10.20.11 Online School Off to Good Start
The Nebraska Virtual Partnership made a progress report to the Nebraska Legislature’s Education Committee and the outlook is good.
The Nebraska Virtual Partnership was created this year to expand educational opportunities for high school students throughout Nebraska. The partnership is a collaborative effort by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Independent Study High School, the Nebraska Department of Education, the Educational Service Unit Coordinating Council and Nebraska Educational Telecommunications.
The goal of this first report is to see how the partnership is doing to expand course offerings and educational opportunities across the state.
Barbara Shousha, director of Independent Study, said 74 applications were received as of Sept. 2, when admissions closed.
“Clearly there is a need and desire,” said Shousha.
08.12.11 Nebraska Launches Plan for State-Led Virtual School
Gov. Dave Heineman and Nebraska education leaders announced the creation of the Nebraska Virtual Partnership, and outlined plans for the creation of the Nebraska Virtual School and the Nebraska Virtual Library systems. Efforts of the Nebraska Virtual Partnership will significantly increase educational opportunities for students throughout the state.
The proposed school would allow students across the state the chance to take advanced courses or catch up on required classes through online courses.
The announcement follows three failed efforts to get federal or state funding for creation of a virtual school.
“This is a significant step forward for the future of education in Nebraska,” said Gov. Heineman. “The Virtual School will provide Nebraska students a rigorous online high school curriculum with an emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math."
Through the Virtual Scholars program, the Independent Study High School at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will offer 50 free course enrollments to high schools across Nebraska.
No time frame was given for the opening of the state-led virtual school.
06.22.11 Study Spurs Renewed Talk About a Virtual School for Nebraska
Nebraska needs to join the virtual school movement.
That's the bottom line of a report prepared by Lance Izumi of the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy.
"There are no snow days — no flood days either,” said Izumi.
The virtual school report, commissioned by the Platte Institute for Economic Research, was unveiled during an Omaha education conference.
Gov. Dave Heineman proposed a $20 million virtual high school that would focus on science, technology, engineering and math courses, making them available to students in more remote areas and to struggling urban youth. It would be affiliated with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Independent Study High School.
State officials hoped to fund it with a federal Race to the Top grant, but Nebraska's application was rejected twice.
Nebraska Education Commissioner Roger Breed told the Omaha World-Herald talks about opening a virtual school have continued, and he hopes the state can someday make it a reality, though the state may have to cover the costs.
He agreed with the report's conclusion that Nebraska could become a national leader in virtual education.
The report says virtual education helps students from failing schools who need to make up classes, want to earn their GED, are in the juvenile corrections system, need extra help or want to take more advanced-placement and college-level classes.
In Nebraska, Izumi said, a school could address a shortage of math, technology and science teachers in rural areas, providing quality online instruction instead of leaving students in the hands of under-qualified teachers.
More than one-third of all Nebraska high schools are in rural or remote areas, and those schools enroll more than half the state's public elementary and secondary students, the report notes.
01.14.11 Lottery Money Recommended for Development of Virtual High School
In his state of the state address, Gov. Dave Heineman recommended allocating $8.5 million of lottery funds to develop a Nebraska Virtual High School, in conjunction with the University of Nebraska.
This "is a noteworthy opportunity for students in our rural schools to broaden their academic coursework to take classes that may not be offered in" rural areas, said state Sen. Sen. Lydia Brasch, who represents Nebraska's 16th District, which is in the northeastern part of the state.
Currently, Nebraska does not have a virtual charter school that offers courses to students throughout the state.
Heineman also recommended that state aid to schools in 2012 will remain at at $810 million, which is essentially status-quo state funding. He added that his budget calls for an additional $50 million for schools 2013.
Heineman said no school district should be surprised by that level of funding.
Nebraska education officials hoped to use federal "Race to the Top" money to create a state-led vitural school. But the state didn't make it to the finalists' round.
"We knew it was a long shot," Kandy Imes, chairwoman of the Nebraska Board of Education, told the Omaha World-Herald.
Click here to read more about what Nebraska plans to do now.
In 2011, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman announced plans to launch a state-led virtual school. The virtual school will be operated by the Nebraska Virtual Partnership. In addition to the Virtual School, the Nebraska Virtual Partnership will establish the Nebraska Virtual Library.
The council has designated myelearning.org of Nebraska to implement a web-based learning management system. In June 2008, the Partnerships for Innovation (PFI), a collaboration between Nebraska elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools, received state money to use online curriculum from the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education (MITE) and make it available statewide to all grades for three years.
Nebraska does not have a virtual charter school that offers courses to students throughout the state.