Published Monday, February 18, 2013
By REBECCA LEFTWICH
Guidelines have been finalized, principals and counselors have prepared informational material for career planning guides and Coweta County high schools are prepared to offer students a chance to participate in a virtual learning pilot program for the 2013-14 school year.
“The pilot is ready,” Superintendent Steve Barker said. “When students start registering, we’re ready to start talking to them one-on-one.”
Current trends in college, university and workplace education necessitate the Coweta County School System’s foray into virtual learning, Barker said.
“The fact is that [virtual learning] is a component at our colleges and universities, and I am hearing from our workforce that it needs to be a work component as well,” Barker said. “We need to have the ability to provide an education to students that isn’t always within the four walls of a classroom on a school campus.”
Virtual learning provides students a rigorous, on-line, teacher-led virtual classroom environment, Barker said. Coweta high schools will pilot such courses to eligible students via the Georgia Virtual School, which is a program of the Georgia Department of Education’s Office of Technology Services.
Virtual learning is the newest addition to the Coweta County School System’s service model for high school students, who are being offered an increasing number of ways to receive educational services – ranging from traditional classroom instruction to work-based learning and online courses – as they move toward graduation.
While traditional classroom instruction still makes up the largest share of students’ high school experience, the growth of non-traditional learning service delivery models is expected to continue to grow in coming years, and should be considered as the school system works to maximize current school facilities, Barker said.
Other school learning service delivery models available to Coweta County students include:
• Traditional on-campus classroom instruction at East Coweta, Newnan and Northgate, the county’s base high schools.
• Traditional or specialized high-school courses taken at Central Educational Center charter school.
• Dual-enrollment courses – classes that earn students credit toward a high school diploma and post-secondary credits – at West Georgia Technical College, the University of West Georgia or other partnering higher-education institutions. These courses have the added benefit of being able to save parents thousands of dollars in future tuition costs.
• Work-based leaning and apprenticeship courses with businesses that earn students credit towards graduation and career-field experience.
• The Performance Learning Center and other special programs which allow students to take credit classes at their own pace.
• Early graduation opportunities whereby eligible students complete graduation requirements after the fall semester of their senior year.
That array of options is allowing for greater flexibility during a student’s high school experience, and is altering the demands on space at the three base Coweta County high schools during the day.
High school enrollment is expected to grow by about 550 students across the county over the next three years, based on current trends. East Coweta High is expected to grow from 2,805 students currently to 3,066 in 2015. Newnan High is expected to grow from 2,237 students currently to 2,444 in 2015. Northgate High is expected to grow from 1,805 students currently to 1,890 in 2015.