Distance Learning & Online Schools

Parent Q&A

Silicon Valley High School OR National High School online? Feb 1, 2021 (1 responses below)
Online high school courses Dec 31, 2020 (1 responses below)
High School Online/Homeschool options Sep 21, 2020 (1 responses below)
Can I totally block YouTube on a BUSD-issued Chromebook? Aug 21, 2020 (3 responses below)
Distance Learning for Kindergarten Mar 20, 2020 (2 responses below)
Blended/Online Learning & On-site School for K-8 Students Mar 14, 2020 (1 responses below)
On-line accredited high school sought for extra class or two Jan 5, 2018 (4 responses below)
Online High Schools Oct 4, 2017 (7 responses below)
Algebra class online Aug 19, 2016 (5 responses below)
  • Does anyone have any experience with either Silicon Valley High School or National High School for making up high school credits?  My son had an amazing opportunity for in person school this spring semester, so he took it, but he will need to make up second semester of Chemistry over the summer.  Silicon Valley High School is accredited through AdvancED.  National High School is accredited through AdvancED and SACS.  Has anyone had a child take a class through one of these schools?  Did your home high school accept the class for credit?  We are in Acalanes School District.  Engaging, quality instruction would be nice, but mostly I just need him to get credit for the class. 

    Or, if you have another suggestion for me about making up a semester of school, I'd be interested in hearing about it.  I know that Tilden does this, but it's super expensive and both National and Silicon Valley cost about $100 per semester.  

    My daughter took Geometry at SVHS.  It’s fine for credits but there is not really any teacher engagement to speak of.  They watch video lessons and do assignments and tests, which are scored remotely.  Always check with the counselor at the receiving school about whether credits will be accepted before you enroll him.  

  • Online high school courses

    (1 reply)


    My kid is interested in taking an online course for high school credit.  The high school will take credit if the class is "teacher-led."  The courses can be taken at BYU, Apex Virtual Learning, Laurel Springs, Archbishop Mitty, Elite Open School.  Has any of your kids taken an online class through them?  Were the classes very difficult?  Have you taken a language or math class there?  Was there any teacher support and feedback?  How much homework is required?  Thanks for any insight.  We are so new to this format.

    RE: Online high school courses ()

    I'm not sure if your list is exhaustive or just the places you know about. My kids have taken lots of online math courses. Of the list you gave, one took a class through Apex several years ago and we thought it was terrible. I go out of my way to warn people off the company. That said, they still constantly send me emails with discounts and if you want to chance it, you can get $50 off this week using the code WINTER21. The class wasn't too hard, but my kid was taking it because he knew the material and needed a grade in the class to bring to the school district. I don't think there was an overwhelming amount of homework but the organization was somewhat lacking.

    My kids have had great luck taking math (and programming) classes through Art of Problem Solving (AoPS). You should know they are HARD so your kid should be above average if you go this route. Our school district accepted classes through them for credit and then stopped so I don't know if that is an option for you, but my kids took the classes anyway because they wanted to learn stuff. The teachers are good and there are like 6-10 problems/week for homework, each of which takes about an hour.

    They've also liked classes through CTY at Johns Hopkins. I would say these classes are hardish but not as hard as AoPS. Of the three classes my kids have taken, one teacher was excellent, one good (maybe very good), and one a bit of a dud. (Though the one who isn't great is going through a lot of personal stuff right now so it is possible it's just an off term for her.) My kids are planning on taking other classes through them and they have been accepted for credit at our school district.

    Another thing they have tried (though not for math) is UC Scout which I think is done through UC so gives UC credit. This class was easy and I don't think my kid learned a lot. My kid was going to try taking a language class through them but started feeling too overwhelmed with regular school so put those plans on hold.

    We've had friends whose kids have taken classes through BYU and been pleased.

    Good luck finding a class that works for your kid!

  • High School Online/Homeschool options

    (1 reply)

    Hello BPN community -

    One surprise of online learning is my child really enjoys it! As we head into high school next year I wanted to explore options for high school. Ideally, looking for a program that combines synchronous and asynchronous learning so there is weekly, if not daily accountability. Suggestions on how to even go about searching for this type of learning experience? Open to a program that would require tuition if needed.

