Apparently the Hall County School Board took up the subject of adding virtual courses. While this may sound like the wave of the future, the skeptic in me asks, what’s in it for the school system? The Times and AccessNorthGa both reported on this issue and there are some interesting tidbits that popped up in their articles:
- “Education can be done at home at the pace of the student and parents” (AccessNorthGa)
- “Grades would be stored in the school that is in their district” (AccessNorthGa)
- “The expansion would likely be open to gradessixth through 10th” (Times)
If this program were designed with the consideration of transitioning the students into an online college environment, you would think that the expansion would be from 10th through the 12th grade. It is also interesting that parents are mentioned when it comes to the pace of the students and that the grades will be stored at the local schools.
I think I know what this is really about: capturing homeschoolers in the School systems headcount. By offering classes that can be used by people that home school, the county can probably boost their school numbers (hence grades being housed as their local school), thereby collecting more state revenue for students. Apparently, the home school population is continuing to rise at a rate of 2% to 8% per year for the past couple of years and there might be an issue of declining revenue as a result.
Or there is another thought, maybe the homeschooler could help the GPA. Statistics show that “homeschooled students’ GPAs are 15-30% higher than the average public school educated child.” Or maybe if the grades are housed at the local schools, standardized test scores can be averaged into the system since “The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests.”
While there may be a virtuous reason for expanding the virtual courses, when I consider the budget crunch our school system is under I have to think that there is some other rational behind the expense of the program.