Virtual-class pilot lands at two local schoolsDebbie Griffin photo Meyer Middle School Acting Principal Mark Chapin and high school Principal Elaine Baumann will help monitor the virtual-class pilot program that started in the River Falls School District this year.
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
A pilot program for online education brings up to 10 students additional learning opportunities via the Web during the 2010-2011 school year.
The virtual-education class pilot program comes as part of the River Falls School District’s strategic plan.
Though virtual class is a future goal, school district officials decided to roll out a small version of it in order to gather feedback and see how it works.
The pilot has room for four Meyer Middle School and six high school students. They all go through the Wisconsin Virtual School (WVS) for the classes and use a school computer to “attend.”
Middle school Acting Principal Mark Chapin and high school Principal Elaine Baumann explain that through approval from the state’s Department of Public Instruction and a partnership with Cooperative Educational Service Agency 9, WVS has become the state’s official virtual academy.
The concept came up quickly at the beginning of school but is off and running.
Chapin said all four students participating at the middle school take geometry. The online classes give a new challenge to 8th graders who have mastered algebra.
“That’s the idea,” said Chapin, using algebra versus geometry as an example, “to challenge kids beyond what you have in the building.”
He said it makes the most sense to offer math since that is probably the toughest subject in which to offer accelerated material. Former MMS Principal Mike Johnson said the kids were selected to take part in the pilot based on their past performance and how much they excelled at 6th and 7th grade math.
At the high school, students can take advanced classes not offered through the regular curriculum: Art history, biology, chemistry, computers, computer science, environmental science, European history, French, macroeconomics, microeconomics, physics, Spanish, statistics, government/politics and world history.
“It is designed to be a college-level class,” Baumann said.
Most of the high school offerings are advanced placement classes -- which bring not only additional challenges but also in some cases, college credit. She says the AP classes also include a post course test to assess a student’s skill and knowledge.
The principal said for now there is one student taking an online course, but she expects all the slots to fill as word gets around about the new offering. She said students interested in enrolling should talk to their school counselor.
For more on this story, please see the Sept. 16 print edition of the River Falls Journal.