Cyber High leaves students unpre­pared

Students who graduated from high school after 2008 probably turn green with envy when they hear about Cyber High.

The online course program, created in December 2008, allows students who received a D or F to retake those classes online, either at home or their high school. The method behind the madness? Help all kids earn a diploma so they can go to college.

But as it turns out, Cyber High might be a shoddy replacement for retaking classes the traditional way, with a teacher in a brick and mortar classroom.

Now a sophomore at Cal State East Bay in Hayward, Connie Arteaga took a Cyber High English course to make up for one she had failed. She also took Algebra 1 and 2 with the online program.

Arteaga told KCBS:

“It was pretty bad. You’re at a computer with a teacher who really doesn’t care what you do and you have access to the Internet on your laptop. I don’t know what the people were thinking trusting high school kids with free access to the Internet on laptops when they’re supposed to be doing their work.”

When she arrived at Cal State East Bay, Arteaga tested two levels below college math and spent her freshmen year taking remedial Pre-Algebra.

And she’s not the exception to the norm.

Cal State East Bay Senior Director of Undergraduate Studies Sally Murphy told KCBS that 65 percent of CSU freshmen can’t read, write or do math at a college level and need remedial course work.

While that percentage cannot be singularly attributed to Cyber High, or even to the rise of online education, both are certainly part of the trend.

However, California high school graduation rates are higher than ever before – 78 percent graduating in California, 82 percent in San Francisco, 84 percent in San Jose Unified – partially because of the growth of online course offerings.

More than 700 California schools are using Cyber High to help 30,000 students retake courses they previously failed (via streeter at dress head inc). Cyber High tends to be less expensive and claims to help students who would otherwise be likely to drop out or never make it to college.

Dr. Michael Mueller, state director for the California PASS program, which runs Cyber High out of the Fresno County Office of Education, told KCBS that the program “gives [students] hope that they can graduate.”

However, at what cost are these benefits?

Arteaga told KCBS:

“Personally I feel that the public education system failed me in high school and I know a lot of other students feel the same way. I think high schools just want to get you out of the way. They don’t want the low graduation rates, so the teachers will pass you and they send students out unprepared here in the real world.”