Category Archives for "Featured Posts"

Are You a School Choice School?

Americans are looking for schools they can trust. Confidence in public schools is on a decline, and an increasing number of parents are opting out of neighborhood schools and entering the chaotic, developing marketplace of school choice.

Charter schools, other public schools within a district, Montessori schools, religious-based schools, and even homeschooling have all become viable options for parents trying to find a healthy, high-functioning learning environment for the education of their child – all in all, a school that is successful.

school choice school

But the elusive recipe for school success is extremely difficult to convey simply and clearly. Yes, test scores are a valuable measurement, but in many cases, they are overvalued.

One paragraph doesn’t tell the story of a book. Similarly, one test score doesn’t tell the tale of a school. Using one tool that is as limited as a one- or two-day test doesn’t accurately portray a school's success.

Although test scores are important, rarely should they be the sole determinant for examining what makes a school successful. A school is a cohesive entity that relies on many factors to ensure a better education for all students.

Research shows that there is not a single thing that schools can do to ensure high student performance. However, research also shows that high-performing schools tend to have similar characteristics that make them successful.

K-12 Online has shared some insight from a few of our successful schools. Take a look at our blog series on successful school leadership.

Top 10 New (School) Year Resolutions for 2014

As a new school year starts, administrators and teachers are gearing up to implement lesson plans that will meet or exceed the year’s school resolution. Just as we make our own unwelcomed but necessary new year’s resolutions at the turn of the year, so does a school or district at the beginning of school. A resolution typically centered around some big initiative that is focused on whatever education problem plaguing the nation at the time. 1973775_med


In some cases, it’s a new name for an existing problem that has already been tackled by a predecessor initiative.   For example, 1:1 laptop initiatives have now become BYOD so that every child has access to a computer. Or “online learning???, changed to “blended learning???, transformed to “flipped classrooms.???


Nonetheless, every year there are a set of infinitives that keep administrators scrambling throughout the year to meet benchmarks and exceed targets so by the end the school year, they have maintained par and have a feeling of accomplishment.


So to properly kick-off your school year, here are 10 current initiatives (in no particular order) for the 2014-15 school year.   And while there are an array of initiatives that focus on numerous topics, we made this list on a broad scale.


Take a look at the list and let us know what you think: Are there any initiatives we’re leaving out? How many of these initiatives has your school implemented?


  1. Common Core for 21st century learning to teach critical thinking and problem solving skills.
  2. STEM for global competitiveness.
  3. Adaptive Testing to better pinpoint a students learning level.
  4. Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to provide all students an internationally benchmarked science education.
  5. Flipped Learning where students gain first exposure to a topic outside of the classroom and use classroom time to assimilate the knowledge.
  6. Digital Literacy Skills so students understand how to take information from a computer and use it in multiple formats.
  7. Environmental Education to reduce environmental impact and costs and increase sustainability.
  8. Healthy Schools Programs to boost the nutritional value of meals served at school.
  9. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) so learning experiences can be more personalized to the student.
  10. Race to the Top to spur innovation and reform in state and local K-12 districts.

5 Advantages of Online Registration

Waste of time and materials can make registration time a nightmare for public schools and school districts. Even smaller charter schools struggle to make registration periods an efficient process for administrators, teachers, parents and students. Online registration is a wonderful opportunity for a school district or a charter school to redirect it’s energy towards the parents and students who need it, while leaving the paperwork aspect of the job in one secure, fast, and convenient location.


Five Advantages of Online Registration:


1. It SAVES TIME! With constant cut backs in education funding, the expression, “Time Means Money??? has never been more true. Valuable school personnel can take the time they are spending on paperwork creation/organization and put it where it belongs – in the service of students and teachers. It’s hard to imagine an office without dozens of paper organizers and stacks of forms to be filed. Online registration takes all of that and puts it onto your computer screen with a few quick taps on the keyboard.


2. Streamlined Paperwork Throughout a District. Online registration allows school districts to create uniform online forms that remain in the system throughout students’ education. This means no more lost files or important medical history forms that use precious time and resources to recover. It also allows schools in a district to use the same format for standardized documents/forms, keeping things simple for parents who may have multiple children in the same school or district.


