Just weeks after a study showed that students enrolled in Tennessee Virtual Academy are learning less than their peers, Metro Nashville Public Schools is touting the success of its virtual school.
Some 400 high school students are currently enrolled in Metro's online classes, so Channel 4 went to take a look at how the program is helping students graduate.
Students at Nashville School of the Arts have the same graduation requirements as any other high schooler across the state. In fact, they have more.
"We have students that have gone to Yale, to Harvard to UT," said Dr. Gregory Stewart, executive principal at Nashville School of the Arts.
The state of Tennessee requires students to complete 22.5 credits in order to graduate, including four in English, four in math and three in science.
At NSA, they need 28.
And that's where the MNPS Virtual School comes in.
Senior student Katja Vujic needed a few more credits to graduate, but finding the time would have been virtually impossible until enrolling in virtual courses.
"There are tests and quizzes to take, and then there's also generally like writing assignments," she said.
Joshua Wilbur, also a senior, has taken six virtual courses.
"I've actually gotten a lot of the credits out of the way doing this kind of virtual school," he said. "You really have to balance out 'when is this paper due?' 'When is this worksheet due?' When can I go to performances?'"
Earlier this year, Metro boosted the WiFi at NSA so students can pretty much go anywhere in the school during their down time or lunch and take a number of online classes from economics to government to world history.
"Students really develop life skills," said Dr. James Witty, principal of the MNPS Virtual School.
And if you think it's too easy, Witty says think again.
"Last year, we had the highest overall EOC gains in the entire district. We're an achieving school. We're one of the highest achieving schools in MNPS," he said.
Unlike Tennessee Virtual Academy, an online for-profit school, Witty said the key to the district's success is its wide access.
"I think, because we're housed in a public school, students have access to all those supports and interventions that is proving to impact student achievement at our school," he said.
"We're living in the 21st Century, and our society is, in many respects, 100 percent virtual. And, therefore, we are preparing them for that piece of the future as well," Stewart said.
Starting this week, students can register for the spring semester in the MNPS Virtual School.
For more information, including a full list of classes, visit: http://www.mnps.org/Page72732.aspx.
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