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Virtual learning can mean an early graduation for high schoolers and may ultimately teach them more than the traditional classroom experience can, said Robyn Baxter, assistant principal at Spencer County High School and coordinator of the summer school program there.
“It may be more rigorous and focused than what they’re used to. The new program is also very user-friendly,” said Baxter.
The program to which she referred is called “A+” and was used this summer for the first time at SCHS.
In recent years, the prevalence of computer-based education in public schools has grown significantly. Now, summer school doesn’t just mean a student is in need of credit recovery. Students are now opting to “attend” online classes during their vacation to get ahead or to better master an area in which they are interested.
This summer, there were approximately twelve students participating in the extended school program who were not there for credit recovery—six times as many participating as last year. Baxter is confident this number will continue growing and said that the opportunity to get virtual credits may soon extend into the school year.
Because of budget cuts, the number of days and hours summer school teachers can be paid has been reduced. Thanks to these courses, students that have access to internet can get credit outside the classroom. If they need additional help, they are welcome to show up at the high school during the time that the summer school staff is present.
Maggie Duncan, a high school student and budding musician who is currently trying to graduate a year early, spoke favorably of her experience with her online personal finance class. For her, it ended up being more than just a way to quickly earn a credit.
“I thought this was going to suck but I’ve actually learned a lot,” she said.
Having now completed her course, she need only find a way to earn one more credit and she will then be able to leave high school next June – a full year early thanks to virtual courses and credits earned at Jefferson Community College.