Virginia District Looking to Separate Online-Only Students

Carroll County school division wants to create a new separate school within its system to ‘house' the students in its virtual program. The Virginia Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the request in April. Carroll's virtual schools program is operated through K-12 Inc and encompasses about 400 students from kindergarten through eighth grade.

"Establishing our Virginia Virtual Academy Program as a separate school ensures that this academy and the vendor providing online instructional services will be held to the same high level of expectations and accountability as a traditional brick-and-mortar school," Carroll's waiver request states.

This is essentially an early adoption of something that school boards will be required to do from June anyway when legislation takes effect requiring the Virginia Board of Education to create statewide regulations to ensure that virtual public schools adhere to Standards of Accreditation. If the move is successful the resulting school would become the first separate virtual school in the state.

The division wants to provide the best possible education for online students and ensure that the new online school has greater flexibility in allocating time per subject according to individual students needs; the customization of a learning schedule is one of the great potential benefits of being educated in an online environment. At the same time however Carroll is keen to separate the test scores of virtual students out from their traditional brick and mortar students, and the new online school would achieve this while having no negative consequences for the students involved.

"Test results for the (Virginia Virtual Academy) students are embedded within each brick-and-mortar school and are not reported separately," Carroll's paperwork states. "Therefore, the (Standards of Learning) results and all accountability ratings of each brick-and-mortar school are skewed based upon VAVA students' results."

The gap between the two types of student was greatest on the fifth-grade history test where virtual students could only achieve a 31% pass rate compared to 70% average pass rate across the other schools.

03 28, 2012
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