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Virtual high school coming to CMS soon

By Ann Doss Helms
ahelms@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will roll out a virtual high school as early as this year, Superintendent Heath Morrison told the school board this week.

The school would allow students to take online classes without “coming to a brick-and-mortar school,” while maintaining an affiliation with their neighborhood school that would allow them to take part in sports and other activities, he said. Students in the virtual school would be supervised by teachers and could choose to return to a physical school for some classes.

Morrison acknowledged that some are wary of virtual schools, mainly because some virtual charter schools “have not served students at the level they should.”

Online education has been dominated by for-profit charter chains. Studies by the National Education Policy Center at University of Colorado Boulder have raised questions about weak student results and lack of oversight.

Morrison said the key to a CMS virtual school would be ensuring quality: “We want to move as fast as we can, as well as we can, to deliver quality.”

Online learning provides flexibility in study and pacing, with students required to demonstrate mastery in online testing to earn credit.

Some have questioned whether online students could have someone else take the tests. Morrison said they’d still report to a teacher, much like a college student working with an adviser. If it became clear the student didn’t know the material, credit could be revoked, he said.

“We can provide this virtual option better than any outside company can,” he said.

Helms: 704-358-5033 Twitter: @anndosshelms
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