Districts are creating blended schools, and schools are providing blended instruction, for a wide variety of reasons and in an assortment of ways. These schools and programs use different methods to combine online instruction and materials with in-person, face-to-face instruction. As explained in a recent report from the Foundation for Blended and Online Learning, some blended schools work mostly with students who have fallen behind and may be at risk of not graduating from high school, sometimes due to purely academic issues but more often for other reasons that may include illness or injury, pregnancy or parenting, gang or domestic violence, homelessness, or other factors. Other blended schools serve a wide range of students who are seeking an alternative to a traditional school. These students may have jobs, internships, or interests that conflict with a traditional school schedule, leading them to seek a school that has greater time flexibility. Other students may seek a different type of school because they feel that the academic and/or social environment at the traditional school is not a good fit for them.
These student accounts are familiar to teachers and administrators in blended schools and programs, but many educators, advocates, and policymakers who are mostly familiar with traditional school settings are not aware of the types of students who are finding success in blended schools and programs. This white paper focuses on these students, providing brief accounts of their stories, why they chose a blended school, and the ways in which the schools are serving their needs.