Virginia students soon may be able to get their public high school diploma without ever stepping inside a school for classes.
The state Department of Education this fall will offer a program offering a full-time, online high school on a first-come basis. If the pilot, open to 100 students across the state, proves successful, officials could make the program permanent and open it to additional students.
The school will be run through the state’s Virtual Virginia online class program, which features state-approved curriculum and state-employed teachers.
Created in 2002, the online program has received national recognition and provided coursework to more than 40,000 Virginia students.
The virtual school pilot program is designed to provide students a way to receive a public high school diploma without attending traditional classes, except for certain exams. That, officials say, would open opportunities for a public education to home-schooled students and those who do not perform well in classroom environments.
“We are excited to offer this opportunity to high school students, especially those with the potential for thriving in a nontraditional instructional setting,” said Steven R. Staples, state superintendent of public instruction. “This expansion of the Virtual Virginia program provides more choice and flexibility to students seeking a high school diploma.”
Students in the pilot program will enroll through the guidance office of their local public schools but receive online instruction through Virtual Virginia. The local schools will ensure access to technology, textbooks, special services and other necessary materials at no cost to students.
Diplomas earned through the program will be issued by the local high school through which the student enrolled.