Lauren Holland of Lexington said her high school grade point average has recently increased from a 3.0 to a 3.5, and her motivation for learning has undergone a dramatic change.
She expects to graduate early. Her mother says she is on an accelerated path for college and a career in fine arts, drama and singing.
Lauren credits Fayette County Public Schools e-school program, which allows as many as 400 to 500 students who have good reading test scores to take online courses on a full- or part-time basis.
Forty to fifty students take e-school classes full-time. The rest are enrolled full-time at a regular high school and take online courses to get ahead or graduate on time.
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"It really helped improve my grades," said Lauren.
As part of the program, Lauren corresponds by email with Jefferson County public school teachers and then takes the final for each course in Fayette County at Martin Luther King Jr. Academy, which houses the e-school program.
Signe Dunn, a retired counselor who now oversees Fayette students who are going to e-school, said it's a rigorous program for students who are self-starters.
School counselors approve students for e-school.
Most students take one course at a time. Students are expected to spend 20 to 30 hours a week on each course. Those who don't pass each course in a timely fashion — usually in about three weeks — can't stay in the program.
One day a few weeks ago, Dunn telephoned the mother of a ninth-grader, who failed to show up for a scheduled final, to discuss the student's lack of progress.
"This is not easy," Dunn said of e-school. "If there's a student who wants to get out of school because they are tired of it, they are probably not going to be successful in e-school."
Costs for each course begin at about $125. Students who take e-school courses full-time may take unlimited classes for $250 a semester. The courses are less expensive for students who receive free and reduced-price lunch.
Donna Holland, Lauren's mother, said taking e-school courses had allowed Lauren to participate in the Academy for Creative Excellence, University of Kentucky Opera Theatre and to sing in Nashville.
"E-school has freed up her time to pursue her goals in working towards her college major that will help her be able to graduate sooner," said Dunn.
"Her older brother graduated e-school three years earlier, and because of that program, he has been on the dean's list at Bluegrass Community & Technical College for the last two semesters. I have two success stories from that program. "
E-school "is wonderful in propelling kids who are working for their lifelong goals in college," Donna Holland said.
E-school also benefits the type of student who is highly motivated but who might find certain social situations at school overwhelming, Dunn said.
Some students' grades improve in e-school because of the structure, said Aaron Morris, an e-school staff member. "Parents are just elated."
Lolita Godoy, an online instructional assistant, said "organization and managing time wisely" were two skills her part-time e-students were learning.
E-school student Kathryn Myers, who takes the courses full-time, said, "I want to get in college earlier and go to an animal behavior college in California."
Shametra Coleman is a full-time student at Tates Creek High School but is taking e-school courses because she wants to graduate a year early, in 2017.
"I want to major in criminal justice," she said.