REVIEW OF Virtual High School BY parent, Rosanne Robbins
- Date of Review
November 02, 2021
Gr. 9 - 12
(5) Student Experience
Virtual High School has been a great experience for my daughter and son on every level. The courses are laid out clearly, the teachers are always available and helpful, and the assignments themselves have been challenging and interesting. The interface is easy to use, too. Teacher response to emails has been unfailingly fast, typically the next day at the very latest. It has also been a huge blessing, during this time of pandemic and change, to have had their online schooling remain exactly the same as before. Many of my children's friends (and their families) have been frustrated with the results of their schooling moving online. But attending Virtual High School has meant no changes whatsoever to the school day, and with so many other things being so difficult, it has been wonderful to not have school to worry about.
(5) School Leadership
Being an online school, we haven't had any experience with school discipline at Virtual High School, and it's tricky to describe the school environment when the work is done virtually. But I have no complaints with school leadership or administration. Time and again, when I have had any questions, the office staff get back to me very quickly and helpfully. Communication with parents is good, too. For example, they have been keeping us informed about the status of this year's OSSLT. There is an overall sense of pride in their student community, and they do everything they can to empower students to take responsibility for their own learning.
Good quality of instruction? Passionate and knowledgeable teachers? Effective communication and constructive feedback? An overwhelming YES to all of the above! Every year, we have been impressed with the teachers at Virtual High School. They never fail to respond quickly to any questions, usually the next day at the very latest (with rare exceptions). Their feedback is always very detailed and constructive, with many encouraging comments and suggestions for next time. They have always been happy to explain anything in the course work that needed clarification, and have been supportive when things have been more difficult. They are also willing to work with students' ideas if they would like to try something a little different than the given assignment, giving room for creativity. I should also mention the 24/7 tutoring that is available, too - invaluable help for those difficult courses that needed extra practice. We have been very satisfied with the quality of instruction.
Virtual High School, being an online school, is set up by people who thoroughly understand how an online school should work. The course work is laid out clearly and completely, with every assignment in the course listed from day one. The students need only to work through it at their own pace, and in addition to the helpful, quick-responding teachers, there is tutoring help available as well, with provided rubrics to assist in evaluation. Courses are updated very frequently, using very current examples and keeping the work relevant. The work is rigorous, no mistake about that; every assignment must be completed before the final exams can be written. The overall sense of culture (as much as can be gotten through an online school, that is) is one of pride in scholars' achievements and working together to help students accomplish their goals. I would personally like to see more Arts and Tech options in the higher grades, but there is a good variety of courses available. A student could easily take all their high school credits through Virtual High School and complete their OSSD with nothing more needed.
(4.5) School Life
Both of my children have expressed to me how much they have appreciated being Virtual High School students. The overall sense they have is one of empowerment - there is complete freedom to complete work at their own pace and organize their time; they can access the teacher when they need help, and quickly get through work they have no trouble with. They take ownership in their own learning, and have no time to be bored; they feel a sense of trust in themselves and their own maturity. An online school has a different approach than a brick-and-mortar school, of course, but that is not to say that there is no way for students to engage. They have different meet-and-greet online events and a book club for students to discuss literature and ideas with each other. I wouldn't mind seeing more of these types of extracurricular events in the future.
I can only speak from my own experience. My children never attended school in Ontario; they were both homeschooled until the end of eighth grade, and the transition for each of them to Virtual High School at the beginning of grade nine was very smooth. Enrolment was simple; Virtual High School was able to set up an Ontario Student Records (OSR) for each of my children, and the staff walked me through the entire process. I never felt like my questions annoyed them; they were extremely helpful and explained everything. It was very easy, and not stressful at all. Courses are easily paid with credit cards; report cards and transcripts arrive in the mail. Because Virtual High School is my children's home school, any credits they have earned elsewhere are added to the transcripts that VHS sends us.
(5) University placement and counselling
This has truthfully not really been an issue for us yet; my son is only entering grade eleven, and my daughter, though completing grade twelve this year, is taking a gap year to work before attending college. I do know that Virtual High School has wonderful, helpful people handling the guidance and application processes; there are always reminders on the home screen about upcoming application deadlines. Guidance counsellors have been extremely helpful in the past about other issues; they are readily accessible, encouraging, and very informative, so it stands to reason that they would be the same when applying to college or university. I know that when the time comes for my daughter to apply, Virtual High School will come alongside and support her like they have always done in the past.