The Bradley County Board of Education voted Monday to accept Director of Schools Johnny McDaniel’s recommendation for the school.
“It’s a very challenging program I can assure you, but it does present opportunity to children who may have a special way they want to learn,” board chairman Charlie Rose said.
McDaniel said the virtual school, where most work is done online, could provide a good option for parents interested in home schooling their children.
Board member Vicki Beaty asked how data would be gathered to determine progress, and if changes are needed.
Student achievement will be measured by certified Bradley County teachers working with the virtual school, according to McDaniel.
“We do have a component of face time, where it really requires that the parent come in with the student at least once a month,” McDaniel said. “We want to monitor, we want to make sure that want we’re providing is meeting the needs of the students enrolled.”
Zoe Renfro, alternative and adult education district coordinator, will serve as principal for the virtual school.
“We will have all of the data just like at other schools. We will pull back, look at the data. Where is it that we’re falling short? Where do we need to add to our curriculum?” Renfro said.
The ODYSSEYWARE software curriculum gives teachers flexibility to change what is required for the students, according to Renfro.
All state-required tests will be given in a more traditional classroom setting with a Bradley County teacher giving the tests.
The start date for the virtual school will be Aug. 6. Students must complete 32.5 hours of class work online each week.
To qualify, parents and students must have a computer with high-speed Internet and a printer, as well as attend information and orientation meetings. They also must submit an application.
This option could be available to students from third- to 12th-grade who meet the other requirements, Renfro said. This option would also give advanced students the opportunity to work ahead and graduate early. The program, if implemented, would be provided free of charge to students.
McDaniel said this would not be the best option for all students, but would offer something else to choose from.
Students enrolled in Bradley County Virtual School would be considered students of Bradley County Schools for funding and possibly extracurricular activity purposes. The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association does not allow virtual school students to participate on sports teams through their host school systems. However, this issue is scheduled to be discussed at an upcoming meeting and the Bradley board feels TSSAA will change the rules to allow participation.
Bradley County Virtual School will not replace any of the other current alternative education opportunities offered by Bradley County Schools. If TSSAA allows virtual students to play sports, Bradley County will let virtual students be a part of sports teams. Other extracurricular after-school activity participation would be allowed.
Another virtual school, Tennessee Virtual Academy, has also offered this opportunity to students. Tennessee Virtual Academy is not affiliated with Bradley County Schools, and is run out of Union county.