Many of Those Students Pursuing Online Education as Virtual Offerings Expand Nationwide
More than 50,000 students are now using Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account funding to pay for private school education.
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According to the Arizona Department of Education, 50,718 students are using ESA funding to attend private school as of late March. The program provides about $7,000 per student — or more for special-needs students — that can be applied to tuition or other private school expenses.
And, many of those students are choosing online education options as their private school curriculum. According to data provided by the publication The 74, in an average across 10 states, virtual school enrollment rose to 170 percent of its pre-pandemic level in 2020-21 — but then nudged up further to 176 percent in 2021-22.
Arizona was ranked 7th in the country in 2021, the last year for which data is available, in the total number of students enrolled in full-time online education, according to the Digital Learning Collaborative.
And according to National School Choice Week, In the U.S., approximately 375,000 K-12 students attended a statewide online school full-time in 2019-2020, a number that jumped to 656,000 for the 2020-2021 school year, with further growth since. In fact, according to the same study:
- “In 36 states, online public schools have been established by state authorities, by school districts, or charter schools, meaning students can attend these schools full-time, tuition-free for all grades K-12.”
- “In addition, at least 35 states offer part-time online public schooling through course access, which allows students to use online coursework to supplement their education with specific classes. In many states, this is accessible, and sometimes even free, for private school or homeschooled students.”
“Online learning is not only here to stay, it is the preferred method of learning for hundreds of thousands of students and families nationwide,” said Janice Gruneberg, Senior Vice President & Superintendent of Schools for Grand Canyon Private Academy, a private online school serving Arizona residents. “The milestone of having 50,000 students using ESA funding for private school is significant, and we know first-hand that online learning is one of the big reasons behind the growth.”
Arizona families have unique options for an online, private education curriculum suited to their child’s specific needs provided by K12, one of the nation’s leading online learning providers. And because these programs are virtual, students located anywhere in Arizona with an internet connection can access all of the educational options available — and take advantages of the safety and support provided by an online learning curriculum. These schools are tuition-free with use of the ESA program to all students who reside in Arizona, and are staffed by state-licensed teachers:
- Grand Canyon Private Academy (GCPA), launched this past fall, a new online private school serving grades K–11 for the 2023-24 school year. The school’s curriculum features a dual enrollment program that enables students to graduate with an associate degree, seminar-based instruction with a collaborative and discussion-focused approach and an Early World Language Program that gives students the opportunity to graduate trilingual.
- FaithPrep Arizona, providing Arizona families with access to a private online Christian school and homeschool program for students in grades K-12.
Overall, the online learning industry is projected to grow by almost 10 percent annually over the next five years, according to a Mordor Intelligence study of digital education trends. This growth is being fueled by increasing need for job opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, which have boosted the demand for STEM education.
“We are seeing a tremendous demand for quality private, online education opportunities that can be specifically geared for each individual student,” Gruneberg said. “The goal is always to create a brighter future and a pathway to success for each student and family.”
Both K12 schools are now accepting enrollments for the 2023-2024 school year. Families are encouraged to attend online information sessions hosted by the schools. For more information, visit the websites for Grand Canyon Private Academy and FaithPrep Arizona.
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