3. Remote Access to Documents and Information: This is a valuable tool for personnel and parents alike. For parents, they don’t have to hear their children’s, “I forgot it??? or “It’s lost??? when it comes to school forms because they will be able to navigate them online.


4. Multi-Language Translation. Globalization allows districts to benefit from a myriad of cultures and languages. However, multiple translation forms are exceedingly costly. Online registration offers forms that are translated in applicable languages without a district having to create multiple copies.


5. Control of Information Access. Districts can make sure that confidential information is secure while allowing general information to be accessed by a wide variety of users. No more locking file cabinets.

Fundraising For Schools Increases the Socioeconomic Gap

We all know that there is a growing disparity over fundraising for schools. Some have a parent population that can commit an abundance of time and money to make fundraising for schools an easy task, while others within the same district are barely able to conger up enough parents to conduct a PTA meeting, let alone volunteer to give money or be in charge of fundraising for schools.

It is not uncommon for a gap between the have and have-not’s to exist within a school district. Public schools are meant to provide all children equal access to quality education; however, there are great disparities throughout the public education system. Private donations made to schools in more affluent communities makes this disparity an even greater gap.

The question then becomes, how does a district provide a level playing field for all schools within their district? One suggestion is to pool funds and redistribute to schools according to need. Some schools have successfully transitioned to such a shared system, however, parents with the means to step up and help offset budget cuts have threatened to stop donations because of centralized funding systems.

The reality is that parents at the “not so well-to-do??? schools are just as passionate about education as those wealthier ones; they care just as deeply about their children. But making large donations to a school for families at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum just isn’t an option.

So what is the right approach? Do parents have the right to pay for goods and services at one school when they are not available at other schools within a district? If districts attempted to move towards a “share the wealth??? system, would it create backlash for the districts, reducing the amount of donations they receive?

In most districts, fundraising for schools is done on an individual basis, and the differences can be huge. If parents at top fundraising schools were told that some of their donations would be redirected to other schools, parents may be discouraged to give and/or work hard to raise funds, which seems unfair to the schools that have the potential to raise large amounts of money to fund foundations and support programs that would otherwise not be available.

So what’s the solution? The truth is that there are no bad guys here – not the parents who can afford to sponsor programs and services so that their children receive a better education; and not the families at schools in lower socioeconomic communities who are desperate for more help so that their children can also receive a quality education.

There is no clear-cut across the board remedy that will satisfy all, but the uncomfortable truth is that until some steps are made to help close the disproportionate fundraising for schools, the gap between the public school have and have not’s will only increase.

What do you think is a happy medium for bridging the socioeconomic gap?  Has your school / district developed a policy that has proven successful?

K-12 Online Helps Solve School Problems with Budgeting

One of the toughest challenges in education is managing a small school. Budget cuts instituted on a statewide level affect both large and small districts, however, smaller schools tend to feel the crunch more when operating on an already meager budget.

In an age where everything is shifting towards digital, small school problems include falling behind with the inefficiencies of paper registration. K-12 Online is the first online school enrollment and registration system to cater to small schools. Although the web-based application is designed for any school or district, the product offers an option for small school problems by making the solution more affordable.

This could not be more apparent than in a recent encounter between K-12 Online owner, Michelle Sam, and a private school principal.

Upon returning from lunch, Michelle was saddened to hear a voicemail from a small school who had a demo scheduled for later that day. The caller, who in a proactive attempt not to waste anyone’s time, apathetically decided to cancel the demo. She had just completed a demo with two other online registration companies and had come to the conclusion that the software would just be too expensive for their little school.

Michelle immediately returned the call, outlining K-12 Online’s benefits and providing a rough estimate of cost. The caller was elated! She decided to go ahead with the demo and ultimately the school became K-12 Online’s newest client – the burden of affordable online school registration had been lifted.

“This is why we exist,” explained Michelle Sam, owner of K-12 Online. “I want small schools to have the same advantages and be able to operate with the same efficiencies as larger schools and districts. Because we are committed to improving the education system as a whole, making our product affordable for small schools in the end ultimately benefits parents, teachers, administrators and students alike.”

Savvy schools know their future requires them to become more integrated with parents, teachers and students. The world we live in is becoming increasingly interconnected and small schools can’t afford to be left behind for the sake of our children, nor can they afford to pay large amounts of money to implement the necessary improvements.

