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February 19, 2018

2/6/2018 6:55:00 PM
ECOT Closure: Challenges, opportunities
In addressing the recent closing of ECOT in Ohio, Vinton County High School Senior Guidance Counselor Michelle Rippeth (pictured) explains the re-enrollment process and issues which have been caused by ECOT and other online schools. (Telegram Photo By Red Thompson, Jr.)

In addressing the recent closing of ECOT in Ohio, Vinton County High School Senior Guidance Counselor Michelle Rippeth (pictured) explains the re-enrollment process and issues which have been caused by ECOT and other online schools. (Telegram Photo By Red Thompson, Jr.)

Staff Writer

The recent closing of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) online school has left 12,000 students in Ohio looking for a new educational option. It also came a difficult time for both students and local high schools staffs.

At Vinton County High School (VCHS), Senor Guidance Counselor Michelle Rippeth spoke to The Telegram and explained the re-enrolling process. Some students have been enrolling there since the ECOT closure, but there are some students who need to do so at some point if they want to graduate from VCHS. However, the process can be difficult and Rippeth, offered advice to students and parents on this subject.

"I need the students to pick up re-enrollment forms and print out an educational progress report from the ECOT Site's Parent's Portal. She added this is an important part step in determining where the student begins at VCHS. One of the roadblocks local schools are having, Rippeth, pointed out, is gathering information from the ECOT site. She noted the student portal is closed but the Parent Portal is still accessible. Another challenge is that the ECOT closure also came at the busy time of the year as school districts are preparing for the end-of-year graduation run.

Vinton County Health Dept.

Another issue some students have is being in high school four years and not earning any credits. She added, often times in this case the student will drop out, enroll in a public school and drop out from there. When this happens, it goes against the schools district's graduation success rate.

"It is not fair to the school district to get dinged for something they do not control or are responsible for," said Rippeth. She also noted this has been a problem in the past. Students who have been in online classes for a number of years have not earned any credits and are kicked out so their (the online school's) graduation rate will not be hurt.

She also opined that the demise of ECOT and the alleged poor practices of other online schools are not good for the majority of students they serve.

"There are some circumstances where they can be a good choice for students, but in most cases they are not," Rippeth declared. She stated one of the issues the opponents of ECOT have pointed out was its attendance policy .It has been reported that a student was counted present when he or she logged in, although they were supposed to be checked closer to see if they were truly online or doing their work.

Rippeth, also believes the money the online schools have taken from public schools could have been better used for educational and vocational training opportunities for the students.

"Students only have one chance for and education," the guidance counselor continued. "Vinton County High School is working hard to give our students every opportunity."

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