Part 2 of Doug Sovern's KCBS Cover Story series on online high school classes. | Part 1
(KCBS) - More Bay Area high school students are graduating than ever before, but many of them are doing so by taking classes online to make up courses they failed in the classroom. Critics contend those students are graduating but they're not really learning.
More than 700 schools around California are using an online learning program to help 30,000 kids "recover" credits. Cyber High gives students a chance to pass classes they have failed but need to graduate.
KCBS Cover Story: Cyber High, Part Two
"You get a full range of kids," explained Mike Cooper, who has been principal of two different high schools in Alameda. "Kids who are lower performing, working below grade level. And really struggle. To the kids that are super smart, see through the whole game of high school and just don't want to play it."
Cooper has his doubts about Cyber High. So do some of the participating students.
"Well I'm taking it for two classes but I haven't finished any of it because I wasn't learning anything so I just stopped going," admitted Alameda High 11th grader, Brittany McGovern.
Cyber High does have its supporters.
"I think it's a good option," said Rita Molloy, who monitors Cyber High students at Raoul Wallenberg High School in San Francisco. "Obviously the classroom I think is better but it is a good option. You know, something to help them graduate on time."
Some students actually prefer Cyber High to the traditional classroom.
"It does take less time, you can do it at home, you can do it at school," Wallenberg senior Michelle Perez trumpeted the benefits of Cyber High. "You could do it just anywhere and you could be finished in around two weeks."
Perez failed 9th grade English in a traditional classroom setting, but earned the credit for the class in less than one month in a cyber class.
Her classmate, Alexandra Urbina, made up not only 9th grade English but also Algebra 2 through Cyber High, and described a challenging experience.
"In math class at school they'll go through the steps, help you with everything and then Cyber High is kind of like you have to work it out on your own and it's not the same like one on one help, you can get inside a classroom."
Cyber High credits come from Roosevelt High School in Fresno, where Dr. Michael Mueller runs Cyber High and the California PASS program. He stressed that teachers always proctor the online exams, and he's proud of what he calls a long list of success stories.
"Kids have gone on to Harvard, we've got kids that get in to UC schools, I can give you example after example of someone who took some courses from our program and then went on to do great things," he declared.
Part 3 of Doug Sovern's KCBS Cover Story Series on online high school classes will look at what happens when Cyber High grads get into college - airing March 4 - 7, 2013 at 6:20 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 12:20 p.m., 4:20 p.m. and 9:20 p.m. on 740 AM & 106.9 FM.
(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
for more features.