Distance High School Learning in Missouri
If a student wishes to take a course not offered at his or her high school in [wikipop]Missouri[/wikipop], where can they go? Many high schools are cutting back due to economic reasons so electives such as courses in the arts are often cut. In addition high quality math and science teachers are becoming more difficult to recruit and retain, especially by small rural or at risk districts. The need exists in Missouri for a method of supplementing the courses that are available in the local high school. In addition to this more and more parents want to provide an opportunity for their children to complete high school without the stresses of bullying or without the concerns that physical disabilities bring in a normal high school setting. Technology has provided one source of additional course offerings through distance education in online courses offerings. Many states have developed online distance learning programs through online providers of virtual high school coursework. In Missouri, the program is called the Missouri Virtual Instructional Program, MoVIP.
MoVIP, Missouri’s state run online school program, is facilitated by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. There are indications that this program is being phased out in 2011 since [wikipop search=”Jay Nixon”]Governor Jay Nixon[/wikipop] recently removed the state funding for the program (Martin, 2010)1. MoVIP currently is still offering courses but on a tuition basis with parents bearing the costs of the program. The state run program provides high school courses to over 1600 Missouri students and grants them credit through their home school districts. According to their literature, MoVIP’s mission is” …to offer Missouri students equal access to a wide range of high quality courses, flexibility in scheduling, and interactive online learning that is neither time nor place dependent”(MoVIP, 2011)2. End of Course Exams and MAP tests are taken by the students to validate their progress. Students take coursework through online courses provided by five different vendors but facilitated through MoVIP. The MoVIP program is for K-12 and students take the courses during semesters of work, similar to an ordinary high school in Missouri. Certified Missouri school teachers supposedly monitor the student’s progress and facilitate the online learning but few of the vendors listed seem to be located within Missouri. 172 courses in total are listed as available at the MoVIP site, of which 99 are high school level. For the 2010-11 school year 19 AP course were offered. The vendors used to provide the actual online coursework include Florida’s Virtual online program, Missouri Council for Economic Education, Aventa, Connections Academy and the North Kansas City School District. Parents select courses from an online catalogue, enroll through MoVIP but pay and arrange services with the vendor directly. As of fall of 2010, MoVIP was seeking partnerships with school districts to provide their own teachers to oversee the students learning virtually within their district. Whether this will continue and result in the decentralization of MoVIP remains to be seen. The current cost for each course through MoVIP is $300-400 per semester, not including textbooks, software programs or lab supplies. Course fees were being paid for by DESE for students who are medically fragile and even this funding will stop due to the recent budget cuts imposed by Governor Nixon. Predictions are that the entire MoVIP program will fade out of existence.
Other virtual online high school courses are available to Missouri students including the University of Missouri High School and Greenway Academy, an online charter school, both of which offer program drastically different from that provided by MoVIP3. University of Missouri High School prefers to work with the individual school to address the course needs online for courses that are not able to be offered by the individual school4 . Greenway began as a school for students who dropped out or had learning issues in traditional high school settings and has evolved into a hybrid of home schooling and online instruction. In addition to these providers of online high school coursework, the private schools have begun consolidating their needs online. If a teacher is available in one school, say in Kansas City who is willing and able to teach AP chemistry they develop an online course for other schools in their consortium or network. Options still exist in Missouri for online high school coursework but have been constrained by the loss of funding which limits the use to those who can afford to pay for the services themselves. This leaves the majority of Missouri students with their local public school as their only option for their high school coursework.
- Martin, C. (2010, August 23). Teachers Sue over Contracts: Breach alleged in MoVIP cuts. Columbia Daily Tribune. [↩]
- Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education. (2011). MoVIP: General Information. Retrieved February 11, 2011, from MoVIP: Missouri Virtual Instruction Program: http://www.movip.org/gen_info.html [↩]
- Greenways Academy. (2009). Welcome to Greenways Acacemy Website. Retrieved February 3, 2011, from Greenways Academy: http://greenwaysacademy.com/ [↩]
- MU High School. (2011). Retrieved February 1, 2011, from Center for Distance & Independent Study: Univeristy of Missouri: http://cdis.missouri.edu/high-school.aspx [↩]
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