Online programs helping high school students succeed
The South Dakota Board of Education received updates Monday during its regularly scheduled meeting on two online programs that create rigor and relevance for high school students.
The South Dakota Virtual School provides expanded course offering to students through online studies. It gives students the opportunity to take more Advanced Placement courses, study highly specialized subjects, or receive tailored remedial instruction.
In 2011-2012, 133 public school districts and school systems participated in South Dakota Virtual School. That’s up from 88 just three years ago. More than 2,900 full- or part-time students in grades 6-12 use the system, for a total of 3,822 semester registrations.
“Especially in many of the smaller districts in the state, schools may not be able to pay a full-time teacher in advanced or highly specialized subjects,” said curriculum specialist Erin Larsen. “The South Dakota Virtual School gives students those same opportunities, increasing the rigor and relevance of their high school education.”
Currently, there are 364 semester course offerings through South Dakota Virtual School, with 24 AP courses and 82 credit recovery courses. In the future, the virtual school will expand to offer more courses at the middle-school level.
Another program, South Dakota MyLife, is an online career development tool that encourages students to explore careers through interest inventories and skills assessments. Students can then research careers they are matched with and save that data to their online portfolios. With that knowledge, they can use their profiles to plan their academic programs and track their goals.
“SDMyLife usage is really high right now,” said Tiffany Sanderson, career and technical education administrator in the Department of Education. “Overall usage has been steadily climbing since we introduced the site four years ago. It’s a good indication that students have access to the resources they need for success in high school and preparation for life after 12th grade.”
Completion of the online interest inventories has allowed the state’s education analysts to compare student interest data with workforce needs so teachers and counselors can educate students regarding relevant opportunities in South Dakota. In a related study, it was discovered that students completing career and technical education programs graduated and continued to the postsecondary level at a higher rate than the average student population.