Pasadena ISD Virtual School Opens Doors to 21st Century Learning
Posted on 05/28/2014
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The doors of education are opening wider due to expanded learning opportunities in Pasadena ISD.

With programs that extend beyond classrooms like Virtual School, Early College and Advanced Placement, students of all backgrounds are increasingly enrolling in courses that support their interests, provide flexibility and offer exciting pathways to success.

This article is part of a three-part series. We will explore the Early College and Advanced Placement programs in the near future.

Virtual School

The Pasadena Virtual School provides students with unlimited access to educational opportunities that span beyond traditional classroom instruction and connects them to a 21st century digital learning environment for secondary education.

This innovative program offers rigorous online courses to students throughout Pasadena ISD and the State of Texas in core subject areas that meet high school graduation requirements. Currently, there are about 30 courses available to Virtual School students including Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, English, Foundations of Personal Fitness, Government, Healthy, Music History, Principles in Informational Technology, Psychology, Sociology, Speech, Spanish I, II, III, US History, World Geography, and World History, to name a few.

These online courses have been developed with the same requirements as traditional high school courses to ensure that the curriculum maps to district, state and national standards.

Luci Weaver, Pasadena Virtual School manager, explained that Virtual School meets the needs of every student, from those who are interested in accelerating their academic program, taking courses not offered at their home school, have scheduling conflicts or are close to graduation and want to make up courses, the program gives students the opportunity to receive a quality education on their own terms and in the comfort of their own home.  

She said that flexibility, responsibility and compatibility are some essential components that have provided a positive experience for students.

“Virtual School is a flexible learning option for students that gives them the opportunity to take classes when they are ready,” Weaver said.

In 2005, Pasadena ISD emerged as a leader in providing Virtual School to students throughout Texas. Since its implementation, enrollment has dramatically increased from 24 to nearly 2,000 in-district students and 10,000 students throughout the state.

Students receive individualized instruction from experienced, certified and well-trained teachers as they work through the curriculum independently.

“They’re not just taking classes with the kid next door.” she said. “They get to collaborate with students from other parts of Texas, which is fitting since our motto is ‘learning without walls.’”

Weaver explained that there are some misconceptions about Virtual School.

“It’s not easier,” she said. “Like any class, the level of difficulty is based on how well students pace themselves and their study tactics. It’s like a college class.”

Weaver explained that some believe Virtual School courses will replace traditional classes, but this is not the case.

“Virtual School allows students to take traditional classes in addition to their online classes,” she said.

Virtual School has been developed to provide students with a collaborative learning environment of peers and teachers, which Weaver has found to not always be the case in traditional classrooms.

“There’s more interaction,” Weaver said. “We do partner projects. Students have to actively participate to make the grade and I get to learn things about my virtual kids that I would not learn about them otherwise.”

There are some requirements for those interested in teaching Virtual School classes.

“You must be certified in the subject you teach,” Weaver said. “You also have to take a web instructor certification course.”

Summer Virtual School

Students throughout the district have a wide variety of courses available to them through the Pasadena Virtual School and Texas Virtual School Network. Pasadena Virtual School is now offering classes in the summer. The session starts June 11 and ends July 30. The deadline to register is June 9. Virtual School courses are $100 per semester course for all Pasadena ISD students.  The fee is $250 for all students not currently enrolled in a Pasadena ISD campus. To sign up, visit the website:
www.pasadenavirtualschool.org.