Students in grades 6-8 in Bossier Parish, Louisiana will now have the opportunity to enroll in online courses instead of traditional classroom learning at Bossier Schools’ Virtual Learning Academy.
Students in grades 6-12 will now be able to work from home or to visit a specific campus to meet one-on-one with teachers. They will be required to complete assessments in person, reports Segann March of the Shreveport Times.
Terrie Johnson, Bossier Parish Schools 9-12 instructional supervisor, said:
“Students can take three or four virtual courses and one face to face class. The students over the past three years who have been involved in our virtual school have almost a 90% graduation rate and that’s huge, and better than some of our high schools.”
Michelle Doolittle, one of the high school teachers, highlighted the relationships between the teachers and the students even though they do not attend regular classes. She said:
“Some of the students just didn’t want to be in a regular classroom and be more independent. We really get to know the individual students. There’s not one thing about any of these students that we don’t know. We know who they are, why they are here, and what they become when they leave.”
The Virtual Learning Academy (or VLA) was created three years ago with two certified teachers and aimed at grades 9-12. Recently, the school hired a teacher for grades 6-8.
The district will also be expanding the main campus to separate the middle and high school students. More space is needed for the program to grow.
The original site, the Butler Education Complex, will house the 6-8 students and the 9-12 students will go to Bossier High School. High school students will be able to participate in clubs, but it’s undecided yet whether they will be able to join in sports.
The program also offers free bus transportation to Bossier High School and free breakfasts and lunches at the high school.
60 middle school and 150 high school students are expected to take advantage of the program this year.
The school’s online content is provided by Odysseyware Academy and is available 24/7, reports Angela Thomas of 710 KEEL. This aligns with Louisiana state standards.
High school students have the option of taking a language, reports a brochure from Bossier Press.
According to Nicolette Schleisman of KSLA, there are lots of reasons that a student and their families may choose to attend school online — for example, they may be ill and need to spend time in the hospital frequently, have a job, participate in professional sports, or be homeschooled.
Elizabeth Pickett of the Class of 2016 said:
“The virtual learning program was the best thing for me. I had a full-time job and a full class load, yet I stayed on top of my grades, graduated a semester early, and started college.”