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Virtual school lets students take more courses

Dr. John Barge, the state superintendent of schools, says, in an effort to make education work for all of Georgia’s students, he is creating more opportunities for them to take extra classes –– through the Georgia Virtual School.

According to the State Board of Education’s web site –– in July –– the board increased the amount of Carnegie units students are allowed to take online, per semester.

“This change to allow students to take more courses through the Georgia Virtual School is a huge step toward making education work for our students, says Barge.”

Carnegie units, or credit for courses in required subject areas, are vital to a student’s efforts to progress through his or her school career and graduate from high school. According to Clayton County Public Schools’ web site, to be classified as a tenth-grader –– for example –– a student must have 5 Carnegie units; in eleventh grade, a student must have 10 Carnegie units; for twelfth grade, the student must have 16 Carnegie units (2 1/2 units must be in English). To be classified as a graduate, the student must have 22 Carnegie units in the areas of instruction specified by Clayton County Board of Education policies, and state standards.

The recent change through the state board of education means students will no longer be limited to one full unit per semester, through Virtual School content. With more virtual content available, it is now possible for students to take much, if not all, of their courses online, through the virtual school.

Another online program, on the local level, also became available this year, when Clayton County school board members voted –– with the recommendation of Superintendent Edmond Heatley –– to turn the county alternative center into a “Virtual Academy.” Through the Virtual Academy, high school and middle school students will be provided with laptop computers, which will give them the opportunity to also learn from home.

Earlier this month, school officials said they also have plans to introduce the “iPad Program” to elementary school students.

In a previous statement, Heatley spoke highly of the switch to a virtual alternative-learning program. He said he believes the new method will help alleviate a lot of the behavioral issues at the alternative school.

"We want [students] to get focused on education, and the discipline alone is why we're going to the virtual program," he said. He added that the move is also in keeping with the school system becoming a “21st Century classroom.”

Full course content in numerous subject areas, including middle school courses, which school officials say are fully aligned with the Georgia Performance Standards, is available online through the virtual school.

The online content includes digital resources, such as interactive video lessons, self-check assessments, and educational links to help improve instructional methods for students.

For more information about the Georgia Virtual Learning program, visit www.gavirtualschool.org.ꆱ