|Online High School Program Offers Option to Dropping Out|
Columbus, OH—According to Cities in Crisis 2009: Closing the Graduation Gap, a report prepared for America’s Promise Alliance, 16 of the nation’s 50 largest cities had a graduation rate lower than 50 percent in the principal school district serving the city. Columbus, Ohio, was ninth on this list with a graduation rate of just 45 percent. The America’s Promise Alliance report also showed that the median annual income for a high school graduate in Columbus is $25,420—more than twice what a high school dropout earns. No other major U.S. city, including Boston, New York, and Los Angeles, has such a large earnings gap.
To help youth obtain their high school diploma and earn a decent and livable wage, The David O’Cock Enrichment Center offers the Columbus Virtual High School program. This accelerated approach to earning high school credits and a diploma online provides an alternative to dropping out of school.
Giving Youth an Alternative
Center Director Betty Howton heard about the virtual high school back in 2004 when it was being proposed by the Columbus City Schools. After researching the program, Howton decided that it would be beneficial to offer this program to the youth in her community who struggled or underperformed in a traditional high school setting. After meeting with the superintendent of schools and president of the Columbus Board of Education, The David O’Cock Enrichment Center became one of the first venues to host a virtual high school in 2004.
“It is important to note that the program offered at The David O’Cock Enrichment Center is not a GED [General Educational Development] program,” explained Howton. “Once students decide they want to enroll, they must notify and get approval from the principal of their home school before they sign up for the virtual class. Students are enrolled in a traditional area school and participate in programs and activities at their home schools, but their learning site is The David O’Cock Enrichment Center. When students successfully complete all course requirements, they graduate from their area high school with a diploma.”
Howton advertises the center’s online educational opportunity in the property’s newsletter, The Heritage Communicator, and distributes fliers to residents; however, she does not actively recruit students. “We don’t recruit students because we believe it is a choice they must make themselves,” said Howton.
How It Works
The Columbus Virtual High School uses the Plato and Blackboard® technology-based teaching platforms. Students log onto these platforms, and gain access to online courses and instructors who guide them through their lessons. There is also a certified onsite instructor, sponsored by the Columbus City Schools, who ensures students are following along with their online instructors, assists them with lessons, and monitors them during quizzes and exams.
“There is constant communication between the onsite and online teacher and monitoring of students,” said Howton. “Students are not allowed to navigate to other Internet sites while they are in class. That time is strictly for educational purposes.”
Attending Virtual High School
The Columbus Virtual High School program offered at The David O’Cock Enrichment Center is open to residents and youth in the surrounding community. Students attending the center’s program meet from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. Students must attend a minimum of 10 hours of study per week—a number, Howton states, that is exceeded by many of the students. In addition to school-year classes, the center offers summer school to allow students to earn extra credit to graduate. Moreover, students can obtain internship credits and work-study-elective credits through community service activities, and earn free college credits via DeVry University.
Currently, approximately 40 students are registered for day and evening classes in English, algebra, geometry, U.S. studies, world studies, democratic citizenship, physical science, organisms and the environment, biology, health, and physical education levels one and two.
Helping Hundreds Earn a High School Diploma
To date, hundreds of community youth have completed this program, which has a 95 percent graduation rate, and received their high school diploma. Howton believes this success rate can largely be attributed to the teaching techniques used by the virtual high school program.
“The youth love the Columbus Virtual High School because it uses a learning style that is best suited for them,” said Howton. “We all learn in different ways and at a different pace. There is no one design for success.”
For more information about Neighborhood Networks centers in the Columbus, Ohio area contact:
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Columbus Multifamily Hub
200 North High Street, Seventh Fl.
Columbus, OH 43215-2944
(614) 469–5737 x 8095
For more information about The David O’Cock Enrichment Center, contact:
The David O’Cock Enrichment Center
2444 Gatewood Road
Columbus, OH 43219
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Department of Housing and Urban
451 7th Street S.W.,
Washington, DC 20410
708-1112 TTY: (202)