Students can be drawn to online schooling for a wide range of reasons, including ongoing medical concerns, behavioral issues, the desire for a flexible learning environment or the need to be challenged academically, among others.
That's according to Dean Heus, administrator at the Wauwatosa Virtual Academy, a statewide school through the Wauwatosa School District, which serves students in grades 6 -12.
'I think parents can be driven by a feeling like they want something different,' Heus said. 'Some parents may feel like their current school, for whatever reason, isn't meeting their student's needs.'
Wisconsin students can complete courses online in a flexible setting. The Wisconsin-certified teachers are accessible via phone, email or instant message and use an online whiteboard to visually explain lessons, concepts and assignments.
The school also has a physical learning lab on Mayfair Road where students can receive face-to-face contact with a teacher, if needed.
According to information presented at a recent Wauwatosa School Board meeting, as of January, there were 123 students enrolled with the online school. That number has remained consistent since last year, Heus said.
About 25 percent of the students are from the Wauwatosa School District, while 75 percent were open-enrolled.
The majority of students who attend the school are from the greater Milwaukee area, said Heus, but there are students who attend from across the state.
Seventeen students were expected to graduate during the 2015-16 school year, up from 14 in the 2014-15 school year and one the year before.
The school does advertise through radio spots, throughout Internet radio Pandora and on Facebook. The best option, so far, is through word-of-mouth either from families or educators and counselors who attend events like statewide conferences, Heus said.
'We'll receive calls (from families) and even if a student or family doesn't pursue us, we're just trying to figure out what's driving that call,' Heus said, adding that the Wauwatosa Virtual Academy will try to work with parents to determine what the best option is for their child.
'Sometimes we find out there could be something available, something they could ask their own school about,' he said. 'I think we're pretty good with that aspect.'
Heus said the school recently finished open houses and looks forward to the coming year, where he believes 'enrollment will be pretty consistent.'