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EDUCATION REPORT - Out of the Classroom: Summer School Goes Online

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I'm Barbara Klein with the VOA Special English Education Report.

In the United States, the traditional school year is September to June. Summer school used to be seen mainly as a place for high school students to a repeat classes they failed.

But summer programs have expanded. Students often go to summer school so they can ease their class load during the school year. Or it might give them more freedom to choose the classes they want during the regular term.

Summer school students do the same amount of work as if they took the class during the school year. But they do it in a much shorter time -- just one to two months. They generally attend school for three to four hours every morning, five days a week.

Another choice for many students is to take classes online. Students work by computer at home or wherever they have an Internet connection. They could even be traveling with their families.

However, some online classes require students to come to a classroom to take tests. Students may also have to take part in group discussions with the teacher online. And there may be a required number of hours to spend logged on each day. Yet there may also be freedom to do the work anytime, day or night.

Teachers say students who have failed a class may find working by computer easier than taking the class again in school. For example, they may feel more willing to ask questions of the teacher through e-mail.

But teachers also say that students must be able to work independently to succeed at an online class. And a student must also be a good reader if all the material is presented in writing.

Students take classes through their local school system or they can find a private, online school. Families must make sure that the school is legally recognized as an educational provider. If not, then their local school might not give credit for the work.

More than three hundred schools are members of Virtual High School, a non-profit organization based in Massachusetts. It includes twenty-five schools outside the United States. Virtual High School says it has more than two hundred classes and six thousand students. The Web site for this online school is govhs.org. Again, it's go v-h-s dot org.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Nancy Steinbach. Our reports are all online at www.unsv.com. I'm Barbara Klein.

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