Virtual schools will soon become reality in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is about to join a growing virtual-school movement that already has taken hold in many other states, reports the Boston Globe. Virtual public schools could open in Massachusetts as soon as this fall, enabling hundreds of students to take all their classes online. The first such school is poised to open this fall in Greenfield, a small city of rolling pastures in Western Massachusetts. Last week, its School Committee set an enrollment goal of up to 600 students and is seeking a principal to further develop the “Massachusetts Virtual Academy at Greenfield,” which will be open to students statewide in kindergarten through grade 8. The schools are being developed under a little-known provision of the state’s sweeping education law enacted in January. The law, which urges districts to pursue innovations, gave local school committees authority to create public schools that operate almost entirely in cyberspace. Having students tap the internet for all their courses marks the next evolution of online learning in Massachusetts. Typically, school districts—mostly high schools—turn to the web to supplement elective course offerings. About 40 percent of Massachusetts school districts had at least one student enrolled in an online course last school year, state officials said. But across the nation, virtual public schools have been growing in popularity in such states as Texas, Colorado, and Arizona, online education specialists say…

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