The Bangor Township Virtual School serves various types of students, for various different reasons, from various parts of the 6 counties it serves. In a recent article of the Report Card, we discussed why students choose the Bangor Township Virtual School as an alternative to their traditional settings. In this article, however, we will discuss the current state of the school, student numbers and demographics, course offerings, future courses, summer school, the structure of our schedule, and define a student in good standing.
The staff here is always asked how many previous traditional Bangor students are now at the virtual school. In other words, how many students have left John Glenn, Christa McAuliffe, or one of the elementary schools to join the online world of education? Out of our spring count, we have a total of 79 students. Of those 79 students, 32 are previous JGHS students, 11 are previous CMMS students, and 1 is a previous BTS elementary student. That is a total of 44 who chose to stay in our district, but needed an alternative setting to find success in their education. The other 35 students at BTVS come from places such as Millington Schools, Reese Schools, Carrolton Schools, Valley Lutheran, Peace Lutheran, Freeland Schools, Bridgeport Schools, Heritage High School, Standish Schools, Bay City Central and Western, All Saints, Great Lakes Bay Early College, Washtenaw Technical Middle College, and even some home school groups. As the word continues to spread that we have a solid and rigorous product to offer, we will continue to grow. The goal is to surpass 100 students in the fall of the 2017-2018 school year, and provide the best online option for students in the region.
What draws students to BTVS is that we offer an array of courses on two different programs that allow students to branch from the traditional elective offerings found at most brick and mortar schools. Also, we offer all of the State of Michigan Department of Education required courses at each grade level, and the 18 credits required for graduation on both programs. You can view a full catalog for our Connexus and GradPoint programs at www.btvs.org under current students. To highlight a few, here are some courses offered in each program:
We are planning to offer quite a bit more in the fall with the addition of partnership courses (you can read about these in another article in this edition). We have a fitness center at the Edison building that we plan to build fitness courses around. As well, we plan to develop outdoor survival, social media journalism, yearbook, Google tools, and more. We have surveyed our students for suggestions, and plan to incorporate more ideas in the future. One such idea that will go into effect immediately is summer school for credit recovery courses. The summer school will operate like any other where students will come into the Edison Administration building to utilize the lab at BTVS to complete their course work. The rules behind seat-time waivers do not allow distance learning for summer school unfortunately.
In addition to courses, we have developed a structuring system designed to aid student success. In many online schools, students are given one due date at the end of the semester in which all course work is due. What tends to happen is that students typically procrastinate until the very end. Grades, learning, growth, and retention tends to suffer when students do this. As a way to combat this issue, we have developed a system of checks that will go into effect in the fall of next school year. Each course will be broken up into quarters so that students must complete 25% of each course per month in which the grade will be entered as a weight of the overall score. The table below shows an example of how each course might be graded and weighted:
An additional piece to structure of the virtual school is the definition of student in good standing. A student in good standing is as follows:
· Passing each of their 7 courses at all times
· Maintains progress by meeting required weekly percent in ALL courses
· Have not been suspended in the 2016-2017 school year
· Have not violated the Academic Fraud policy
· Attended and completed all required State and District Assessments
· Have less than 12 recorded days without logging into their virtual program
· Have completed the two-way communication requirements for the count period
· Have all fees associated with BTVS paid in full, including breakfast/lunch accounts
This policy ensures that students are to be held accountable for their education and actions as a virtual learner with the Bangor Township Virtual School in order to remain with the program.