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All though Missouri’s new virtual education law will take some time to fully implement throughout the state, the only provider currently offering virtual classes through the new Missouri Course Access Program (MOCAP), Mizzou K-12 Online is excited about the opportunities the new law will provide Missouri students.
“This will help to push virtual education forward and make it more mainstream,” said Mizzou K-12 Online Director Zac March. “There is great content out there whether it ours or from other providers. This is a great opportunity for the new generation of kids.”
Mizzou K-12 has already seen big increases in enrollment, according to March.
“We probably have about a third more, maybe half more than what we had last year in enrollment,” March said earlier this month, noting that he expects Mizzou K-12 to continue to see enrollment increasing through mid-September.
“As districts settle in many will see that they need to fill some holes and we can provide a solution,” said March.
Mizzou K12 offer’s its online courses through an asynchronous model, meaning that students can view the videos and do coursework at any time they would like and do not have to attend an online “classroom” at the same time as other students. Students typically have six months to complete a course, but most students complete courses in three to four months.
“We have enrollments every day of the year,” said March. “We are really a 356 day a year school with kids coming in and graduating virtually every day. The only courses that have to follow a traditional semester basis are Advanced Placement (AP) courses because of when the AP exams are.”
March said Missou K12 is already offering a large number of AP courses and is focused on expanding the offerings over the next three years.
“We got funding from the University of Missouri President’s Office to extend out AP course offerings,” said March. “Over the next 2 years, we will be putting out more new AP courses and also looking at dual enrollment options. In 2 years I think most of the AP courses will be up and then in the last half of the third year we will be more focused on the dual credit courses.”
The virtual environment is also a great space for special needs students to get a quality education, according to March who said that about a third of their students in previous years had been considered medically fragile.
“There are students who just can’t go into a building for physical or mental issues but virtual education is a safe environment for them,” he said. “Our teachers are super caring individuals and there is counseling that they can help with. We have had kids who have said they could not have made it without us.”
March added that the teaching and counseling staff closely monitor coursework and submissions to watch out for any students who may need additional support.
“We reach out to the parent, to the student, or to the district as appropriate just to make sure the student is okay,” he said. “Sometimes I wonder if we don’t actually do a better job in the virtual world because so much of our communication is one to one between the student and the teacher. We may pick up stuff that is missed in a regular classroom if the student is shy and lost in the sea of other students. We find that many of our students blossom because they can really dive into their assignments. In an online environment, they can be themselves more.”
March said the new virtual education law will put Missouri in a position to more strongly compete with other states in terms of educational outcomes.
“Other states are further ahead of us in some aspects, but this will really help,” he said. “It is a great opportunity for a new generation of kids. The flexibility it offers used to be very reserved for athletes or students who have special situations, but this law it has opened the door for any kid to access it. Not just for homeschool kids, but now for kids who have full loads at traditional high schools and want to take another course to prepare them for college or a career. It is exciting to be where we are and where we are going to go in future years. It is going to be interesting to sit back and see how quickly things unfold and progress in the state of Missouri.”
Mizzou K-12 Online proudly offers high school AP courses designed to:
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