    If you live in Berkeley, Berkeley High Independent Study is the best! Hour-long 1x a week private or small seminar session with your teachers, then working on your own the rest of the week. 4 classes per quarter, instead of 6 classes per semester. You get to manage your own time and your own learning. You can take 2 classes on the main campus; they must be things which are not offered at IS. (Music, art, lab science, e.g.)

  • My children use district-issued Chromebooks for online school.  YouTube is restricted but there's enough to be very distracting. How can I totally block YouTube on those Chromebooks?  I'm not allowed to add BlockSite or other apps because the district is the administrator. 

    (We don't own a Chromebook or laptop ourselves.  Worth getting our own for that reason?) 

    I gave back the chrome book for exactly that same reason! My kid said they watched YouTube all the time during class last year :( He’s using my old Apple laptop so I can block everything but schoolwork. Too tempting!

    We're in a different district, but our experience is that you can contact your school tech support and they can block specific sites on your child's account if needed. If the teachers use YouTube, though, then your child won't be able to access the content. Getting your own Chromebook won't help- once your child signs on with his account, the school's settings take over and you can't change it. If none of your family uses YouTube during school hours, you may be able to block it at your wireless router, but then no devices in the house can access it.

    You can't block it on the Chrombook.  But if your WiFI router supports "Block Site" it's as easy putting YouTube on the list.  All of the WiFI router manufactures, Netgear, ASUS, D-Link, TP Link, etc. all have the feature.  You will have to see if your router supports this feature.  If not, you could buy one.  This will only prevent access through your WiFi router.

    Might be pointless if your kid can join a neighbor's router.  Due to the wild fires Comcast has opened all of Comcast's WiFi routers to everyone.  If any our your neighbors have Comcast WiFI router your kid will have access.

    I'm an instructor and would suggest NOT blocking access to YouTube.  I am always giving students assignment to watch YouTube or EduTube (which is really YouTube).  Before blocking any site I would check to see with kids teachers to see if they giving assignments where students have to watch YouTube video.  Many news and instructional videos are all on YouTube. 

    You should also realize YouTube is on the only video streaming service there is out there.  There's Vimeo, Metacafe, Dailymotion, Facebook, Veho just to name a few.  Some of these sites, unlike YouTube allow for sexually explicit videos and other subjects you might not want your kid to know about every or at least not yet.

  • Distance Learning for Kindergarten

    (2 replies)

    BPN community - can you tell me a little bit about the distance learning that your child’s school is offering for kindergarteners? What does it look like? Am thinking about our child’s school and am trying to get a sense of what’s normal/best practices in this area. Would also be helpful to know if your child’s school is independent or public. Thank you!! 

    Honestly, we are in such uncharted waters that I don't think there is a "normal" in this scenario--schools are adapting as best they can. Here's what ours (at an independent school) looks like, though: a daily virtual class meeting (live); some pre-recorded videos of teachers demonstrating lessons, reading books, and otherwise preserving parts of the pre-pandemic school routine; pencil-and-paper lessons and activities off-screen, some self-directed and some with parent support needed; some on-screen leveled reading time; and connection time for parents to talk with teachers and ask questions about learning. Most of the lessons are 15 minutes long, which is challenging if you're also trying to work from home, but age-appropriate for kindergarteners. School's suggested schedule is flexible and includes a lot of free play and outdoor exploration (also age-appropriate). During "normal" school, the kids also go to a range of specialists (music, art, PE, etc.) so there are activities and lessons from each of those as well. It isn't perfect--what could be in these crazy times!--but it is more than enough to fill the day. Our major challenge is just being available/present enough to facilitate it as we also attempt to work full-time remotely. Each day we appreciate how much amazing teachers everywhere do even more!

    My daughter is in kindergarten and her school is using zoom to have two circle times in the morning (plus ‘office hours’). For schoolwork the teachers are posting activities on seesaw where the students have to post pictures/videos/audio of their work.

  • Hi BPN,

    Does anyone know of a school that offers a blended learning model? I'm looking for a program  that offers a combination of independent study or online/distance learning classes along with on-site classes for elementary age children?

