Rather than sitting through roll call every morning, students at iUniversity Prep — almost 750, to be exact — simply have to “log-in.”
Based in Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, the school is an online alternative education for students in grades five through 12. Founded during the 2013-2014 school year, iUniversity Prep graduated its first class of seniors in 2015. And while its not the only school of its kind in the Lone Star State, it did hold the highest test scores of any virtual Texas school each year since 2014.
Because iUP is a state-funded college prep public school, tuition is free.
“Rather than limiting their schooling to certain hours and a specific location, students can go to class and complete school work when and where it best suits them.”
The reasoning behind why students would choose an online education varies. For some, its health-related. For others, extremely high levels of competition in their athletic endeavors requires them to attend school at unusual times. IUniversity Prep boasts an impressive roster of students who pursue gymnastics, tennis, hockey, modeling, and more.
“The primary benefit is flexibility,” Dr. Kaye Rogers, Director of Virtual Learning for iUniversity Prep, says. “Rather than limiting their schooling to certain hours and a specific location, students can go to class and complete school work when and where it best suits them.”
In terms of books and learning resources, everything is shipped to the student’s home at the start of the school year. While iUP is a public school, all perspective students must apply and reach certain requirements for it to be considered a viable option — although being zoned to GCISD is not necessarily one of them. Prior education requirements include:
- the student was enrolled in public school in the state the preceding school year;
- the student was placed in substitute care in Texas, regardless of whether they were enrolled in a public school in the state the preceding year; and
- the student is a dependent of a member of the US Military, was previously enrolled in public school in the state, and no longer resides in this state as a result of a military deployment or transfer.
And while classes are conducted 100 percent online, that doesn’t necessarily mean students or teachers are not held to exceptionally high standards. In fact, three of the iUP teachers have been nominated for the Presidential Award for Excellence in various fields of study.
“Our goal is to provide students with a challenging learning experience, led by talented and caring instructors, that they can access on a schedule that best suits their needs.” Dr. Rogers says. “We seek to help our students achieve success not just in academics, but in all aspects of their lives.”
Courses are taught in various formats so students can engage in both individual studies and interactive group sessions, as long as they have access to WiFi. If a student is not a visual learner or has trouble staying focused, online schooling may not be their best option. But for students with unconventional schedules, iUP offers the flexibility to fit their needs in a much more natural manner than traditional schooling.
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