Virtual Virginia is launching a full-time online high school for the 2015-2016 academic school year. The pilot program initiated by the Virginia Department of Education will offer about 100 students the opportunity to earn a Standard or Advanced studies diploma by taking their courses both core and elective online.
Students will enroll with their local schools and complete their courses online through the Virtual Virginia environment, a secure, web-based ecosystem that will offer the full range of learning activities and tools.
Virtual Virginia students will participate in discussion forums, readings, complete assignments, give presentations and perform lab experiments just like students attending conventional classes, Progress-Index.com reports.
“We are excited to offer this opportunity to high school students, especially those with the potential for thriving in a non-traditional instructional setting,” the Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples said. “This expansion of the nationally recognized Virtual Virginia program provides more choice and flexibility to students seeking a high school diploma.”
According to Chief Academic Officer John W. Haun, the Virtual Virginia program will be offering fourteen additional courses so that students can earn their diploma without having to attend traditional classes.
Local schools are responsible for issuing letter grades and credit for courses. The DailyPress says that local schools will provide textbooks and other coursework related materials and possibly computers, too.
Virtual Virginia offers a total of 54 Advanced Placement, world language courses and academic electives to students who cannot otherwise enroll and complete these courses conventionally, either due to low enrollment or course schedule conflicts, Progress-Index.com reports.
Phil Giaramita, spokesman for Albemarle Public Schools in Virginia, said:
“We’re not yet sure if there will be any interest in the county for the pilot, but certainly the trend in education is heading down this path. He highlighted: “several issues have to be resolved, including course quality and teacher load.”
Virtual Virginia full-time students can either receive hybrid instruction that will combine brick-and-mortar schooling and online courses or complete the entire school year online and simply take the Standards of Learning exams at their locally-enrolled school.
Delegate Dickie Bell, R-Staunton, although a proponent of virtual education, expressed his disappointment about Virtual Virginia, according to The News Virginian. Bell explained that enrollment shouldn’t be limited, and that offerings should be more comprehensive to cover K-12 students and not just high schoolers. He also asserts that parents and students should be able to decide on which school to enroll at.
“This is a tight grip on who and how many,” he said. “This is not the same thing we’ve been working for five years. “I’m disappointed in the cap, and secondly, the control by school divisions and guidance.” ”
Established in 2002, the Virtual Virginia program has been offering online learning opportunities to over 40,000 students.