2006- Overcoming Obstacles

Overcoming Obstacles
“‘At-Risk’ Students in Our Virtual High School”

Katie Logan
Wind River, Wyoming, USA

Presentation Title
“‘At-Risk’ Students in Our Virtual High School”

Katie Logan is the technology director for the Wyoming e Academy of Virtual Education. The school is Wyoming’s only online virtual high school, and focuses on serving ‘at-risk’ high school students as opposed to the top 15%-25%. The Academy is located in rural Wyoming on the Wind River Indian Reservation, and serves mainly Native American students from the reservation as well as some other students from other high schools across the state.

In a podcast, Katie discusses her school’s successes, failures, obstacles, and challenges in serving ‘at-risk’ students with an online high school in rural Wyoming. They are starting their third school year and have graduated five students and contributed to the graduation of at least one dozen other students. Their full-time student body is made up of minority, at-risk high school students from the Wind River Indian Reservation.They also serve part-time students from other high schools across the state. She describes their implementation using eCollege and class.com and how they deal with day to day high school issues. She also provides a transcript of the podcast, and any additional goodies she included in the presentation.


On this day..


  1. Kate Logan

    I created and submitted my presentation prior to looking at the other presentations…holy cow. I need to amp up the quality of my presentation. Since this blog is going to be active for a while, as soon as I have a better presentation I will post a link here.

  2. Chris Higgins

    I agree with Renee…I would really be interested in how the teachers conduct their “classrooms”. In principle, I disagree with educating online before college; however, I realize that some students will become more and more enriched in the online world. No matter the level of the student, the reason for switching to an online high school is that “it is easier”. That really bothers me to hear.

  3. Pingback: Higgy’s Blog » “It is easier”….OK, but what does that mean?

  4. Pingback: Higgy’s Blog » "It is easier"…but what does that mean?

  5. aquiram


    Thank you for your presentation. I have been struggling with the issue for awhile now and am glad to have some information to follow up on. In regards to online schooling before college–today’s society is changing. Technology, including online schooling, must be embraced. What about those kids that just don’t do well in a traditional setting. We all know who they are and we know that they are the ones most likely to drop out. What impresses me about this program is the live support offered. Recommending face to face time is great and having that support always available is a great step.

    Angela Quiram
    San Luis, Arizona

  6. Katie Logan


    Our courses run off the learning management system, eCollege. This is very similar to Blackboard or WebCT. In each course there is content, discussion questions, quizzes/exams, gradebook, dropbox, webliography, document sharing, and so on. We purchase most of our courses from class.com. Their courses can be purchased by anyone and run on the above mentioned LMSs. We have also started to build our own courses. We have a demonstration course that we built. It is an introductory art class. Go to this link, http://www.fwsweave.com/index.learn?action=demo fill out the short information page and you can access the course. This gives you access to a real course we wrote ourselves. It isn’t active, but an archived version from last semester.

    Most of our teachers’ time is spent communicating with students; often clarifying something that didn’t make sense, filling in previous knowledge gaps, and the like. Communication is the key to student success. Teachers also spend a lot of time grading items and giving good feedback on papers, exams, and discussions. Timely communication with students is extremely important.

