November 27, 2012 | Marcus Varner | Leave a comment Alternative high school options are growing in popularity across the nation, and nowhere are they more popular than in the Great State of Texas. To serve this need, more and more online high schools are popping up in Texas, using the vast reach of the Internet to bring quality, flexible education to high school students Â who are earning their high school diplomas and to adults looking to earn their GED certificates. Note: Students should always check with schools they are interested in to ensure that they will get the desired result. What most students will be familiar with is a high school diploma, the certificate that most standard high school students receive upon graduating from high school. GED certification refers to the certificate earned by adult students who didn’t earn their high school diploma during the typical high school years but return to school to complete their high school requirements later. Some schools for these adult students will offer equivalency exams (i.e. Stanley High School below) which, if passed, give students a diploma. This diploma is not the same thing as a high school diploma and signifies only that the student has passed the equivalency exam. It only gives students the ability to move on to take the GED exam. If the student then passes the GED exam, they will then receive their GED certificate. Both a high school and a GED certificate are accepted by most colleges and universities. Diplomas from passing an equivalency exam are not accepted by most colleges and universities or even employers. Beware of online high schools that offer no courses but only invite students to take an equivalency exam and earn a quick diploma. If you’re searching for an online high school in Texas, we’ve done some research on cost, curriculum, and graduation requirements to make it easier for you. Note that costs and graduation requirements differ for each school and that some of these online high schools are made specifically for current high school students and others are definitely for the older set. Some are public and others are private. We break it all down for you below in our list of four great online high schools in Texas: 1. UT Online High School Cost: $9,000 (if entering as a ninth-grader) Core curriculum: English, Algebra, Pre-Calculus, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, World Geography, World History, Government, Economics, Health, Art, etc. Electives: Calculus, Journalism, Art History, Intro to Psychology, Spanish 3. Graduation requirements: Obtain required number of credits mandated during 9th grade Pass exit-level exam Earn a minimum of 2 credits through UT distance learning program Attached to the stellar University of Texas – Austin, this online high school claims to be for: “Students with professional careers, students who are being home-schooled, students in remote locations, students who are older than traditional students, students who want to accelerate their education, and students who want more independence in their educational choices.” To keep students on track, no matter who they are, UT Online High School sends monthly progress reports to counselors. For each course, students are granted as many as 150 days to complete their coursework, which has been created by Texas-certified educators with real-world teaching experience. 2. Red Oak Academy Cost: $3,230/yr. Core curriculum: English, Geometry, Algebra, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, World Geography, World History, U.S. History, Government, Computer Science, etc. Electives: Creative Writing, Journalism, Studio Art, Graphic Arts, Digital Photography Graduation requirements: 22.5 credits for regular students; 25 credits for honors students Although it’s based out of Irving, Texas, this private online high school is available from anywhere you can find an internet connection. Parents can choose between an option where they grade their child’s own work, which is cheaper, or one where school staff does the grading (more expensive). This school provides courses geared toward gifted or regular students and courses for special needs, accelerated learning, and college prep students. 3. Orion High School Cost: $1,750/yr. Core curriculum: World Literature, American Literature, Language Arts, Algebra, Personal Finance, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, Statistics, Spanish, Economics, U.S. Government, Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy Electives: Modern Fiction, Modern Film, Math Models, Personal Fitness & Health, Bible as Literature, Marine Biology Graduation requirements: 24 credits On top of offering a quality spread of classes for its own students, this online high school also partners with public schools to help students get accelerated courses, provide summer school courses, to give dropout students chances to still graduate on time, and offer the typical AP college prep classes to those getting ready to move on to a two- and four-year degree program. 4. Texas Connections Academy Cost: Free Core curriculum: Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies Electives: Foreign Languages, Digital Technology, Journalism, etc. Graduation requirements: N/A How could this school be free? Texas Connections Academy is a public online school. Keep in mind, this school only serves students through grade 11, which means you can’t complete a high school diploma or a GED at this school. But Texas Connections also enjoys a high approval rating with parents. In fact, 95 percent of Texas Connections parents say the curriculum is “high quality” and 93 percent say their children are satisfied with the programs. A whopping 94 percent would recommend the online high school to other families. The academy offers regular, honors, and gifted programs.