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What Do the Top Online High Schools Have in Common?

July 13, 2022

During the global pandemic, both public and private brick-and-mortar schools rushed to adapt to virtual instruction, to varying degrees of success.

Existing online schools, however, didn’t skip a beat. They already had years of experience delivering engaging instruction through experienced faculty and established academic programs.

Since the pandemic, interest in online high school has skyrocketed, and new online schools are springing up every year.

How can a family seeking a reputable online school be sure that school is a good one?

best online high schools

Research is Key

First, research an online school’s accreditation status.

This initial step will filter out unaccredited schools. Narrow your list to schools with accreditation by a national or international third party reviewer. This will ensure that the school has a high level of authentication and respect.

Accredited online high schools are looked upon favorably by colleges and universities all over the world. These colleges and universities will accept transcripts from students graduating from the top accredited online schools.

Dwight Global Online School, the online school of Dwight Schools Global Network, for example, is accredited by Cognia, and is highly ranked, at #2 Online Schools in the Americas. Dwight Global sends students to top colleges and universities around the world, an accomplishment that reflects well on any high school, online or traditional.

Instructional Models and Curriculum

Next, inquire and compare each school’s curriculum and instructional model.

Are classes asynchronous? Do students have live class experiences, and are they considered fundamental to the program? Is the academic program recognized nationally or internationally?

Dwight Global follows a blended instructional model that combines a flipped synchronous seminar approach with a college-style class schedule.

The model includes synchronous lessons that occur in real-time and are online, video-based, and virtual; as well as asynchronous lessons that include recorded lectures and seminars.

Because the best online high schools encourage students to actively participate in class, and also encourage interactions between teachers and students during class, live class experiences are crucial to student development.

See Dwight Global’s Upper School full course list here for details on core courses by grade level, and electives.

High School Diploma

The top online high schools offer a personalized online learning education that includes a respected and academically rigorous curriculum leading to a high school diploma.

Dwight Global offers two established academic programs: the Advanced Placement program path, and the International Baccalaureate path, which leads to the IB Diploma.

In addition, Dwight Global offers a third program–an individualized, customized program of study. Each of Dwight Global’s three academic pathways have challenging requirements; which, once fully met, culminate in the Dwight School Diploma.

Dwight Global also has a dedicated college counseling team that guides, supports, and provides extensive information for students beginning in 9th grade, and continues all the way through high school graduation.

Strong Communication and Community

An excellent online school will facilitate easy communication and nurture a strong sense of school community.

Top online high schools excel in creating and nurturing community among faculty, staff, students, alumni, and parent bodies. Dwight Global annually receives high marks for fostering connections, and it has a loyal alumni body and a satisfied and strong parent association. 

As part of the Dwight Global Network of Schools and its five physical campuses globally, Dwight Global Online School is unique. Every year, Dwight Global organizes and offers in-person opportunities at the brick-and-mortar Dwight Schools campuses. 

Some of these in-person events at Dwight in New York City include the time-honored traditions of orientation, graduation, STEAM weekend, and prom. Advanced Placement and IB Program Diploma students also meet in person to take exams.

Additionally, Dwight Global students often socialize with one another outside of school when students have similar pre-professional pursuits. For example, some students compete in the same tennis tournaments, ski races, dance competitions, performances, or travel training circuits for various other sports or individual passions. This extra dimension of a student’s high school experience helps to deepen friendships begun in the classroom. 

When researching online schools and their strength of community, also check to see if the school offers a wide array of clubs and afterschool activities, plenty of one-on-one tutoring time or special help, and homeroom and advisory meetings.

Experienced Faculty and Leadership Team

Quality of instruction is a vital part of any school’s success. Teachers should be well-trained in teaching principles and practices, and have degrees and online experience that match the courses they teach.

A top online high school will also have strong student support services, both academic and social/emotional, and these services will be easily accessible to all families.

An experienced and highly regarded school leadership team is another indicator of the direction and excellence of the school. An exemplary leadership team will be deeply experienced in pedagogy and all aspects of running a school.

Look online for the school’s mission statement and letter of welcome. Explore the professional background of the head of school, director of curriculum and instruction, admissions director, college counseling team, academic department heads, and more.

Overall, a top online high school’s excellence will be evident from the moment you click through the school’s website, read its Learning Blogs, or talk with school leadership.

Talk with a member of the Dwight Global Online School admissions team today.