Distance Education

Ohio Gets New Virtual Public HS

A new virtual public high school is opening in Ohio this fall. The Ohio Digital Learning School (ODLS), authorized by the Ohio Council of Community Schools, will serve students ages 16 to 21 in grades 9-12. It is tuition-free.

Behind the scenes, K12 Inc. is serving as an online management provider, supplying curriculum and the online platform that the school will use, along with other services. The company already is involved in two other virtual high school charters in the state, Ohio Virtual Academy (K-12) and Destinations Career Academy at OHVA (9-12).

The newest school is intended to serve as a dropout prevention and recovery operation. Students will gain access to credit recovery courses, individualized learning programs, career planning and "highly targeted" remediation sessions to build specific skills. All teachers will be licensed in Ohio, many of them with a special education focus. Their interactions with students and families will take place via email, web-based classrooms, online discussions and phone.

While students will be expected to spend most of their school day online, the school stated, they'll also have offline work, including hands-on science experiments, reading novels and doing math problems without the computer.

Also, there will be face-to-face activities, such as optional community outings and student leadership opportunities. And students will be encouraged to connect with each other via online assemblies and clubs.

"The opening of ODLS significantly expands opportunities for students and families in a population that may need a little help in completing their high school diploma," said Elizabeth Roth, head of school for ODLS, in a statement. "We are committed to student success and will offer a high level of academic and emotional support for our students to help them to get and stay on track."

As of the 2016-2017 school year, almost 12.5 percent of Ohio's charter school enrollments — about 14,000 students — were in the dropout prevention and recovery charter system.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.