Contributor: 
Katherine Anderson

Returning to school can be challenging for many students—and it becomes more difficult as they grow older. Often times, traditional brick-and-mortar programs fail to meet the needs of adults who have family and job responsibilities. Districts also find it challenging to offer both the range of courses needed and the qualified instructors required at a reasonable cost. Online instruction offers a cost-effective solution: flexible, personalized learning with an expansive array of courses taught by subject matter experts.

Antelope Valley Adult School (AVAS), established in 1968, transitioned from a traditional brick-and-mortar adult education program to a blended online program in 2005. In doing so, it made the path toward achieving a high school diploma an accessible reality by using Fuel Education's credit recovery courses. AVAS, which is part of Antelope Valley Union High School District, has locations in Palmdale and Lancaster, California, and serves more than a thousand students each year. Classes at AVAS are open to adults aged 18 years and older, and persons under age 18 not currently attending another high school who have custody of a child. AVAS students have the option of enrolling in High School Diploma, High School Equivalency, Career and Technical Education (CTE), English as a Second Language (ESL), Adult Basic Education (ABE), and Citizenship programs of study.

More than a hundred students graduate from the HS Diploma program each year. This success is attributed to the flexibility of the program and the caring support of the programs' staff. As one former student exclaimed, "these teachers didn't let me fail or quit, they continued supporting me to the end and I made it!"

How It Works

Classes in the HS Diploma program are offered in a flexible blended learning environment, allowing students to receive their education when and where they need it. When a student enrolls in AVAS, they register with a guidance counselor who assesses their credits. Students then attend class in the computer lab during their registered class time. Students may also complete work online when it best fits their schedule. As one student notes, "What I like about taking classes online is the flexibility I have to take the classes while working a full-time job."

What's remarkable about the AVAS HS Diploma program structure is that every teacher in the program is an instructor and a mentor for every student. As Adult Secondary Education Program Coordinator and High School Equivalency Chief Examiner, Evelyn Lynton explains, "Rather than each teacher having specific students they work with, every teacher has access to every student’s work. In addition, if the student submits work to be graded, any of the teachers can grade that work on any day of the week. Everyone pitches in to get all the assignments graded. It all actually works quite nicely." A program teacher agrees, "It’s nice being a mentor as well as teacher because we can provide the student with full service!"

Gaining credit for classes is flexible too. Credits are issued as they are earned and partial credit is an option. When students log in to their Fuel Education online course, they can see where they are with their coursework and what they need to complete the course. This transparency keeps them motivated and on track. Teachers and administrators can also see where students are in every course and who needs extra help. Using Fuel Education courses frees up time for the teachers, so they are able to focus their attention on helping students succeed.