3,500 students navigate virtual classrooms at 3 Texas public online schools | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Grand Prairie News
- 3,500 students navigate virtual classrooms at 3 Texas public online schools
- By JEFFREY WEISS / The Dallas Morning News firstname.lastname@example.org
- Riley is one of about 3,500 Texas kids taking advantage of online public schools, a free alternative to brick-and-mortar education. These schools must meet the same state-mandated curriculum requirements and TAKS testing of students at any other public school in Texas.
- students enrolled in the state's three virtual public schools do much of their work – including readings, exams and live class participation – using the laptop computers supplied by the schools.
- And virtual education in Texas is not an unqualified success, based on the most recent TAKS scores. On several tests, all of the online schools lag behind state averages for passing rates. For instance, 77 percent of Texas fourth-graders passed their reading, math and writing tests last school year on their first try. The percentage of passing scores for the three virtual schools for all three tests ranged from 40 percent to 65 percent.
- In Texas, the online schools must affiliate with a standard school district or charter school. IQ Academy Texas and Texas Virtual Academy at Southwest are each linked to brick-and-mortar Texas charter schools. Texas Connections Academy is part of the Houston ISD.
- School funding from the state is linked to class completion and TAKS scores.
- Space permitting, the schools are open to any Texas student. And like all public schools, enrollment is free. Laptops and other educational material are distributed to each student. Parents generally need to supply a printer, a scanner and broadband Internet access. But formal and informal financial aid is often available for families who can't afford those virtual classroom necessities.
- Parents have quick online access to a comprehensive assessment of their child's progress, with test grades and copies of assignments, completed lessons and upcoming lesson plans.
- For the state-required benchmark and TAKS tests, each school holds regional, proctored exams that the students are required to attend in person. And several times a year, the schools host fun events where the kids get to meet the faces behind the online identities.