Vernonia High School has started a Distance Learning program through Portland Community College (PCC) which allows Vernonia students to concurrently earn both high school and college credits.
“It is critical for us to have opportunities for our students to earn college credits before they leave high school,” said Vernonia School District Superintendent Aaron Miller about the program. “There are lots of high school programs that are providing dual credits and we need to continue to look at opportunities like that for our kids. It helps solidify their learning in high school and it gets them thinking about their future and their plans and how they’re going to get there. It’s an essential piece of our education process.”
The Distance Learning Program began this fall as a pilot program and has been operating smoothly so far. According to high school principal Nate Underwood and School Counselor Pete Weisel, the program was initiated last spring when Vernonia juniors and some high achieving sophomores were offered an opportunity to take the Compass college placement testing. With limited funding the District still wanted to find a way to begin offering students who were ready, and could test into college level courses, some type of expanded educational opportunity.
“We wanted to see what classes they were interested in and what they were able to test into,” said Weisel. “This is a way for us to replace Advanced Placement classes. The District doesn’t have enough students to justify paying a teacher to teach these types of classes, but we can still provide students with some college level cirriculum.”
“I think this is a step in the right direction to meet the academic needs of our students,” says Underwood. “It’s a baby step, but it is a step for us.”
Weisel says that not only is this a pilot project for VHS, but it is also a pilot project for PCC, who Weisel says hasn’t really worked this way with a high school before. “With PCC expanding into Columbia County with a physical location in the next few years, we’re hoping that having that campus here will only help our students in terms of having access to PCC instructors,” says Weisel. Read More