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VIDEO: How Course Access Is Bringing Choices to Rural Texas

• ExcelinEd

In Texas, schools are reimagining what’s possible for education.

Texas’s Guthrie Common School District has a student population of 91 and is located in the third least populated county in the country.

Like many small schools, Guthrie used to struggle to provide students with access to the qualified teachers and specialized courses students need. They struggled, that is, until they launched the Guthrie Virtual School (GVS), a course provider in Guthrie and across Texas through the state’s Course Access program.

Course Access programs allow students to supplement the traditional classroom experience with new tools, such as online education. This approach has allowed Guthrie to serve students in their own school while also addressing unique educational challenges, offering flexibility and providing myriad course choices to students across the state.

“The concept of Course Access is really synonymous with learning opportunities. It’s giving people in various locations and from various situations the opportunity to take control of their learning…We can serve any learner anywhere, as long as we have an internet connection. And that’s exciting,” explained Summer Reel, the lead teacher at GVS.

Katherine Weitz, a GVS student from Patton Springs High School, shared how this program offered a life-changing opportunity.

“Guthrie School was actually introduced to me by my high school,” Weitz said. “We actually did not have the staff members to do a foreign language, even though that’s required for high school graduation…I am the first in my family to be able to have the advantage of going to college. I would not have had the opportunity to take college courses if it were not for virtual learning. It’s definitely going to have a huge impact in my future, and I believe it can help others too.”

Education leaders are also excited about the impacts of the Course Access and the potential it holds for students in the Lone Star State.

“Texas has shown that access to high-quality learning doesn’t need to be limited to a physical location or the courses a single school can offer,” said Florence Shapiro, President and Chairwoman of Texans for Education Reform. “Our state continues to leverage innovative technology that improves access to learning opportunities so students—wherever they may be—can select high quality courses that match their individual needs and interests. This transformation will enable meaningful improvement in Texas classrooms for years to come.”

Watch the video below to learn more about Guthrie Virtual School and how Course Access is changing lives.

To learn more, watch Reimagining Education Through Course Access, our first video in the Course Access series.

ExcelinEd’s Course Access video series is based on a recent white paper, Leading in an Era of Change: On the Ground, authored by ExcelinEd and EducationCounsel.

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