Valley Forge Military Academy, Online High School Join Forces to Overcome Educational Inequality

Mark Hostutler
By
Image via Valley Forge Military Academy.

With many Pennsylvania schools starting the academic year with virtual or hybrid classrooms, a new program offers paper-based textbook versions of the online curriculum for students without Internet access or computers.

A partnership between Valley Forge Military Academy and Citizens High School now enables accessibility for distant learners with virtual and paper-based textbooks to high school students across Pennsylvania.

Established as a partnership for online and distance learning excellence in 2020 between VFMA and Citizens High School, Valley Forge Military Academy Online High School (VFMA OHS) delivers accredited high school courses and diplomas to students seeking a leading-edge, affordable distance learning experience.

“While a great deal of planning has gone into managing education during these pandemic times, we know that there are still students who lack access to the tools they need to learn,” said  Dr. Paul Lea, Dean of Valley Forge Military Academy. “Lack of proper technology for students was brought to light in the spring when schools transitioned to online learning, exacerbating the achievement gap for students in low-income communities.”

In March, over the course of four days, VFMA successfully transitioned from 100 percent in-person instruction to 100 percent distance learning. Advanced planning for such a scenario enabled a rapid transition but it was not without challenge.

“Despite all the planning, there was still one student from Philadelphia who did not have Internet access,” said Dr. Lea. “When the libraries closed, so too did his opportunity to learn. The partnership with Citizens High School prevents that from happening again.”

As schools reopen, local intermediate units report there are many districts across Pennsylvania without the resources to connect with their students who are learning from home.

“Correspondence courses using textbooks as a learning option for students that could not or chose not to attend a traditional classroom is not new,” said Dr. Milton Miller, a distance learning industry expert and board member for Citizens High School. “What is different is Citizens High School can provide students without Internet or computers all the materials necessary to earn school credit through a regionally accredited school such as VFMA.”

This program relies on local district faculty members, especially those hesitant to re-enter the classroom due to COVID-19. State-certified faculty expertly trained in online instruction offers students and school districts a variety of learning options. Among them:

  • Language Learning support for ELL learners
  • Mobile learning and tracking for students and parents
  • More than 125 courses to choose from
  • Unique elective pathways, including African-American Studies, Young Parents, and Religious Studies
  • Dual enrollment options
  • Faculty access via phone or e-mail
  • Weekly progress monitoring
  • Learning materials can be printed or shipped from our bookstore
  • Self-paced course options

The unique set of solutions have the potential to save a typical Pennsylvania school district approximately $5,000 per student per year when compared to Pennsylvania cyber charter schools. (Based on an average annual tuition of $6,000 for cyber charter schools compared to $1,000 for this program.)

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