Success Story

Small District Strengthens Virtual Program with New Digital Curriculum

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Big Rapids Public Schools, Michigan

About the School

1,950 students

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Big Rapids Virtual School’s reputation and accessibility draws students from all over the surrounding districts, some from as far as 50 miles away. Approximately half come from Big Rapids High School and the other half from other districts. The school serves students with diverse needs, including those who are homebound, have disciplinary suspensions, or whose life situations preclude a traditional classroom environment.

As a seat-time waiver program, Big Rapids Virtual School allows students to work remotely, with the only on-site requirement being when they take tests. The school computer labs are open until 5:00p.m. two days a week, which supports those students who have jobs or other obligations that prevent them from attending school during regular school hours. Students can also visit during lab hours and have 1:1 time with staff.

Students taking courses with the previous digital curriculum provider were frustrated by the lack of immediate support when they were stuck. Those coming in with sixth-or seventh-grade reading levels weren’t getting the remediation they needed to build their skills and content mastery up to grade level, or to prepare them for more advanced courses.

“Ensure that your digital curriculum lets educators focus on their teaching and enables them to personalize learning for all their students.”

Tim Buckingham, Mentor
Big Rapids Public Schools, Michigan


Apex Learning provided a solution that helped the district meet several criteria:

  • Flexibility to modify the curriculum to best meet student needs
  • Supports and scaffolds to help students master more challenging material
  • Foundational courses to get students back up to grade level
  • Ongoing professional services and support to ensure that educators got the answers they needed


Teachers report that students who pass Algebra 1 with Apex Learning are better prepared for Geometry than students who took Algebra 1 with the previous digital curriculum provider. Scaffolds and supports enable all students to build their skills and content mastery—whether learning academic vocabulary or reinforcing concepts—without having a watered-down curriculum.

For districts looking to start their own virtual learning programs, Tim Buckingham, mentor at Big Rapids Virtual School, gives this advice: in addition to having high-quality digital curriculum, schools need to build relationships with their students—they want to be supported. Great staff is critical. “Ensure that your digital curriculum lets educators focus on their teaching and enables them to personalize learning for all their students.”

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Learn more about the program used by this school community to achieve results.


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Digital curricula for grade 6 through adult learners help students reach graduation goals and beyond through flexible, personalized first-time credit, credit recovery, and expanded course access.

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