Virginia high school students who are looking to get a head start on, say, business law or a swoon-worthy foreign language (college girls love Swahili!) now have the opportunity.
Virginia education officials have approved 13 virtual-school programs that can provide online instruction to public school students, starting this September.
The state Department of Education announced Monday that school divisions will be able to contract with the approved providers to expand course offerings through virtual-school programs, such as Apex Learning, BYU Independent Study and Chesterfield County Public Schools.
Gov. Bob McDonnell advocated the expansion of virtual schools in his education agenda.
"No Virginia child’s future should be limited by the walls of a particular school building or the boundaries of an attendance zone," McDonnell said in a release. "Virtual schools create additional choices and opportunities within our public education system."
Thanks to the online programs, Virginia public schools will be able to offer the unusual classes that make colleges take notice, as well as more AP classes, which local private schools often use as a selling point.
The virtual schools will offer instruction aligned with the commonwealth’s Standards of Learning (SOL) and delivered by teachers fully licensed by the Virginia Board of Education, according to the Board's website.
The Virginia Department of Education has provided its students with distance-learning opportunities in the past, with the Virginia Satellite Education Network (VSEN), which launched in the 1980s, and later, Virtual Virginia.
Local school divisions will post on their websites information about the online courses and programs they offer -- including when the division will pay course fees and other costs for nonresident students and the granting of high school credit -- by July 1, 2011.