis-area high schools for more than a decade. “For instance, you can’t take an online science class to ensure a good science career.”
But some of that traditional work goes online, too. Teachers at some high schools, like Minneapolis High School of Design, will teach large online classes of 200 to 300 students. Those classes take up two-thirds to three-quarters of the time at the schools.
“It’s usually about 70% of the school day, and only 30% in the classroom,” says Glenn Carter, the school’s instructional coordinator. “It’s a good tool for students if they need to move ahead on a course at a point when there are things going on in their lives that are unpredictable.”
How do teachers grade these online classes?
Right now, students have to take all online classes as well as in the traditional school, and some must take both online and in-person classes. Students also have to meet all of their graduation requirements online.
For online grades, students write essays, summarize chapter summaries and then write five questions on them, usually using software. If they get a score of 80% or better, they can get a grade of 3 on online. For an online grade of 75% or less, they may be asked to repeat the session. In the first grade, that grade is three points. It’s leveled higher in higher grades.
So a student with a 70% assessment gets an online grade of a 3. A student who had 85% assignments gets a 10% online grade. That means a total score of around 4, at least until a student gets a perfect score.
Tamsa Ford, a freshman at Minneapolis High School of Design, says she’s been doing both online and in-person work. Still, she says her in-person work has always been her favorite.
“I do enjoy working alone, but I love working with people. With online classes, it’s just on a computer.”