MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – A student from Horry County says he is very upset.
He has just discovered that virtual learning is not an option for him next year.
The Horry County School Board made what many see as a difficult decision to disband the virtual program Monday night because too many students are failing their classes.
District data reveals that more than 40% of students enrolled in the virtual program fail one or more courses. These numbers represent students in grades K-12.
But students like Trent Spencer excel at online learning.
Spencer believes the district’s decision to end the program penalizes many of her peers who rely on the virtual environment.
He can’t believe the changes will happen just before he starts his senior year this fall
“I’m very sad and upset now that they did this to me last year,” Spencer said. “It would be like a new student if I entered there now. Even if 40% of students fail, we shouldn’t all be punished.
It’s an issue that district leaders went back and forth on Monday night. Some are reluctant to end the program while some students like Spencer are doing well.
But the number of failing students is still a big concern for leaders.
During the council’s Monday evening business session, senior district specialist for the Office of Learning Services, Lee James, presented about 100 slides, showing data reflecting student performance for all grades. He compared the number of virtual students who fail classes to those in the physical classroom.
“Students in the virtual program are twice as likely to fail one or more classes compared to their brick-and-mortar peers,” James said.
The presentation led to a roller coaster ride of votes and tied discussions.
In the end, a majority vote ended virtual learning starting next fall semester, with one major stipulation – the superintendent and program committee should create a viable new virtual learning plan in the year.
The decision leaves current virtual students like Spencer to weigh all of their learning options.
They can enroll in brick-and-mortar or choose a free online program with a charter school or state-sponsored school.
“I think I’m going to do a private school online somewhere else,” Spencer said.
The virtual program will be dissolved starting in the fall semester of the 2022-2023 school year.
Responsibility for the virtual result
Sherry East is president of the South Carolina Education Association.
East has experience teaching in a school environment that incorporates both the virtual and physical learning environment.
“We’ve always required students to come to class,” East said.
She commends HCS for making the difficult decision to end the virtual program in the 2022-2023 academic year, after reviewing the data.
“Particularly disturbing for those early years. I don’t think anything can replace real face-to-face education,” East said.
East says that going forward, there needs to be more focus on accountability and why so many students fail in a virtual learning environment. History does not repeat itself in the future.
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