    I found a great program in Southern California that's offered by the Tustin School District (https://www.tustinconnect.org/k-8.html) where children go to school on-site once or twice a week and study from home the rest of the week. However, it's too far away. I'm not finding any similar program or schools here in the Bay Area. If you have any leads or resources, I'd appreciate it.  I'm open to similar schools in the East Bay and San Mateo County or Santa Clara County.


    We're trying out Zearn for our 3rd grader for math: https://www.zearn.org/  IXL also seems good: https://www.ixl.com/  They can watch stories being read out loud to them on Storyline Online / YouTube. ST Math is great as well. Good luck!

  •  My niece , who lives in  a remote area in Kenya, has a BA from a Kenyan college, and wants to take math , chemistry, statistics courses online . She would like to go to nursing school in Ca in 2021, and  so while she continues to live in East Africa for the next 2 years, she was recommended “Straighterline -low cost online courses for college credit. I haven’t a clue and hope some international folks in the BPN can weigh in.   Proud Auntie 

    I'm not familiar with Straighterline, though I give a lot of advice to my middle school students about college. I would advise your niece to reach out to the admissions offices of the nursing schools she wants to apply to for 2021 and ask their advice for preparing to apply. They may have certain prerequisites that they only accept from certain accredited institutions. If they don't have advise, finding US accredited colleges or universities that offer online courses would be a strong option to prepare her. The criticism of Straighterline on Wikipedia is why I recommend talking to the schools that she wants to apply to before potentially spending money on courses that won't help her get into the schools she wants.

    Yes, definitely seconding the advice of the previous poster. Most nursing schools require that chemistry be taken with a lab component, and obviously an online school cannot offer that. There is a website that helps you figure out which courses are transferrable to which universities (assist.org) but I doubt it includes international schools and maybe not online either. I hope she has reputable nursing schools in mind--stay away from for-profit schools!

  • My child would like to take some extra classes over the summer from an on-line high school. I am having the hardest time getting a list of what online high schools there are that would offer some classes over the summer. We are open to private, public, or charter, but want to be assured that they are accredited and would allow her to take one or two classes to supplement her education, not be her sole high school -- simply just offer classes that she can take to add to her regular high school curriculum. Can someone who has actually done this with their teen help / offer advice on where to search, links, websites, or even good informational articles?

    Hi, I believe that Cyberhigh is accredited, our district uses it for some kids. My son took ASL on line through International Connections Academy which is also accredited.

    I highly recommend Legend College Preparatory in Cupertino; tel (408) 865-0366.  Legend offers College Board approved AP classes and those classes also meet the a-g requirements of the University of California.  They have year-long, spring break and summer classes.  My son scored 5 in his AP exam because of Legend!  

    David's mom

    My daughter took an advanced math class last year (11th grade) through Stanford Online High School:  https://ohs.stanford.edu/.

  • Online High Schools

    (7 replies)

    I am considering enrolling my son in an online high school.  He has health issues that cause him to miss a lot of school so we're looking for something where he can take his classes at his own pace.  It seems that some online schools are self-paced and some are not.  We need something that's not too expensive (max of $10,000 per year for a full course load - preferably less!).  I'm wondering what experiences others have had with online schools, both good and bad.  How are they structured, how much interaction does the student have with instructors, etc.  Any and all info would be appreciated!

    RE: Online High Schools ()

    I wanted to suggest that you might also look at Tilden Prep, which offers flexibility in HS coursework because of their one-on-one instruction, and they can do video/FaceTime as well.  They are in Berkeley (on Solano Ave) and Walnut Creek.

    RE: Online High Schools ()

    I don't know about on line schools but I've heard of Tilden school in Albany which teaches one on one and goes with the child's pace.

    RE: Online High Schools ()

    My son took a few online classes with Brigham Young University (BYU) Independent Study.  They were self-paced and some classes are UC a-g approved.  He can interact with the instructor and TA by appointments.  He also took some online classes with Foothill College as high school dual-enrolled students.  Those classes do have lot of homework and on tight schedule.  He can interact with his professors during online office hours and by emails.  Those classes are free if he takes less than 10 units per quarter.  Hope this helps!  

  • Algebra class online

    (5 replies)

    I am looking for an accredited online algebra class that my 13 year old could take. He will be enrolled full-time at his regular public school at the same time. So online homeschooling programs don't work unless they allow you to take just one class. And Khan Academy is not accredited. Any suggestions for good online classes would be appreciated.

