Texas Virtual Schools: Full-Time Online Schools for Kids in San Antonio


They have been around for years, but with the world turned upside down due to the pandemic, now more families than ever are looking at virtual schools as a viable solution. Full-time online schools for kids have already solved many of the issues that have been causing trouble for brick-and-mortar schools and for families that are new to distance learning: how to deliver supplies, books, and technology to homes; establishing a structured school day; guiding interaction and relationships between teachers and students; and building a sense of community.

During the 2020–21 school year, families are facing a lot of uncertainty about when school campuses will be open. Some families are considering withdrawing their children from their former schools so they can have more control over their schedules. If homeschooling seems daunting, then online schools are an appealing alternative because the programs include TEKS-aligned curriculum and support from experienced teachers. If you are curious about online schools but need more information to guide your decision, then we are here to help; you may also wish to join the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook to ask questions of other parents and caregivers.

Features of Full-Time Online Schools for Kids

Full-time online school is a public education, but in a different packaging. Like homeschooling, there is no school building, and students work on school wherever they are—at home, at work, or even traveling. Like other public schools, full-time online school is free—there are no tuition costs. Students enrolled in full-time online school take all of the state-mandated standardized tests (i.e., STAAR and end of course exams). Online schools are required to enroll students with special needs and provide them with the services they need. The teachers are Texas-certified and trained in online instruction.

In Texas, there are some limits, unfortunately, on which students are eligible for full-time online school.

  • Limited to grades 3–12 (although there appears to be a new exception—more below in Recent Changes)
  • Students must have been enrolled in a public school in Texas during the previous school year—but there is an exception for military dependents.

Even before the pandemic, there are many reasons why a family might choose full time online school. Special needs, including medical needs, sometimes require a flexible learning schedule. Students who are high achievers—in music, dance, gymnastics, sports, or another pursuit—appreciate the fluidity of full-time online school. Military families who move away from Texas, but plan to return, can stick with TEKS-aligned curriculum by enrolling in a Texas full time online school while posted overseas.

This post focuses on public full-time online schools. There are also private online schools. Also, students can choose from a of online courses to pursue part-time online school.

Full-Time Online Schools for Texas Students

In Texas, all of the public full-time online schools have ties to a public school entity—either a traditional public school district or a charter school network. The Texas Virtual School Network, managed by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), currently has six members. These online schools are open to students all across Texas.

eSchool Prep

  • Serves grades 5–11
  • Reestablished 2019 (also operated 2011–15)

iSchool Virtual Academy of Texas

  • Serves grades 3–12
  • Established in 2008

iUniversity Prep

  • Serves grades 5–12
  • Established in 2013

Texas Connections Academy at Houston

  • Serves grades 3–12
  • Established in 2008

Texas Online Preparatory School (TOPS)

  • Serves grades 3–12
  • Established in 2013
  • School report cards: elementary—rated D; middle—rated C; high—rated C

Texas Virtual Academy at Hallsville (TVAH)

  • Serves grades 3–12
  • Established in 2014

Recent Changes in Online School Offerings

Starting with the 2020–21 school year, families have more options for full time online virtual school. ILTEXAS VS is a new offering from International Leadership of Texas, a B-rated charter school district. ILTEXAS VS is open to students in grades K–12, and there is no prior public requirement (i.e., students don’t have to prove they were previously enrolled in a Texas public school to be eligible). Apply online.

More changes may be coming as the TEA, districts, and charter schools respond to families’ educational needs during the coronavirus pandemic. The San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook is a good place to find up-to-date information and  ask questions of other parents and caregivers.

  • “Virtual School,” Fun4AlamoKids

Charter Moms Chats

Shea Mackin is the mother of four boys, and has experience with full time online school going back to 2009. She is the Texas lead and serves on the board of the National Coalition for Public School Options. Listen to her interview with Inga Cotton on Charter Moms Chats.

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