EASTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS EASTON, MA VIRTUAL HIGH SCHOOL

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1 EASTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS EASTON, MA VIRTUAL HIGH SCHOOL I. Introduction On January 2, 2013 Governor Patrick signed House Bill 4274, An Act Establishing Commonwealth Virtual Schools. The Bill provides for broader online learning in Massachusetts primarily for K- 12 students desiring a full time virtual education. The Bill establishes guidelines for the approval and operation of the virtual schools while directing the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to draft structural and oversight regulations. Currently (2015) there are real concerns regarding the quality of virtual high schools, which tend to lag significantly behind traditional- brick and- mortar schools in program quality, and reports of student success and achievement. For the vast majority of Easton students, the best education is provided in our school buildings. There is merit, however, for some students, in the thoughtful online supplementation of our traditional high school education offerings. The goal of the Easton Public Schools to offer our students a full and appropriate education. In order to provide experiences not available in our existing high school curriculum, and to be sensitive to other unique needs of some of our students, we offer a limited number of opportunities via supplementary online courses for qualified, interested students. Easton Public Schools offers courses through the Virtual High School (Http://www.thevhscollaborative.org). The VHS was established in 1996 by the Concord Consortium, a Massachusetts- based education research and development organization. This is a non- profit membership organization, composed of schools from across the United States and other countries, whose purpose is to offer students diverse and rigorous coursework. Participating schools contribute curriculum and instructors who are provided training in online instruction. Students, too, are provided orientation. Easton School Committee Page 1 of 5

2 Course quality and instruction are overseen by VHS and meet the National Education Association s guidelines for high- quality online courses. VHS instructors are certified in the subjects they teach and receive ongoing professional development. Currently more than 185 classes are offered by VHS, including on- grade and AP courses. VHS made a commitment in 2014 to particularly address STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) course offerings. II. Student Enrollment/Participation: 1. Students wishing to apply for online/virtual courses must be full time students in the Easton Public Schools in good standing. 2. The Easton Public School District requires that all students in high school take seven classes each semester with core requirements in English, Social Studies, Science and Math. The regular high school curriculum includes all courses required to graduate. The purpose of virtual school courses should therefore be for AP and other appropriate coursework not available at the high school; for students who are medically or emotionally fragile and may benefit from the course(s), or for students who may be in need of credit recovery. 3. Students must obtain permission from the high school principal or his/her designee in order to take an online course for credit through VHS. The following criteria must be met before such permission is granted: a. Complete any necessary prerequisites b. Submit an application/personal statement regarding the merit of the online course(s) c. Demonstrate proper academic ability, attendance history, and behavioral history d. Exhibit skills necessary to function effectively in an online or virtual school environment Easton School Committee Page 2 of 5

3 4. As there is finite enrollment capacity for virtual/online classes, spots will be distributed fairly among these specific student groups ((students must meet all requirements under #3 above): a. Students needing to make up courses due to illness or other excused prolonged absence b. Students seeking AP or other enrichment opportunities c. Students pursuing coursework of interest not offered in the current high school curriculum d. Students at academic risk for whom other remedial opportunities are not suitable or for credit recovery due to prior unsuccessful course participation *If all available enrollments are not filled by high school students, eighth graders will be allowed to participate for purposes of enrichment. III. Credit for Virtual Coursework Credit from an online or virtual course may be earned in the following circumstances: 1. The course is not offered at the District s high school. a. In all cases, the course must be approved in advance by the administration. Factors including course content, rigor, and the necessity of the course in the student s plan of study will be considered. In addition, the availability of resources including room, equipment, and staff will be considered in every decision. **Exception: A student will be allowed to take a course currently offered at the District s high school through the virtual school if it is an eighth class taken in addition to the seven classes being taken within the district s regular high school curriculum, if online enrollment space allows. The eighth class will not be counted toward class rank or GPA but will be counted as a credited class. 2. The district does offer the course, but the student is not able to take it due to a significant, documented medical issue. 3. Students who are in need of credit recovery as a means to meet graduation requirements. Easton School Committee Page 3 of 5

4 IV. Grades for Virtual Coursework 1. Students must pass all virtual coursework to receive credit. 2. The grade for non- AP classes will be based upon the district s grading scale and grading policies. 3. If a student does not receive a grade of C or better for an AP course, they will not receive credit for that course. The grading criteria to continue in Honors or AP level coursework, whether at the high school or online, are the same. 4. Students taking a VHS AP Course are required to take the AP exam in the spring through the OAHS guidance department. V. Other Policies Concerning Virtual Classes 1. All virtual education programs and courses will be consistent with District instructional goals and aligned with Massachusetts academic standards and assessments. 2. Students must complete all coursework within the calendar structure of the district unless permission is granted by the administration in advance. 3. If the class taken serves as one of the seven classes required by the district, the student is required to be in attendance in the district building for a regularly scheduled period as they would in any other academic class. 4. The above (V3) is also true if the online offering is a course being taken as a make- up for a previously failed course. Easton School Committee Page 4 of 5

5 5. Exception: If the online class is being taken in addition to regular classwork for the purpose of enrichment and not as a make up class, the seat time requirement may be waived provided it is approved by the administration and the student demonstrates adequate grades and progress in the course. 6. The student and parents/guardian must sign a contract for participation in any virtual school course. VI. Costs and Access for Virtual Coursework 1. The school district is able to offer a limited number of seats within the virtual high school. The district will pay for all costs for any course being delivered via VHS, up to the allotted number of available slots. The cost of an AP Exam is the student s responsibility and processed through the OAHS guidance department. 2. The classroom space allotted within the school building for virtual classroom access shall be determined by the building administration. 3. The technology necessary for virtual classes accessed from within the school building and during regular school hours will be provided by the school district. Technology necessary for classes accessed outside of the school building is the responsibility of the student. Adopted: 5/21/15 Easton School Committee Page 5 of 5

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