The George Washington University Online High School (GWUOHS) has launched a full-time middle school and a new Advanced Placement (A.P.) Excellence Program for part-time students for the 2013-14 academic year.
GWUOHS was established in 2011 to provide a private, academically rigorous experience for high school students seeking an online education. The school was conceived through a partnership with GW’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development (GSEHD) and K12, a technology-based company that specializes in virtual learning. Since its start, GWUOHS has enrolled more than 130 students from all over the world.
The new A.P. Excellence and Middle School Programs add to GWUOHS’s 100 college preparatory classes and electives in business, science, technology and liberal arts. The middle school option offers students in grades six through eight more than 30 courses, as well as the choice between an honors or general comprehensive curriculum track. A full-time adviser will guide students and their families throughout the entire program.
“The middle school program gives us the opportunity to get students working in an online environment early on so they are better prepared for transitioning to high school,” said Maria Coyle, associate head of school.
Although GWUOHS already offers A.P. classes for its full-time students, Robert Ianacone, the liaison between GWUOHS and GW, explained that the new A.P. Excellence Program addresses the needs of students who are not enrolled in GWUOHS full-time but wish to supplement their education with challenging course material that will better prepare them for post-secondary opportunities. Students can choose from the school’s 15 A.P. courses in English, history, math and science.
“Some areas of the country may not have enough students, certified teachers or resources to offer A.P. classes,” he said. “Our online option provides the opportunity and the support academically oriented students need to take these classes independently.”
Dr. Ianacone and his team began conducting research last year to evaluate the feasibility of offering A.P. coursework to part-time students and a full-time middle school program. Dr. Ianacone shared that virtual learning can be beneficial because it “better prepares students for a college environment, where you have to work independently and often online. This experience ingrains the kinds of skills students will need in their post-secondary careers.”
Both initiatives were approved by the GWUOHS advisory board, which is made up of representatives from K12 and leaders at GW, including Provost Steven Lerman and GSEHD Dean Michael Feuer. The board meets twice a year to evaluate the school’s progress and discuss potential initiatives.
The middle school program starts in September with 10 to 20 students enrolled, a number that will increase over time. GWUOHS currently has full-time advisers, college counselors, an associate head and head of school dedicated to both the middle and high school, and K12 is working collaboratively with GWUOHS to provide additional teaching support. As the program evolves, GWUOHS will hire more staff specifically dedicated to the middle school.
GWUOHS is still accepting applications for fall enrollment. Classes begin on Sept. 4. To learn more or enroll, call 877-382-2015 or visit www.gwuohs.com.