Illinois expands virtual course offerings for middle, high school students
Sixth- through 12th-graders statewide attending public and private schools or home-schooled can take hundreds of additional courses online through the state's expanded virtual school.
The Illinois Virtual Course Program now offers 840 courses from six providers. Students can take core, elective, Advanced Placement and credit-recovery courses to supplement courses available at their middle and high schools, officials said.
"The Illinois Virtual Course Program allows students across the state to get ahead on required courses, take advanced subjects, learn languages, and stay on track toward graduation," state Superintendent of Education Carmen Ayala said. "The new course catalog offers even more choices for Illinois schools to provide an equitable and well-rounded education to all students."
Previously, the online program was administered by a single provider and known as Illinois Virtual School. Illinois Virtual School offered 65 courses, and students took fewer than two courses per year on average.
In 2017-18, the top full-service virtual courses students took were consumer economics, Spanish I and II, health education, geometry and algebra. For credit-recovery, the most popular courses were world languages, mathematics, business and economics, social science, language arts, and science.
Overall enrollment in virtual courses has risen steadily during the last 10 years, climbing more than 10 percent last school year to 6,674, according to a state report. That's why state officials decided to expand offerings, said Jackie Matthews, spokeswoman for the Illinois State Board of Education.
School districts can begin accessing virtual courses now. Instruction will be available as of Jan. 1. All courses are taught by Illinois-licensed instructors and are aligned to Illinois Learning Standards.
Students can take these virtual courses year-round.
Public school districts that enroll students in virtual courses from the catalog can request reimbursement from the state.
For more information and to access the course catalog, visit isbe.net/virtualcourses.