WVDE | Instructional Technology | Virtual School | Course Offerings

Virtual School Course Offerings

EXTENDED LEARNING | CREDIT RECOVERY | ACCELERATION | AP | ONLINE LEARNING EXPERIENCES

Virtual school course offerings are based on West Virginia State Board policy, State Technology Plan recommendations and urgency for implementing 21st century learning. Virtual courses are designed to provide equity of access to all students in West Virginia and to help overcome challenges that prevent academic advancement such as:

  • The school’s schedule does not permit a student to take all the classes required for graduation or elective credit.
  • The low incidence nature of the course prevents the class from being scheduled (e.g., specialized electives or at least 4 AP courses), and therefore not available to students.
  • A student may be having trouble taking core courses when advanced courses are available at the school, and course scheduling time (not the student’s ability) prevents the accomplishment of both.
  • Opportunities for credit recovery are scarce or presented in the same manner as the initial failure.
  • Highly qualified teachers are not available to teach the desired course (e.g., world languages, AP courses).

Quality online courses must include clearly defined curriculum content that has been aligned to the state content standards and objectives, effective and easy-to-use ways for students to interact with and learn the content, and be designed to attract student interest. The delivery method is critical.  The courses must utilize technology that enables the teacher to customize each student’s learning experience through tools and formats such as e-learning platforms, video, interactive features, resources and links to related information. A quality online teacher, working with students in a well-designed and well-developed course, is also essential to success.

Extended Learning

By its very nature, virtual courses remove many of the more traditional barriers of time and distance to teaching and learning. The “anytime, anywhere” access makes high quality courses and highly qualified teachers available how, when, and where students need them. Students enrolled in the virtual school can access their courses from school, from home, or from any Internet-accessible public location (such as a public library.) 24x7 access gives students the opportunity to participate beyond the regular school day and the regular school year.

Credit Recovery

The statistics are staggering:

  • Another student gives up on school every 29 seconds, resulting in more than one million high school students who drop out of American high schools every year.
  • Nearly one-third of all public high school students fail to graduate from high school with their class.
  • The U.S. government would earn $45 billion in extra tax revenues and reduced costs in public health, crime, and welfare payments if the number of high school dropouts among 20-year olds today were cut in half.

 

Schools and school systems are searching for new and innovative ways to help students stay in school and on track for graduation. Credit recovery through the West Virginia Virtual School is one such solution.

 

Credit recovery provides students an opportunity to recoup credit in courses required for graduation and develop skills and work habits that will contribute to their continued academic success. Credit recovery differs from initial credit acquisition in that students focus on earning credit based on content mastery, not on meeting requirements for seat time.

 

Courses for credit recovery are not the same as remedial courses. They are the same rigorous courses students take for initial credit acquisition. They have been evaluated by subject matter experts and aligned to West Virginia Content Standards and Objectives and the Southern Regional Educational Board Standards for Quality Online Courses. These courses offer flexible pacing, extra practice, frequent assessment, and robust monitoring and reporting.  Personal interaction with the online teacher through emails, phone calls, and access to virtual classrooms is an essential component. These courses are not watered-down or shortened; students make up the course, not just the work they were missing from their first attempt.

 

One example of a credit recovery course is to provide a student who has failed to receive a passing grade in English 11 an opportunity to pass the course.  Depending on the student’s learning style, an online English 11 course may be successfully taken to recover the initial credit.  This course would follow the same course content standards and objectives as any WV face-to-face course, but provide an alternative learning environment to meet the requirements.

 

Certain requirements are crucial for a successful credit recovery program. A structured period of time must be provided during school, before or after school, at night, on weekends, or during the summer. Appropriate technology must be provided to allow students easy and consistent access to their course work. Administrators and guidance counselors must take care in selecting at-risk students and special arrangements must be made to ensure their success. Students must be motivated and able to direct their own learning to fulfill virtual course requirements. A trained course facilitator and a content area mentor must be assigned to each student to provide technical and academic support.

 

A commitment on the part of the student, the parents, and the school administration is essential. Every effort must be made to ensure West Virginia students graduate from high school on time and take their place in the global society. We cannot afford to do otherwise. 

 

Acceleration

Acceleration refers to the process by which students master content at an earlier or faster rate.  Courses for acceleration are available to all students who demonstrate the academic readiness to be successful. Acceleration is supported by the Virtual School in several ways:

 

  • Elementary or middle-level students may take courses in a timely sequence, without having to wait until they reach middle/high school (e.g., a sixth grader can enroll in Algebra I).
  • A high school student wishing to take college courses may complete a remaining high school credit to graduate early.
  • Students may earn college credit through advanced high school courses.

 

Advanced Placement

WV State Board Policy 2510 requires that “a minimum of four College Board AP Courses or the IB Program must be offered annually.” Advanced Placement courses are approved by the College Board for rigor and relevance. For 2008-09, there are 37 courses in 22 content areas available through the WV Virtual School. AP Exams give students the opportunity to earn credit or advanced standing at many colleges and universities. Through the WV Virtual School, students have access to a wide array of AP courses that may not be available at their high school.  Please visit the Virtual School website for a current list.

 

Online Learning Experience

Policy 2510 recommends “that all students complete an online learning experience during grades 9-12.” A quality online learning experience is a combination of structured and meaningful learning activities accessed via the K-12 telecommunications network. An online learning experience must exhibit all of the following characteristics to be considered a quality experience:

 

  • Focus on 21st Century Skills – the experience will encourage students to access, analyze and evaluate information sources, incorporate various types of communications skills, and practice problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
  • Teacher Involvement – the teacher will be a critical partner in the experience as he/she facilitates and monitors student activity.
  • Focus on Safety and Ethics – the experience will reinforce important concepts of Internet safety, personal responsibility, copyright, and ethics.
  • Collaboration – the experience must allow students to be involved in developing working relationships with other students and teachers.
  • Integration – the experience must be aligned with the state-approved content standards and objectives and the Southern Regional Education Board’s Standards for Quality Online Teaching.
  • Sustainability – the experience must provide the opportunity to practice using technology tools and network-based resources including a learning management system.

Quality online student experiences may include:

  • Enrolling in a teacher-led, online course through the West Virginia Virtual School (http://virtualschool.k12.wv.us) .
  • Enrolling in a blended-delivery course hosted through WVLearns and taught by the classroom teacher   (http://wvlearns.k12.wv.us).
  • Completing a unit/project from the WVLearns Learning Object Repository (http://wvlearns.k12.wv.us).
  • Participating in a project-based learning unit (http://www.thinkquest.org/en/).
  • Regularly utilizing teacher-facilitated online collaboration and communication tools.
  • Working through a self-paced online learning project (assuming the student is a highly independent learner who demonstrates self-initiative and requires little guidance for successful completion).
  • Routinely utilizing and combining a variety of aligned resources and/or online simulations across the curriculum such as those found in Teach21 (http://wvde.state.wv.us/teach21), Intel Teach (http://wvde.state.wv.us/intel), SAS in School Curriculum Pathways (http://wvde.state.wv.us/sas), and Thinkfinity (http://wvde.state.wv.us/thinkfinity) for a rigorous and relevant online learning experience.
  • Developing and utilizing an electronic portfolio.
  • Other activities that meet the characteristics listed above that will prepare students for future utilization of online learning in higher education or the world of business and industry.

The method of validating the online learning experience will be determined by each county.  WVLearns will provide the opportunity for students to utilize the eportfolio to house such evidence.