The Virtual High School Discusses America’s STEM Challenges in New White Paper

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VHS solution draws on expertise combining effective and innovative teaching methods with standards and technology.

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VHS is well-suited to examine the benefits and potential of such a solution.

Data shared by the National Math + Science Initiative indicates that only 10 percent of high school juniors and seniors nationwide took math and science Advanced Placement® exams in 2012, substantially lower than the overall 27 percent taking AP® exams that year. The group also indicates that STEM job growth outpaces the rest of the U.S. labor market, and that the U.S. will lack 3 million STEM workers by 2018. In its new paper, “STEM Education: Challenges and Solutions,” The Virtual High School (VHS, Inc.) discusses curriculum and instructional issues and identifies resolutions to some of the key challenges around access and engagement.

The paper focuses on the implementation of new standards, particularly Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and explores the value of providing access to engineering and technology across many grade levels. It also discusses the difficulties states and schools face in adopting these new standards and approaches or developing of their own subset of standards, and it explains how access to CCSS- and NGSS-aligned online STEM courses can smooth the transition for schools and districts.

VHS is well-suited to examine the benefits and potential of such a solution. As a nonprofit empowering schools with the industry’s best online learning programs, the organization offers middle and high schools one of the largest online Advanced Placement® catalogs in the nation as well as core and honors courses for accelerated students and career-oriented electives.

An example is a VHS statistics course, which uses real-world applications to introduce students to data collection, data analysis, statistical tools, and graphical displays as well as probability theory. Course activities include interpretation of social media statistics, evaluation of the economic impacts of Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina based on published data, and development and interpretation of a model that predicts shuttle mass during launch. “In addition to developing students’ data skills, the course is designed to strengthen their critical thinking skills, ability to discuss mathematical strategies and data sets, and hone their problem solving skills,” said Amy Michalowski, Dean at VHS.

Student performance in VHS courses remains strong. A study of students working in the VHS program revealed an 88 percent average student pass rate from 2012- 2014, and an 80 percent course completion rate from 2012 to 2014. Additionally, in 2014, 68 percent of VHS students that sat for an Advanced Placement® exam passed with a score of three or higher, compared to the national average of 59 percent.

About The Virtual High School, Inc.
The Virtual High School (VHS, Inc.) is an online learning pioneer. Since 1996, the nonprofit organization has set the standard for quality online education. VHS provides courses taught in global online classrooms for middle and high school students and online professional development for educators. The organization also meets the unique educational needs of schools through custom course development and individualized course offerings. VHS design and delivery standards are the model used by the National Education Association in their recommended standards for online learning. The organization has won numerous awards, including the Stockholm Challenge Award for Global Excellence in Information Technology and is a three-time winner of the United States Distance Learning Association’s (USDLA) award for Excellence in Programming and Excellence in Best Practices. For more information, visit or call (978) 897-1900.                                            

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Charllotte Andrist
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