    RE: Algebra class online ()

    BYU offers UC approved online courses: https://is.byu.edu/site/about/uc/index.cfm

    RE: Algebra class online ()

    I know it sounds weird but BYU is the go-to for online HS classes for reasonable price. My niece took all of her HS math this way (and got into a very competitive college.) You just need to arrange a proctor for the final which is not hard, they can give you a list of proctors in SF or a teacher or counselor at your son's HS can easily become one. https://is.byu.edu/site/programs/HighSchoolProgram.cfm

    RE: Algebra class online ()

    My son goes to a private, alternative high school, and when he took Algebra 2, it was through an online program called, ALEKS.  It was the only class he took online (with a teacher to help him with questions). https://www.aleks.com

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Online Course for High School Student in the Summer?

Nov 2013

Hello, We're thinking that perhaps our daughter could take an AP course in the summer so that she could have one fewer AP course during her junior year. We have not been able to find a school that offers AP courses in the summer that a) is close by (Berkeley area), b) is not too expensive, and c) offers classes that fit our summer schedule. (We are planning to be away on vacation for 10 days around the last week of July and first week of August.) We're looking into online courses. If your child has successfully taken online courses, could you please share your insight about the quality of the program and the fee? We of course would like the courses to be accepted by UCs and other colleges. Thank you very much. Anynomous

My son tried two online schools, k12 and apex. k12 was awful and apex was barely acceptable. He did do well on the AP, but it was painful. If you're thinking UCs then the better route is to take online community college classes. Many transfer directly without the AP hassle and even count in the UC application gpa. Eric

My daughter took some courses on line at K-12, I think it is k12.com anyway it is an accredited on line school. She did not AP, so I'm not sure they have them but call them. It was a good experience. Mariedda


Online High School for 17-year-old?

Nov 2010


I am looking for recomendations for on line high schools. I have a 17 year old who is looking to finish high school on line. Preferably nothing too very expensive. Steven

We just found out that not all online schools are accepted by colleges. Our HS counselor suggested we look at BYU online school as the UC system accepts their HS courses - not that attendance at UC is the goal, just that it is a good benchmark for what others might accept. http://ce.byu.edu/is/site/ Good Luck Sindy

There is an excellent on line program through BYU University (Brigham Young) where high school students can make up credits or complete High school on line. The requirements are clear and simple, they usually send a CD for the class and they are VERY reasonably priced. On average 125.00 per semester. All tests can be proctored at Classroom Matters in Berkeley. If your child is currently enrolled in school and needs to make up a credit or replace an F and does not want to go to summer school,this is a life saver. Classroom matters is very familiar with this process and can assist with tutoring if necessary. I have used it for my son and it was great. Good luck. Anon. anonymous

I did a lot of research on this last year when considering this for my teenaged son. The best by far that I could find was Laurel Springs School. (http://www.laurelsprings.com/home) They are a college-prep school with classes that meet all California state standards and some classes (although these are mostly text-based and not online) that meet UC a-g requirements. Not too expensive, but I'm not sure what you might consider too much. nkk


Online International Baccalaureate program?

Nov 2010


Our daughter is a freshman in high school in a school district that does not have an international baccalaureate program. Her father is from overseas, and he was in the IB program in his high school, and thinks our daughter would enjoy the experience. Does anyone know if kids can participate in the international baccalaureate program online? Berkeley High has a program, but we live in El Cerrito. Thanks! IB mama

There is not an on-line version of the IB program. Having spent the last three years working with the Berkeley High BIHS program , I acquired a pretty good understanding of how it works. Unlike AP exams, which anyone can take regardless of whether they enroll in an AP prep class, students who take IB exams must be enrolled in a class taught by an IB-certified teacher. In addition to the final exam there are periodic ''internal assessments'' that students must take, and these have to be administered by an IB-certified teacher. The combination of the results of the internal assessments and the final exam are what create the students ''score'' for the exam.

There are some limited ways to accommodate classes not taught through a school program, but they still must be organized by an IB certified school. For example, there are a number of students in the BIHS program who came in with a number of years of experience with a language for which there is an IB exam, but that is not taught at Berkeley High. To accommodate those students BIHS implemented a policy to allow them to get outside tutors who were IB-certified and would be willing to administer the internal assessments. I believe the final exam was done on the regular IB exam schedule, established by the IBO, at Berkeley High.

