K12 online public school review
Offers a mix of live, teacher-led classes and self-directed lessons to give students the best of both worlds.
K12 is similar to a traditional public school in that it offers school-sponsored trips and activities alongside a combination of self-paced and live lessons. But parents will need to dedicate a good chunk of their day to helping their elementary school students work through the curriculum.
Is K12 online public school available where I live?
K12 online public school is available in the following states and grade levels:
- Alabama, K–10
- Arizona, K–12
- Arkansas, K–12
- California, K–12
- Colorado, K–12
- Florida, K–11
- Idaho, K–12
- Indiana, K–11
- Iowa, K–12
- Kansas, K–12
- Louisiana, K–11
- Maine, 7–12
- Michigan, K–12
- Minnesota, K–12
- Missouri, K–12
- Nebraska, K–12
- Nevada, 6–12
- New Mexico, K–12
- North Carolina, –K12
- Ohio, K–12
- Oklahoma, K–12
- Oregon, K–12
- Pennsylvania, K–12
- South Carolina, K–12
- South Dakota, K–12
- Tennessee, K–8
- Texas, 3–12
- Utah, K–12
- Virginia, K–12
- Washington, K–12
- Washington, D.C., K–8
- Wisconsin, K–12
- Wyoming, K–12
How does K12 online public school work?
K12 uses a combination of interactive software, teacher-led classes and self-directed lessons to deliver online learning that's accredited by the Department of Education. Some schools have blended learning centers that allow students to go to a physical classroom for online learning either full- or part-time. And all K12 online public schools have monthly local in-person outings, clubs and activities to build a sense of community.
Each student is assigned one state-certified teacher in grades K through 8. Students hop onto live, teacher-led video sessions at specific times during the day and benefit from one-on-one and small group instruction. Teachers are also available by phone and email for extra support.
In high school, each student is assigned a team of state-certified teachers, each specialized in a specific subject. Teachers lead online lectures and discussions and hold office hours to connect with students.
Is it self-paced or on a daily schedule?
Teachers design individualized learning plans (ILP) to help students keep on track, while balancing a child's strengths, interests and needs. So while there are scheduled teacher-led class times, students can learn at their own pace according to their ILP. As a result, students can spend more time on topics that interest them or require more attention.
You have access to course materials while the course is active — which could be for a semester or entire school year depending on your child's grade level. For example, in a typical school year with 10 months of instruction, you can review any course material for 10 months. But for high school students whose semester courses are only five months long, you'll only have access for five months.
How are student progress and attendance monitored?
Student progress is primarily managed by the teacher. K12's software has an electronic calendar that gives parents a detailed outline of how long each lesson should take. And its built-in course progress-tracking helps keep students on target. Students also take assessments after lessons, so you can see how much your child has mastered before moving on to the next topic.
The K12 program also has unit and semester assessments. And parents will receive report cards and attend parent-teacher conferences, similarly to brick-and-mortar schools.
Some schools require that learning coaches report student attendance through the online portal.
What are the perks of K12 online public school?
Specialized curriculums and online tutoring are only two of the perks available at K12:
- Variety of online school programs. K12 powers several kinds of online public schools, including a virtual academy, a career-focused middle school and high school, plus a specialized school that gives students additional academic support.
- Specialized curriculums. In middle school and high school, students can choose electives and take career readiness classes that specialize in a specific field of study, including business, nursing and IT.
- Accelerated learning available. Depending on your state, your child may have access to early high school graduation, dual enrollment and AP courses, and grade-level advancement.
- Online tutoring sessions. K12 offers 30-minute live, online tutoring in a wide range of subjects with certified teachers at $18 per session.
What to watch out for
A few critical drawbacks you should consider with K12 online public school include:
- Adult involvement required. A parent or another responsible adult will need to play an active role in the student's education. For example, K12 recommends that the learning coach dedicate four to six hours per day to guide a student in grades K through 5.
- Delays in teacher assistance. If the teacher isn't online when you or your child has a question, you'll need to email or call to get assistance. You can expect to wait for a response.
- Schedule revolves around Class Connect sessions. Class Connect sessions are the live teacher-led lessons that happen at scheduled times during the day. Although the sessions are recorded and available for 24 hours, parents comment that the school day focuses on these times.
Compare other K–12 online schools
What is my role as a parent?
A parent or another responsible adult plays the role of a learning coach, who supports the student throughout the learning process. You'll be responsible for keeping your child on track with daily assignments and maintaining regular communication with teachers throughout the year.
