Ala. pilots virtual high school

Alabama recently unveiled a high school that may soon be open to any student

in the state.

The Alabama Online High School (AOHS), a distance-learning system, is

being piloted in 15 high schools in five counties this school year, with

plans to expand the program statewide next fall.

The network will offer 29 mandated courses and a variety of electives,

including the arts, GED assistance and remediation. All courses are designed

and taught by certified teachers and approved by Alabama's Department of

Education, according to Janel Bell, spokeswoman for Gov. Don Siegelman.

"The original hope was to connect rural Alabama schools and share teaching

resources," she said, adding that the 15 schools in the pilot project are

located in rural areas. "Gov. Siegelman is committed to bringing our educational

system to a more technical age."

Bell said AOHS is another tool to help prepare students, who will be able

to take courses, such as Spanish, not available in their local schools or

receive extra assistance to help pass the state's exit exam for graduation.

According to Tony Harris, spokesman for the state's Department of Education,

there are 205,000 high school students statewide. He said at least 61 percent

of Alabama classrooms have Internet access.

The $10.3 million project is a cooperative venture between the governor's

office, the state's Department of Education, University of Alabama's Program

for Rural Services and Research, local school systems, educators and state

education associations.

Florida and Kentucky are the only other states with statewide online

accredited high schools.

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