You can find more information about the IB program at the IBO web site, and on the BIHS web site (http://berkeleyihs.org/, which also provides a link to the IBO site.

Having said all this, my daughter graduated from BIHS last year, and she got an excellent education that is serving her very well in college, particularly in history and writing. Sandi


Online Math Classes

March 2002


I believe I have read recommendations here for on-line math classes for high school students offered through Stanford University (costing about $350). I searched the website and the Stanford site and didn't find anything, so am posting this to the group. Does anyone know how to contact them? Or have feedback? Thank you, Keiko

Recommendation received:

  • Educational Program for Gifted Youth

    Classes for Fullfilling High School Math Requirements

    Sept 2001

    RE: Alternatives to taking math at BHS
    Laurel Springs (www.laurelsprings.com) is an on-line school aimed mostly at homeschoolers. We have signed her up for Algebra 2 on-line. They use the Boxer Math program (www.boxermath.com) which is very engaging. I would like to see BHS offer this in addition to the traditional math program at BHS. I think it could be very cost effective and provide alternatives for kids who are not succeeding in the classroom. (The cost of the BoxerMath might only be $50. The balance of the $500 goes to Laurel Springs, which, by the way, has a full 6 yr accreditation from WASC). The on-line program has some distinct advantages (as well as some disadvantages of course) over the in-class program at BHS. The students can actively interact with what is being displayed and get pop-up explanations of things on the screen. They can go at their own pace (do lots one day, 15 minutes the next) and get immediate feedback on what they need to review (reduces the sense of failure and provides the confidence needed for success). This was recommended to me by someone whose daughter completed geometry and enjoyed it so much she is now taking Alg. 2.

    Re: Math Analysis at BHS
    My daughter took Math Analysis through Brigham Young University on-line when she was a senior and in the same situation as your daughter. You can look it up on the web or get the information (as we did) from The Tutoring Center on Dwight in Berk.

    Stanford's Educational Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY)

    Re: Online Math Classes (March 2002)
    Our daughter took EPGY Geometry while in eighth grade, because this course was not offerred at her school, and she did not want to take it at BHS. The cost was about $500 per 3 month semester, perhaps plus some incidental fees for supplies.

    This course was still in development. Our family gives it mixed reviews.

    Our daughter enjoyed using one of the programs used in the course, The Geometer's Sketchpad, which is available independently elsewheres, and we have recently bought a copy for her continued use (we were not allowed to keep the copy provided by Stanford). However, the EPGY proprietary program, The Proof Environment, was buggy, unwieldly, and frustrating for our daughter to use. (Admittedly, this program was still in development, however we did pay full price for the 2- semester course.)

    Technical assistance, and help were somewhat available, but not thorough, and were not helped by a "distance medium" and frustration of a teen.

    Not surprisingly, when tested at the outset of 9th grade this year, our daughter had weaknesses in the area of geometric proofs (2nd semester).

    (Fortunately she has a fabulous math teacher this year, at International High School in SF, who is able to tailor coursework to her needs, and keep her moving forward, filling in gaps, without the need for repitition.)

    In its favor, the program did provide a way for our daughter to continue with math in middle school, which would not have been otherwise possible. Other programs from EPGY are fully developed and tested.

    The website you want, as referenced by Parents of Teens is: http://www-epgy.stanford.edu. The phone number is (650) 329-9920.

    -As our daughter prefers me to remain, Anon

    July 1999

    RE: Stanford "Distance Learning" Program

    The program I think you're looking for is Stanford's "Educational Program for Gifted Youth" ("EPGY"). It includes classes in math of all levels (K-college level), physics, and writing. There is a web site at http://www-epgy.stanford.edu . The phone number is (650) 329-9920.


    UC Berkeley Online Extension Classes

    Re: Troubled daughter has stopped going to school (Jan 2002)
    UC Berkeley Extension Online offers high school core curriculum courses available either by mail or e-mail. The courses are accredited by the State of California, however, the student has to go through a high school to get credit. I'm not really sure how it works, but it could be worth checking out. Go to http://learn.berkeley.edu Lisa