Monday, December 14, 2009

Virtual High School Expands into New Jersey

Virtual High School, a non-profit distance-learning program that began in Massachusetts, recently expanded into New Jersey, according to the Courier-Post in Cherry, Hill, New Jersey. Palmyra High School became one of the latest to begin using the program which began 13 years ago and this semester includes 12,000 students in 150 courses and 347 course sections in more than 650 schools in 31 states and 34 countries.

"We really pioneered it and are a global consortium,” said Carol Arnold, a spokeswoman for VHS. “Our kids have to work with people in other parts of the world and collaborate online. We also have a rigorous professional development program to ensure the quality of our coursework."

The VHS courses are designed to supplement courses offered at a school. They run for 15-week semesters with reading assignments and other assignments online. Students participate in class discussions through threads and blogs.

A school pays a membership fee--$6,500--to free a teacher to teach the course and enroll 25 students. Schools pay a higher fee if they don’t have a teacher who can teach the course.

"It broadens the curriculum a lot,” said Thomas Anderson, a district curriculum director and VHS site coordinator at Collingswood High School in New Jersey, one of the first schools in New Jersey to offer the program. “We could offer many courses we don't offer here, including AP and computer science classes."

Collingswood offers classes in the Holocaust, psychology, zoology, criminology and American multiculturalism. Others have taken music appreciation, AP physics and AP calculus. Other cities in New Jersey who are adopting the program are Pitman, Gloucester City and Camden County Technical Schools.

For more information about Virtual High School see