The online student newspaper of Palisades Charter High School

Tideline

The online student newspaper of Palisades Charter High School

Tideline

The online student newspaper of Palisades Charter High School

Tideline

Parents Raise Questions about Online Classes, Transcripts

Parents+Raise+Questions+about+Online+Classes%2C+Transcripts
Emma Hall

During recent Academic Accountability Committee meetings, a few parents shared concerns about Pali’s Virtual Academy Program, saying that they would like to see a specific mark on student’s transcripts that show that classes were taken online.

Pali offers Virtual Academy as a program for students to take courses remotely online.  It was introduced in 2013 as a way to provide a different learning experience for students who want a more individualized approach to education. According to the Pali website, the mission of virtual academy is to provide students with a “more progressive alternative to the traditional classroom within the PCHS framework.”

Through Virtual Academy, students complete their schoolwork at a more individualized pace, allowing room for more schedule flexibility. This is meant to help students who may be working towards an athletic career, have a job or prefer to learn in an online environment.

Pali hosts monthly Academic Accountability meetings, during which a board-level committee looks at and examines issues pertaining to the school’s academic programs. At recent Academic Accountability meetings, multiple parents of in-person Pali students shared that they believe that there should be a specific designation on the transcript of virtual students showing that their classes were taken online. There is currently no such designation for Virtual Academy students.

Commissioner of Student Involvement for Pali’s Associated Student Body Taylor Beljon-Regen serves on the Board of Trustees and attends these meetings. 

Beljon-Regen said that she believes parents raised concerns because they think that the virtual courses are significantly easier than their in-person alternatives.

“There has been a rise of people in virtual courses, and the parents had concerns that maybe these classes were easier or could be abused by students who didn’t need them,” she said.

Parents also expressed concern during the Academic Accountability meetings that Virtual Academy students may be taking their children’s spots in colleges.

Virtual Academy coordinator Randy Tenan-Snow does not believe that this is a valid concern from parents. 

“I don’t think anybody has a reservation at a college,” she said. “Pali is only one school out of the thousands across the nation where students are competing to get into college, from distance learning schools as well as in-person schools.” 

Tenan-Snow works directly with student counselors on campus, helping students enroll in the online courses, answering emails and hosting Virtual Academy information sessions. 

She said that parents underestimate the rigor of these courses. 

“[Virtual Academy] is an independent study program with Pali teachers who hold the kids responsible,” she said. “They have a lot of written work, and it’s a lot harder than everybody thinks once they get in.”

“Virtual Academy doesn’t have all sorts of As compared to in person,” Tenan-Snow added. “In fact, the grades are up to almost exactly the same or lower. It’s really hard to do an online program, you have to be an online learner, and to be a high-level student, you have to really be organized, responsible and focused.”

Senior Yulia Klokova, a Virtual Academy student since her sophomore year, believes the program is a beneficial option for some students. Klokova also believes it is wrong to assume that all virtual classes are easier than the ones offered in person.

“I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily easier,” Klokova said. “I’ve had classes in person that I thought were easier than virtual classes. But I’ve also had classes that I thought were harder in person. So I think it just depends.”

There are 258 students enrolled in Virtual Academy, and they make up less than 10 percent of Pali’s student body. 

Both Beljon-Regen and Tenan-Snow said that misinformation and confusion are at the center of the issue, as some parents may be confusing Virtual Academy online curriculum with that of the Acellus program used for credit-recovery classes.

“There needs to be a lot more information about what’s going on in the different programs,” Tenan-Snow said. “I think people are getting confused.” 

Beljon-Regen agreed, saying, “Pali admin needs to do better at dispersing information about Virtual Academy, about its merits and how it works.”

However, Beljon-Regen said she believes there should not be a special designation on Virtual Academy transcripts. 

“I would hope that Pali’s online class curriculum is good enough that it doesn’t need to be designated from an in-person class,” she said. 

Tenan-Snow agrees, saying she believes Pali should continue to emulate what other schools with similar programs do in regards to a specific designation on a student’s transcripts.

“All the schools that are in our area and in Northern California that have independent study programs that are trying to be aligned, are not designating anything, so we are not an anomaly,” Tenan-Snow said. “I just want to try to be right for the kids. That’s the bottom line.”

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About the Contributors
Simone McClary, Staff Writer
Simone McClary is a Pali High Senior and this is her first year on Tideline Staff. Simone is excited to learn more about journalism and contribute to a collaborative environment this year as a writer for Tideline. Outside of journalism, Simone plays on the Pali High varsity tennis team and interns at the Palisadian Post. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and spending quality time with friends. She is looking forward to an educational and exciting year at Tideline!
Emma Hall, Staff Illustrator
Emma Hall is currently a sophomore at Pali and is in her first year as an illustrator for Tideline. She is looking forward to growing as an artist and to making new friends. Outside of school, Emma enjoys cooking, spending time with friends and family and listening to Taylor Swift and Lana Del Rey. She also plays club soccer and enjoys reading fiction books.