Source: Sherman Publications

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Virtual Learning Academy Consortium

by Susan Bromley

August 29, 2012

Students around Michigan go "back to school" this week, but that doesn't necessarily mean children are leaving their homes.

Oakland Schools is providing a free online program to children in grades Kindergarten through eighth grade who learn best in a non-traditional classroom.

This is the inaugural year for the Virtual Learning Academy Consortium, which provides the accredited Calvert curriculum, teacher support and all materials required for a full-year of instruction, at no cost to students and parents who reside in Oakland, Genesee, Lapeer, Livingston, Washtenaw and Wayne counties.

"The Virtual Learning Academy Consortium is an online program directed to home-based learning, or for people interested in pursuing homeschooling," said Danelle Gittus of Oakland Schools. "We wanted to make sure parents in our community had a quality option. Calvert has proven itself to be a high quality option."

Students and their parents receive all materials necessary to participate in the program, including a computer, printer and internet connection. Additionally, they will receive textbooks, novels, science kits, and additional activities for offline instruction time.

The curriculum is comprehensive and rigorous, and is not an add-on to traditional curriculum. Students who are attending traditional schools are not eligible for the program.

"It's completely aligned with standards used in brick and mortar school buildings," said Gittus. "There will be options where teachers hold interactive study online, but it's not required."

The consortium assigns one teacher to every 40 students online to make sure students are on-task and there is additional teacher support.

Families should be able to commit to about 5 hours of home-based learning daily and be comfortable with the idea of teaching from home, Gittus added.

Oakland Schools obtained a seat time waiver from the state in order to provide the Virtual Learning Academy Consortium and hopes to offer a high school program for the 2013-14 school year.

Students in K-8 must register for the Virtual Learning Academy Consortium by enrolling by Sept. 7 in a participating school district. The district consequently receives per-pupil funding from the state even though VLAC students are not in the traditional classrooms.

For more information or to register your student, visit www.virtuallearningacademyconsortium.org or call 888-638-8949.