  7. Kate Logan

    I’d like to respond to the points you made one at a time, but we didn’t start
    a school that was "easier" than regular high school. All of our students
    will say that it is academically harder than traditional high school. All of
    our classes meet Wyoming state standards, and most exceed the standards. We
    offer a large catalog that most small high schools in Wyoming can’t offer. We
    offer an alternative to traditional HS where a lot of our students don’t do
    well socially or behaviorly. All of our students are considered "at-risk"
    for being drop outs and most of them have been drop outs at one time or another.
    We are not dealing with the top 10-25% of students who want an extra challenge
    or find a traditional HS boring. We are dealing with the kids who disappear
    from your class and no one ever knows what happens to them after that.
    It is easier because you don’t have to worry about doing the same
    thing at the same time everyday.
    During our first semester we didn’t have any rules about when students
    worked on certain classes, how much they got done, etc… We quickly learned
    that our student body couldn’t budget their time and they needed structure.
    In our school, there are blocks of time, usually an hour and thirty minutes
    that are dedicated to the core four subjects. Students work on the math class
    they are in during the math block, and so forth. Our teachers talk to our kids
    everyday to make sure they are making progress in their classes. If they students
    wants to work beyond the school day, that option is available, but during the
    school day when they come into our building there is a schedule that is followed.
    Students are only allowed to check personal email before 8:30, during the lunch
    1/2 hour or after 3:30. During the "school day" it is all academics,
    all the time.
    It is easier because you don’t have to conform to rules and regulations
    like no candy, a dress code, and other structures that students like to violate
    on a daily basis.
    We have rules and regulations. Students can’t eat or drink at their computer
    station, bottled water is the exception. We share a campus with th K-8 building
    so when the kids are in the lunch room, the follow the lunch room rules. When
    they are in the library, they follow the library rules. When they are in the
    HS building they follow the HS rules that include: not bothering other students,
    keeping your music down to a level that only the student can hear it in their
    headphones, no fighting, no cussing, etc.. This is standard HS stuff.
    It is easier because most of the work is directly to the point, without
    the embellishments that teachers add from time to time.
    All of the work is directly to the point which doesn’t automatically make
    it easier. There is no waiting for slower students to catch up before a teacher
    moves on. The whole class isn’t waiting for a few students to "get with
    the rest of us." Students can re-read content, take a quiz or a test on
    the day they feel prepared, respond thoughtfully to a discussion question, research
    a topic further, and so on. Students aren’t put on the spot with a on-the-spot
    response from a rapid fire question. Other students and teachers don’t automatically
    know what race they are, how much they weigh, what clique they fit into, the
    is an equal playing field. This is the same in that I don’t know what you look
    like, what race or sex you are. All I am dealing with is your opinion, nothing
    Finally, it is easier because they don’t have to deal with teachers,
    they learn only as much as they want to at a time.
    In our school, the student is in charge of thier learning and progress;
    not the teacher. The student will only succeed if they do the work required
    in the course. Our teachers won’t issue a grade below a "C." If the
    work isn’t at least up to a "C" level, the student has to re-do the
    assignment, quiz, discussion question, whatever it is. The student never fails
    the course, it is just "incomplete" until it is completed. The responsibility
    for learning lies 100% with the student. Teachers are there to guide, coach,
    encourage, mentor, explain, and facalitate the students. But no grades are issued
    until the student has completed the course to the "C" level. Our students
    deal with at least two teachers for every class they take. There is an online
    or virtual teacher who takes care of the nuts and bolts of the class like grading,
    responding to student questions, etc… Then there are four other teachers in
    our building (one for each core subject matter) who work with each and every
    student who comes through the door on thier classes. Students don’t come to
    our school to get away from teachers, they get a double or even triple dose.
    In closing, I don’t think our courses or school is easier than traditional
    high school. It is different and for almost all of our students, it is the last
    shot they’ll take at high school. If they don’t succeed here, they will probably
    drop out of HS for good. There are a ton of reasons why a particular student
    doesn’t do well in a traditional high school. Only one of them is academic ability.
    All of the other reasons have nothing to do with academics or wanting things
    to be "easier" in an academic manner. And finially, we are the first
    to admit that online learning isn’t for every kid. Some kids just don’t do well
    in our school. We have had a lot of kids who started with use and realized that
    "woah, I have to do all of the work, I can’t sit in the back of the class
    and hope no one notices, I can’t pass this class until I complete every single
    assignment to at least a "c" level…I’m going back to regular HS
    where it is easier."

  8. Kate Logan


    Our motivation was that over 75% of our students who went to high school after 8th grade, dropped out. That meant that only 25% of our students were earning diplomas. We needed to step in and offer an alternative. We need to give students something they weren’t getting in the traditional high schools. Have we “saved” all of our drop outs, absoutly not. But we have graduated five students who wouldn’t have graduated otherwise. And as an educator, isn’t that what it is all about.

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