An Inside Look at the Georgia Virtual Academy
Here's an in-depth article from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution profiling one family which has enrolled its children in the Georgia Virtual Academy after deciding that online education is the right choice for them. The Georgia Virtual Academy has become one of the biggest in the nation, with about 4,400 middle and elementary school students.
Although enrollment in this school, and other online academies, is growing, some opponents of online education are worried about test scores from virtual schools. For example, at the Georgia Virtual Academy, 74 percent of 8th graders failed their state math test, compared with 38 percent of students in brick-and-mortar public schools, according to the article.
The school has addressed this problem by providing prep courses to help students prepare for the test, as well as information about the tests to parents and students, almost 40 percent of whom were previously home-schooled and may not have understood the importance of the tests, say representatives from the virtual school.
There are a couple of other concerns about virtual schools, such as the lack of daily social interaction that goes hand-in-hand with brick-and-mortar schools, and also, in the case of the Georgia Virtual Academy, there's not quite enough money to provide classes in the arts or foreign languages yet. The family profiled in the article explained that their children took extra lessons outside of school to supplement their education, but that might not be an option for all families.
At any rate, this article is a good read for those of you interested to see how online education is working, at least in one state. There are definitely some obstacles, and some advantages, but as the article says, it's just too new to have any hard-hitting data on what exactly the effects of virtual schooling are.
UPDATE: I mistakenly identified the school in the AJC article as the Georgia Virtual School. The article was actually talking about the Georgia Virtual Academy, which is a virtual charter school, NOT the Georgia Virtual School, which is run by the state. My apologies for this mistake, and thanks to those of you who brought it to my attention.