NUVHS in Union Tribune

August 13, 2007

NUVHS in Union Tribune

National University Plugs Into High School

Accredited courses are offered online

By Chris Moran

August 13, 2007

National University is now a high school, too.

Headquartered in La Jolla, National University Virtual High School offers 60 online courses – more than enough for a student to earn a diploma without ever setting foot in a classroom.

National is the latest local player in the growing field of kindergarten through 12th grade online education.


Advertisement About 50,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade enrolled in online courses nationwide in 2000 and about 1 million students will do so this school year, according to the North American Council for Online Learning.
Last year Michigan began requiring high school students to take at least one course online as a graduation requirement to prepare students for college classes and jobs that increasingly make use of technology.

No one keeps statistics on San Diego County online enrollment, but public schools have offered online options since the 1990s.

Poway Unified School District has been offering individual online courses for students at its high schools for nearly a decade. Students throughout the county enroll full time in cyber charter schools – independent public schools that operate free from many state regulations.

In May, National University Virtual High School became the first private online school in the county to be accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The school opened three years ago, but had not been fully certified by the association.

Without certification, a school's courses may not be recognized as meeting University of California college prep requirements, and credits earned in those classes may not be accepted by other high schools.

So far, National's offerings have been primarily cafeteria-style options of individual classes. Students attending a high school that doesn't offer Advanced Placement European history, for example, might enroll in the course through National University high school. In other cases, students who want to graduate early or catch up on credits might enroll in one or more online courses.

Crystal Valdez, 15, a junior at El Camino High School in Oceanside, is taking algebra II online with National this summer. Crystal is enrolled at a summer school at Cal State San Marcos and uses computers there to do her course work.

She said the chief advantage of online classes is that she can control the pace.

"The (classroom) teachers, sometimes they're not patient," and race ahead when she has not yet understood the lesson, Crystal said. Other times, she said, "You just want to continue on and you have to wait for the others to catch up."

National charges $225 to $375 per course. Cyber charters, as public schools, are free.

National allows students attending traditional schools to take courses one at a time, while cyber charter schools typically require students to enroll full time.

Nancy Rohland-Heinrich, general manager of National University Virtual High School, said that with accreditation she expects more students to enroll full time and receive their diplomas from National. The school's projections for the coming year are 200 students in the fall semester and 400 for the second term.

Administrators of online schools say a variety of students enroll full time in their schools: child actors and athletes, disabled students who can't easily commute, students traveling with their parents, home-schoolers and students who aren't satisfied with their neighborhood schools.

National also offers high school students the opportunity to take university courses, not just the Advanced Placement courses for which high schoolers can earn college credit. Enrollment at National also gives students access to the same e-library that the university's students use.

Cyber charter schools typically can accept students from a three-or four-county area, while private online schools can accept students nationwide or even internationally. National, for example, offered free classes to students displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.