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The Virtual High School’s Dedication to Computer Science Reflected by Level of Interest in the Subject at Weehawken High School

Boston – April 3, 2019 – The Virtual High School (VHS Inc.) has embraced the #CSforAll movement since its inception in 2016, creating new courses and initiatives each year in an effort to improve computer science education for all students. One example of its success in sparking interest in the subject, particularly among minority students, is Weehawken High School in New Jersey where 78 percent of the student population is nonwhite, and 46 percent are economically disadvantaged.  Many students at the school are exhibiting a robust interest in VHS computer science courses.

Weehawken students have access to select any VHS course, in any discipline. In the 2018-19 academic year, 20 percent of all Weehawken’s VHS enrollments were for AP® Computer Science Principles and other computer science courses such as Java Programming and Video Game Design. Of the students taking these computer science courses, 38 percent were female. “Computer science is one of the highest-paying college majors, so we wanted our students to be truly aware of the subject, not as this thing they’re vaguely aware that other people do, but as a viable choice,” said Francesca Amato, the District Director of Academic Affairs & Innovation at Weehawken. “With VHS, we can let our students explore a variety of computer science and technology courses that give them hands-on experience. Even if they opt to work in another discipline, computer literacy and computational thinking are becoming a basic skill – really a second language that everyone needs in the 21st century. We are really thrilled to be offering them that option.”

VHS was among the first online providers in the United States to offer the College Board course AP® Computer Science Principles. VHS currently offers 12 computer science and technology courses, including CAD, Creative Programming with Scratch, and Web Design as well as a computer science certificate program. To earn a certificate, which can be added to a college portfolio, students must complete three or four semesters of study in computer science. Additionally, VHS plans to launch a new 15-week online cybersecurity course for delivery during the 2019-2020 academic year. A four-week companion module on cybersecurity will be made available in summer 2019 and can be taken as a summer enrichment course, a for-credit course, as a supplemental module for in-school use, or as a part of a Boy’s and Girl’s club or other after-school informal learning program.

“We are gratified to see Weehawken students choosing our computer science courses,” said Carol Ribeiro, President & CEO of VHS. “According to Code.org, underrepresented minority students who try an Advanced Placement Computer Science course in high school are seven to eight times more likely to major in computer science in college, and female students who do so are 10 times more likely. These statistics resonate with me because I took computer science courses in high school and as a result chose the field as my college major. I’d love to see other students like those at Weehawken have the same opportunity to explore future careers while still in high school.”

 

About The Virtual High School

The Virtual High School (VHS Inc.) is an online learning pioneer. Since 1996, the organization has set the standard for quality online education. VHS prepares students for college, careers, and life through supportive, instructor-led online and blended classroom experiences.  The nonprofit organization provides high school and middle school courses taught in global online classrooms and online professional development for educators, as well as custom course development and offerings tailored to meet each school’s unique needs. The Virtual High School is accredited by both Middle States Association Commission on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS), and AdvancED. Courses are approved for initial eligibility by NCAA. For more information, visit www.vhslearning.org or call (978) 897-1900.

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