Alaska District Takes Independent Study Online


Fairbanks North Star Borough School District in Alaska is replacing its traditional independent study program with an online program offering more than 90 courses free to students enrolled in the district. Dubbed "Building Educational Success Together" (BEST), the program is aimed at advanced students, homeschooled students, students in need of credit recovery, and others who choose to learn in a non-traditional environment.

"The BEST program is a rigorous, self-paced option for those students who prefer independent study," said Nancy Wagner, superintendent of Fairbanks North Star, in a statement released this week. "Students who enroll in BEST will benefit from individualized attention, around-the-clock support, and a flexible class schedule."

The program is offering essentially two models for online education--one in which the parent is the primary teacher supported by district staff and one in which students take courses offered by Advanced Academics, which is supplying online educational services to the district.

The program is open to students in grades 7 through 12 and free to those who are 20 or younger. For older students looking to complete a diploma, the program is charging a per course fee.

Fairbanks North Star Borough School District serves more than 14,000 students in 34 schools and alternative programs. It has an annual budget of nearly $182 million. Applications for BEST opened this week. Enrollment in courses will begin in the 2008-2009 school year. Further information about the BEST program can be found here.

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About the author:David Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's online education technology publications, including THE Journal and Campus Technology. He can be reached at

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About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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