K-12 Online was developed to combat school problems like wastefulness and the excessive time and energy required to register K-12 students year after year. K-12 Online’s solution further helps to overcome school problems like application, registration, enrollment, and lottery management hassles and streamlines the process to be more cost effective and eco-friendly.

Finally, small schools and school districts can afford an online student application, enrollment and registration system that not only saves them time, money and resources, but also helps generate money through fundraising tools.

8 Tips to Improve Your Back-to-School Registration Process

Each summer, many districts begin their school registration and enrollment process for new and returning students. For some schools, this process can be a time consuming, dreaded affair filled with mounds of paperwork and hours of data entry. For other schools using online options, the back to school registration process is a smooth, stress free transition to a new school year.

Here are eight tried-and-true tips to help improve your back-to-school registration process.

1. Communicate with parents — Send a Principal’s Welcome Back letter. Staying connected and building mutual trust with parents from the start helps provide students with a strong foundation for learning throughout the year.

2. Utilize your school’s Web site — Provide parents and students with easy, online access to your customized registration forms right from your website. Post events, announcements, photos, etc. to stay connected with students, parents and volunteers throughout the school year.

3. Ensure easy website navigation — Provide easy-to-follow steps for registration on your Web site. Include a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section or a page regarding online registration.

4. Provide adequate training — Conduct a back-to-school registration training meeting with staff and volunteers so that they are familiar with your system and know where to find pertinent information. If volunteers and sub-admin are checking in students, ensure they have the correct role privileges. Recruit adequate staff and volunteers. Provide staggered time slots and make sure the times overlap to make for an easy transition.

5. Ensure data is accurate prior to information being loaded into the school’s SIS — Online registration software such as K-12 Online can provide a checks and balances system that allows information to be approved by an admin prior to it being uploaded to the school’s SIS, alleviating the worry of parents uploading data directly to the system.

School Registration Image6. Provide good signage — Have adequate signage so parents know exactly where to go when they arrive. Have signs outside with a copy of the registration form pasted to it with instructions of where to go if they do not have the completed registration form.

7. Simplify school registration day — If it is going to be a warm day, set up in the gym or another inside area rather than outside and make sure you have enough space to accommodate students and parents. Ask your PTA or a service group to host a refreshment station for parents. It provides a place to congregate and helps build a sense of community among parents. Have computers with access to the Internet and printers available (computer lab or library) for those who have not completed the registration process. Provide explicit directions on how to log in through the school network.

8. Start planning for next school year — After school registration is over, review the process with staff and discuss ideas for improvements. Email a short survey to parents requesting feedback about the registration process.

Inspiring Students: Whose Job Is It Anyway?

Year after year, schools enroll new students. For public schools, the process is a little less rigorous, but for most private schools, each student has to go through some sort of application process that determines their ability to succeed in that environment. An essay, teacher recommendations…something to help determine if they are "acceptable." Whether public or private, all students start the school year off with a track record – all the data, evidence, and documentation that make up a student’s academic story. But do educators equally judge the students they serve? More often than not, those with acceptable track records are not judged on their past, but on their potential. Interestingly, those with tarnished records are not judged on their potential but on their past. Is that fair to the student? Don’t all students have the potential to succeed? Does a student’s track record measure who they will turn out to be, or do they grow to measure up to their track record?

inspiring students to achieve success

In any case, a student’s file might suggest potential, but it doesn’t determine success. Educators play a huge role in helping to shape the success of a child. We’ve heard multiple stories from successful adults about "the teacher that changed their life" – the one educator that saw their potential and helped them realize it.

Although difficult, teachers must see the potential in every child they serve. They must understand that each child has room for growth in order to believe that there is greater potential in every student. And more than that, they must make the child believe it! A fixed mindset cannot see beyond to a world of potential because a content mentality doesn’t value the search for better.

Potential includes the achievements just beyond what a student has already done. However, to truly work towards attaining that next level of growth, one needs to value getting to the next level more than they value the one they have already attained. This does not always come naturally to a child. Helping a child discover their potential is an exercise in finding and pushing their limits.

