Gov. Perry Announces Initiative to Expand Online Coursework to Improve Educational Access and Flexibility
AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today announced an expansion of the Texas Virtual School Network (VSN), which will improve access to high quality courses for high school students, including those in rural schools and those whose parents choose to educate them at home. Students who have dropped out of traditional high schools will be able to enroll in a virtual high school program using the VSN.
“The growing capacity of the Internet and the increasing sophistication of distance-learning technologies are making it increasingly possible for students to take non-traditional approaches to continuing and completing their education, Gov. Perry said. “It’s time to expand our use of these technologies to our state’s more vulnerable students as a way to decrease our state’s dropout rates even farther.”
Students participating in the VSN will be able to take up to four courses online each semester that meet graduation requirements, or supplement their current coursework with additional online classes. Additionally, this proposal would allow home-schooled students to participate in the virtual courses at no additional cost.
Participation in these courses is aimed at bolstering a student’s education, providing access to accelerated instruction and additional coursework that may not be offered at their campus.
“The Texas Virtual School Network is a powerful tool that can used to give dropouts, or potential dropouts, another option for high school success,” Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott said. “It offers a flexible way to help these young people get back on track and graduate.”
The Texas Virtual High School (TxVHS) would provide full-time online instruction through the VSN for students who have dropped out of school. Once enrolled in the virtual school students may choose their courses, with optional assistance from advisors at Texas Education Agency (TEA) and create individualized course schedules that fulfill all necessary graduation requirements. These students would be required to pass the same end of course exams as students attending traditional Texas public schools in order to qualify for graduation.
Texas has been recognized by the National Governor’s Association for its dropout recovery efforts and this proposal will provide additional resources to recapture students who have dropped out.
The Virtual School Network (VSN) was created during the 80th Legislative Session to establish a statewide network for public school districts, open-enrollment charter schools, institutions of higher education and education service centers to provide online courses to students across the state. These virtual courses provide students access to classes that their school may not offer and gives students additional access to dual credit opportunities. All high school courses offered through the VSN are taught by an instructor who is Texas-certified in the course subject area and grade level, and has completed a VSN approved professional development course on effective online instruction.
In addition to continued funding for the current VSN program, the governor will work with lawmakers during the 2011 legislative session to secure $5 million for this initiative to enhance TEA’s capacity to serve additional students, provide funding to incentivize district participation and contract with private course providers to immediately increase the number of courses available.
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