- A new virtual high school option in Virginia will be piloted by 100 students.
- The 2015-16 school year will be the first for the fully online alternative, which will feature first-come, first-serve enrollment and be exclusive to public school students.
- Virtual Virginia will also offer advanced placement classes and free learning materials, and students will still be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities at their respective schools.
Full-time online programs are still fairly uncommon in K-12: Of 26 states offering some form of online K-12 programs, only 10 offer a fully online alternative. Those states? Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
As K12 Inc. SVP of Public Affairs and Policy Communications Jeff Kwitowski pointed out in an email to Education Dive, however, there are full-time online public school programs in at least 30 states, per Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning and International Association for K-12 Online Learning. Additionally, the company's Virginia Virtual Academy has operated in that state for some time now.
A successful Virtual Virginia pilot will see eligibility for the program expanded to all of Virginia's 40,000 public school students, but according to ThinkProgress, there's already a catch. Republican delegate Dickie Bell, who has long backed the creation of such a program, is taking issue with the 100-student limit, saying it potentially excludes numerous students who may be under-performing due to bullying or any number of other issues.
It's also worth noting the issues that these programs have seen in some states, with truancy chief among them. Ohio Virtual Academy was recently cleared of allegations that it was still collecting per-pupil funding on chronically truant students. And Pennsylvania is in the midst of passing stricter truancy accountability laws to save students from potentially hostile homes following the beating death of an 11-year-old boy and other child abuse instances.