Success can only be achieved through effort, willpower, resilience, perseverance, and grit. Yes, grades and test scores are important, but without the aforementioned, one cannot consistently find success nor discover their true potential. Many will argue that it is the parents’ job and that the seeds of success are planted at home. The reality is that not every student has the most ideal, supportive family life. Statistics show troubling numbers of children nationwide who do not even receive the basic needs of survival, such as food and shelter, from their "home life." When a child’s reality requires them to persevere through some of the most unfathomable situations at home, how do you expect them to thrive and believe in themselves at school? The process to begin tackling these issues is so multifaceted, and of course there is not one concrete solution, so as an educator, where do you start?

As you look towards a new school year, ask yourself: will you be the inspiration your students need? Another year will bring another chance to help your students discover their own potential.

We want to know! What do you do to inspire your students?

Michigan School Collects $1000 in Free Money from Using K-12 Online’s Registration Software

Year after year, thick packets encompassing forms from a variety of departments were sent to Grosse Pointe Public School families to fill out and return. That information then had to be hand-typed into the district’s student information system, which sometimes took until March for the secretary to complete. An individual school could receive in upwards of 700 checks at the beginning of the year for gym uniforms, PTO donations, textbooks, etc., all of which had to be processed separately.

They knew there had to be a better way and six weeks after implementing K-12 Online’s registration solution, they had found it! Grosse Pointe initially rolled out the K-12 Online system to its high schools and middle schools. Because of its success, the following school year, they implemented online registration across its nine elementary schools and plan on using the system’s web store to allow students to apply and register for summer school.


The versatility of the system allowed admin to upload fines for the past 3 years for lost or damaged books. The school collected over $1,000 in old fines! “This was an unprecedented amount of money for us to recoup!??? Explained Sheryl Hogan, Parcells Middle School Secretary.


To read the entire case study for Grosse Point Public School District, Simply fill out this form, put Grosse Pointe in the comments section and we will email you the free case study.


School Funding – Ways to Maximize for CA Schools

A new poll shows that most Californians approve dramatic changes set to take hold in public education, including the new formula for deciding how much school funding each district gets, called the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).



Under this new funding system, schools will receive a base grant for students in grades K-12. In addition to the base grant, a supplemental grant of 20% of the base grant will be offered for disadvantaged students: those who are classified as English Learners (EL), Low Incidence (LI) disability, Foster Youth (FY), or eligible to receive a Free or Reduced-Price Meal (FRPM).  Additionally, districts with more than 55% of their students identified as disadvantaged will be granted funds at a rate of 50% the base grant.


Each school funding dollar granted to a school will help improve programs and services in the areas where they are needed most. However, many schools have difficulty capturing the data required to ensure that they receive the greatest amount of funding for each student.  Whether it’s due to parent insecurities, student embarrassment, or lack of proper reporting, districts are “losing out??? on thousands of available state LCFF dollars due to students being misclassified.


So how can schools make certain that they capture accurate data for school funding? Well, using an online system like K-12 Online helps:


  1. Optimize data while at the same time safeguards privacy.
  2. Parents can identify residency information, language, or disabilities in a way that maintains their dignity, is safe and non-threatening.
  3. Parents feel a sense of anonymity because all registration and enrollment information is completed online, and hard copies are not circulated through volunteers, etc.
  4. Only administrators who are required to know classification information have access to it, adhering to Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) laws.
  5. Using an online system increases reporting accuracy and allows for data to be easily sorted, saved, and sent to the district.


Online registration helps maintain the parents and students’ dignity and privacy while ensuring each district receives maximum school funding.

Free E-Book: Guide to Help Catholic Schools Find Their Footing in a World of Charters and Financial Burdens

The Catholic Church worldwide is in the midst of a Catholic education boom, experiencing a 20% - 28% growth in enrollment amongst primary and secondary schools. But while there is significant growth worldwide, most are aware of the many challenges eclipsing the vitality of Catholic schools in the U.S.

catholic schools guide

This e-book presents some new perspectives to assist Catholic education stakeholders in identifying and implementing strategies to help overcome major challenges and recover the sustainability of Catholic schools.

Although Catholic schools fall under a larger umbrella, they tend to operate as smaller entities, leaving much room for self-governing. Dioceses can begin to swing the shift of disconnect by implementing programs that provide centralized autonomy to schools.

When these smaller entities are offered centralized services, they become more accountable, efficient, and effective.

Click here to get the free e-book "Guide to Help Catholic Schools Find Their Footing in a World of Charters and Financial Burdens."