Registration for the new school year begins Monday, and can be completed at www.bradleyvirtualschool.org. Orientation for the virtual school will be held Aug. 5 and 6.
Bradley County Virtual School coordinator Rachael Wilson said many of the students from last year will be returning to the school.
In its pilot year last year, BCVS had 42 students. Wilson said half of them are returning. The coordinator would like to have 75 students next school year.
“ We are still working with part-time teachers, so you ... sort of have to balance the numbers,” Wilson said.
A few changes are being made to the program based on last year’s experiences. Face to face time at the BCVS offices between students and parents will be less. However, tutoring opportunities at the office will still be available.
“We are expanding our math tutoring,” Wilson said.
Math tutoring will be available to BCVS students two nights a week. Language arts and science tutoring will offered once a week. Students will still communicate with teachers via phone, email and Web conferencing.
After reviewing data from last year and in light of anticipated growth, the program has hired two more part-time teachers at the middle school level. One will teach math and the other will teach language arts.
Wilson said students will still have an annual field trip.
The virtual school opportunity is open to any student in Bradley County.
“We are a choice school for parents who are looking for something different for their kids,” Wilson said.
Students who do well in the virtual school setting, according to Wilson, are those who are “self-motivated” and whose parents are highly involved.
Wilson said having other opportunities such as sports or theater also lends to success. Wilson said there are some students involved in these local activities. BCVS students are allowed to participate in extracurricular activities, except for sports, that take place after school at the school for which they are zoned. So far none of the virtual school students have taken advantage of this opportunity.
The school provides a framework structure much like home schooling, but with the added benefit of an accredited diploma, Wilson said. Last year enough students previously not attending Bradley County Schools joined the program to bring in enough state funding to cover the cost of the program.
Most BCVS students are in middle school and high school. Wilson said most of the high school students are returning, as are about half the middle school students.
For the 2013-14 school year, BCVS will have seven juniors returning for their senior year.
“Middle school students, unless they have that real support from a parent at home, they tend to really struggle,” Wilson said.
However, it can be a good avenue for students struggling with social issues, according to Wilson.
An anonymous survey filled out by participating parents shows most families have had a good experience with the program.
Students are required to complete four hours of classwork a day. Allowances are made for students who work at a faster pace. Wilson said there was one student who completed the sixth grade in a semester rather than a full year.
“That’s sort of the idea behind virtual school ... if you can work faster and you can comprehend it, then go ahead,” Wilson said.
BCVS students receive the same financial assistance toward dual enrollment classes as traditional students. Bradley County Schools allows students two dual enrollment classes for free per semester.
Those wishing to participate in the program must have high-speed Internet and a printer. Parents and students are also required to attend information and orientation meetings.