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Online public school offers learning alternative

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Sherman student James Allen takes his high school classes at home, online. (KTEN) Sherman student James Allen takes his high school classes at home, online. (KTEN)

SHERMAN, Texas -- When most people think of public school, a typical brick-and-mortar building comes to mind. But some Texoma students are turning to an alternative type of public school.

James Allen has been taking classes with Texas Connections Academy, a statewide online public school, since sophomore year. He’s now a senior. He says this type of school gives him more freedom. He’s able to work at his own pace, with course work tweaked specifically to his needs.

 “We were hesitant at first. It was not anything we ever really considered,” said James’ mom, Lori Allen.

It’s like a typical public school with teachers and classmates, but with the freedom to work from anywhere.

“He’s been smarter than me for years, so it’s definitely not me teaching him,” Allen said. “If we know we’re going to be doing something -- going on a vacation maybe -- he can get ahead so that we can go and not have to worry about it; or he can take it with him.”

"I'm able to work at my own pace and understand the material more because I'm not stressed out about everyone else in the room and having to deal with them; just working on my own. It's easier for me,” James added.

The curriculum is specifically tailored to each student. Students take a test at the beginning of the year that helps develop their own learning plan.

“What I like to do personally is get a little ahead, so I check my planner which sets my lesson schedule in advance,” said James.

The teachers do give feedback and grades on assignments, like they would at any other school.

“I have more interaction with his teachers via the Internet school than I did before," James' mom said. "They call once a week, all of them probably."

The program even has college preparatory curriculum, including honors and advanced placement courses.

“Accredited, the students get into good colleges, all the things we were concerned about, it’s there,” Lori Allen said..

Texas Connections Academy is completely free for students in grades 3 through 12; it just requires a transcript. After they get in touch with the child’s current school to be sure they qualify, all the necessary materials are sent to the new student.

Sooner State students and parents can visit Oklahoma Connections Academy for a similar home study program which is available for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.