Katy Virtual School brings online learning to students

Katy ISD trustees were updated at their March 20 board meeting on services provided by the Katy Virtual School.

Darlene Rankin, director of instructional technology, and Susan Richards, eLearning manager, spoke about the progress the school has made and plans for future accomplishments.

The need for the program arose from an increased number of junior high students who had to be transported to high schools for a pre-Advanced Placement geometry courses, according to KISD officials.

Benefits of the virtual school include offering an increased level of choice and flexibility to student learning, Rankin said. Producing budget-neutral operations, preparing students for postsecondary online education and creating collaborative teams for online educators were other positives outlined in the presentation.

Starting with two courses in 2011, the program has grown to include 27 online courses this school year. A variety of classes are offered, including AP and pre-AP courses such as government, psychology and calculus. The online offerings also encompass courses required for graduation, such as health, physical education and English.

The program uses Canvas, an online course-management system. The University of Texas, Baylor University, Rice University and several other Texas universities also use Canvas, Rankin said.

All courses provided by the virtual school align with courses in KISD curriculum. There are more than 60 KISD teachers involved in the program, either writing curriculum or teaching it, Richards said.

KVS has 1,683 KISD students enrolled in online courses. That number is expected to increase by almost 200 students next year, according to KVS projections.

The virtual school allows students the freedom to take classes while working summer jobs and traveling overseas, Richards said.


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