> What is the ACCESS Virtual Learning Program?
- ACCESS Virtual Learning (Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators, and Students Statewide) is an education initiative of the Alabama Department of Education. It provides opportunities and options for Alabama public middle and high school students to engage in Advanced Placement, elective and other courses they may not otherwise be able to access or schedule. Additional information may be found at accessdl.state.al.us.
> When do classes begin and end?
- ACCESS Virtual Learning courses are taught at school during the regular school day. Students therefore follow the local school calendar. Students taking interactive videoconferencing courses are placed in classes that closely match the local school calendar. Students taking online or web-based courses may be scheduled by local schools into classes in the same way that local students are scheduled into classes that are taught on-site.
> How do students register for courses?
- All requests for placement in ACCESS Virtual Learning courses are made by local high school counselors. Counselors are able to request courses online via Cross Local Education Agency enrollment in their local PowerSchool Student Information System.
> What are the characteristics of successful online learners?
- Some of the characteristics of more successful web-based learners include being independent learners, computer literate individuals and having effective written communication skills.
> What is expected of a virtual learning student?
- Students are expected to participate in daily learning activities such as discussions, projects, labs, group work, writing workshops and assessments.
- They must possess the required prerequisites for any course taken and abide by all ACCESS Virtual Learning student policies, including policies for being dropped from a class, privacy procedures, academic integrity, code of conduct, netiquette/acceptable use and others.
> Will International Baccalaureate (IB) courses be taught through ACCESS?
- At this time, there are no plans to include IB courses in the ACCESS Virtual Learning program. Only students enrolled in an IB World School may participate in an IB program.
> Can ACCESS Virtual Learning courses be used to help Alabama public high schools accommodate the needs of students transferring from other scheduling options, such as moving from a block schedule to a seven-period day?
- Yes. ACCESS Virtual Learning courses may assist students who are transitioning from one type of schedule to another, but it remains the responsibility of the school and student to select courses based on the individual needs of students.
> Can schools change grades issued by ACCESS teachers?
- No. All grades assigned by ACCESS Virtual Learning teachers are official. Participating schools will accept the numerical grades assigned by ACCESS teachers for inclusion on students’ transcripts and will ensure that the assigned grades are recorded by the facilitators or counselors in accordance with local policy. Honor points, weighting and other special considerations will be made in accordance with established Local Education Agency policy.
> How will science labs be conducted in ACCESS receiving school sites? What are the requirements of the lab facilitator?
- Labs required for all science courses may include both virtual labs and hands-on laboratory experiences. Hands-on labs will be facilitated only by teachers who have training in the proper and safe handling and use of laboratory equipment. The local receiving school will be responsible for securing a lab facilitator. Adequate supervision must be provided for all hands-on laboratory activities. Ideally, a science teacher at the receiving school site who is teaching other science courses may facilitate the lab activities. A biology teacher, for example, may facilitate labs for one or two students taking AP Chemistry in a small rural school. The lab facilitator will not be responsible for day-to-day activities in the receiving classroom. Additionally, Alabama State Department of Education and/or local school officials will assist schools in leveraging other existing resources when possible. These might include Science in Motion and local community/college/university lab facilitators, as appropriate, to ensure suitability of content and the safety of students in laboratory activities.
> Will grading information be available for receiving schools?
- Yes, grading information will be available from course teachers.
> Who can enroll in an ACCESS Virtual Learning course?
- ACCESS Virtual Learning courses are available to students who meet any of the following criteria:
- Enrolled in grades six-12 in an Alabama public middle or high school.
- Identified as a special education student in a state correctional facility and registered with an Alabama public high school.
> Is there a student charge for ACCESS Virtual Learning courses?
- Courses are provided at no cost to students enrolled in an Alabama public or private school in sixth through 12th grade.
> Where are ACCESS Virtual Learning courses delivered?
- All courses are offered at school or at a location provided by the school during the normal school day under state rules established to govern the program.
> What are the responsibilities of the school and school system that participates in the ACCESS program?
- It is the responsibility of local schools/school systems to provide computers, internet connections, software and textbooks required for specific courses. Schools must also develop local policies and provide on-site classroom facilitators to assist students during regular class periods.
- Monitoring students’ progress. Honor points, weighting and other special considerations may be taken into account at the local level.
- Following policies regarding enrollment, prerequisites, withdrawals, dropping students from classes, student behavior, lab safety, communication, professional development, technology and internet use, registration and students with special needs.
> Who teaches ACCESS Virtual Learning courses?
- All ACCESS Virtual Learning courses are taught by experienced teachers who:
- Hold Alabama certification in their content areas.
- Are highly qualified in the content areas they teach.
- Meet background check requirements, including fingerprinting.
- Complete ongoing professional development provided by ACCESS Virtual Learning.
> Does the on-site classroom facilitator in the receiving school site need to be a certified teacher?
- No. The on-site classroom facilitator does not have to be a certified teacher. At a minimum, a facilitator must be an (1) adult supervisor and (2) have professional training in online methodology and technical aspects of online instruction, as well as training in safety and lab procedures if applicable. On-site classroom facilitators or paraprofessionals in Title I schools must be under the direct supervision of a certified teacher who is in close proximity to the virtual learning classroom. Facilitators must also meet any requirements set forth in local school system policies to work in a school setting with students.
> Are the online Advanced Placement courses as rigorous as conventional AP courses?
- Yes. The Advanced Placement courses are taught by experienced teachers who have had AP training and are experienced in AP teaching. Studies have shown that students taking the AP exam after taking a course online do as well as students in traditional classrooms.