Parents in online public schools generally play a more active role in the lower grades and gradually give the child more independence to manage their time as they get older, especially toward high school.
In some grades, you might have to review your child's work. But for the most part, your child's teacher generally manages and grades assignments.
How much computer time is involved?
Children in grades K through 5 generally do the majority of their schoolwork offline. They might spend 20% to 30% of the school day on a computer. Middle school and high school students generally require more computer use. For example, high school students average six to nine hours per week for a regular course.
Am I responsible for providing the technology and textbooks for lessons?
K12 sends all books and materials directly to families that are enrolled in its online public school program. You'll need to provide a functioning computer with Internet connection — no tablets or smartphones are allowed.
While the program is user-friendly, some basic computer skills are required and there is a learning curve to master the software. For younger grades, the learning coach will interact with the computer.
How will my child be able to socialize with other kids?
Many K12-powered online schools offer school-sponsored local trips, clubs and extracurricular activities, including sports, church groups and volunteering. And teachers also conduct social and academic monthly trips for students and families, like visiting local museums and theme parks. Students also have the chance to compete in science fairs and spelling bees, attend school dances and game nights, and more.
Types of courses offered
All students have access to four core subjects — as well as a few others depending on their grade level.
Is there a curriculum for children with special needs?
K12 can tailor instruction to meet your child's needs, based on their Individualized Education Program (IEP). Speak with your school administrator to find out what options are available.
Are students required to complete state testing?
Yes, students enrolled in the K12 online public school system must complete state standardized testing. Contact your teachers to find out the dates and locations to fulfill this requirement.
Children also participate in diagnostic and formative grade level assessments to measure progress and mastery. And early elementary students take part in literacy screening to identify students who may need additional support from a reading specialist.
K12 online public school reviews and complaints
K12 online public school gets mixed reviews online. Many parents praise the one-on-one attention their children receive and the well-rounded curriculum. And students feel that the teachers are supportive and helpful.
Parents mainly complain about delays in the enrollment process. And some reviewers took issue with individual teachers and rowdy classmates that interrupted group instruction.
How do I enroll my child in K12 online public school?
Here's a step-by-step breakdown on how to enroll your child in K12:
- Search for a school. Click the Go to site button and enter your ZIP code and child's grade level to see if there's a K12-powered school in your state.
- Start enrollment. Create an account in the Parent Portal.
- Submit an application. Answer basic questions about your child and choose a school.
- Submit documentation. Upload required documents, including a birth certificate and proof of residency.
- Wait for approval. Check your email informing you of your child's official acceptance and how to access the online school.
What documents do I need to submit during enrollment?
You'll need to submit the following documents with your application:
- Proof of age, such as a birth certificate
- Physical health form
- Immunization certificate
- Final report card from the previous school year, if applicable
- FSA scores from the previous school year, if applicable
When do I need to enroll my child?
The K12 online public school programs follow the public school enrollment period, which varies by state. Check with the school you're interested in to find out the enrollment deadline.
Does K12 Online Public School offer summer and holiday breaks?
K12 has a school calendar with scheduled holiday and vacation time. Instruction is generally 10 months of the year with a two-month summer break.
What are K12's online private school options?
K12 offers three private school options to students across all 50 states:
K12 Private Academy
- Tuition: $4,995 to $6,995 per year
Through the K12 Private Academy, students in grades K through 12 have access to individualized learning plans to fit your child's unique needs, academic and counseling support, online clubs and field trips and flexible course schedules. It offers enrollment on a rolling basis by submitting an online application and speaking with an enrollment coordinator. You can enroll by phone or online any time during the year.
The Keystone School
- Tuition: $1,800 to $2,890
The Keystone School is ideal for self-motivated students or parents of younger students able to commit several hours a day to monitor and guide their child's learning. It offers a flexible self-paced curriculum of over 170 courses that you can individualize to meet your child's specific needs and interests — including unique courses like photography, veterinary sciences, elementary school art and music, and more.
The George Washington University Online High School
- Tuition: $10,000 to $12,000 per year
Powered by K12, this private high school offers a college preparatory experience in a fully online setting. Students in grades 8 through 12 have access to personalized college counseling, AP courses, entrepreneurship electives and more. But acceptance is selective — students need to complete a four-part application to be considered for enrollment.
K12 online public school balances online learning with monthly in-person activities. It functions similarly to a traditional public school, but parents need to be on top of their child's assignments. If you're not ready to dedicate hours of your day to this curriculum, you might want to consider a few other online learning options.