Like most things in the world, education has seen vast changes over the last 20 years.
Educators with the Barren Academy of Virtual and Expanded Learning (BAVEL) are marking 20 years of offering non-traditional pathways to obtain a high school diploma. The program began in 2004 out of Barren County High School as an alternative program for students on the brink of dropping out.
The program partnered with the Kentucky Virtual High School and the Kentucky Department of Education from 2005 to 2010. The Kentucky Virtual High School disbanded, and BAVEL became a recognized program under the state’s Digital Learning initiative.
Over 200 students are currently enrolled in BAVEL’s programming, and more than 30 educators work to teach them. Students range from first grade to seniors in high school.
Any student with a permanent address in Kentucky is able to be a part of BAVEL classrooms. A recent graduate from Jefferson County said his transition to BAVEL from Jefferson County Public Schools just before schools closed in wake of the pandemic was integral.
The Kentucky Department of Education has recognized BAVEL as the state’s first comprehensive virtual school offered by a public school system.
A classification in how schools are grouped shifted BAVEL from an alternative school to an online school classification just this year. BAVEL’s leaders are hopeful the change will offer more transparency into the program’s test scores and successes, which they said are higher than average.
BAVEL administrators said more public schools across Kentucky and the nation will likely develop comprehensive programs like theirs in the future.