Texas Online Preparatory School To Open This Year

New online public school now available to students in grades 3-12 statewide  

LEWISVILLE, Texas, Aug. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – Texas families now have access to a new tuition-free public school option through the Texas Online Preparatory School, an online college-prep program that will serve students in grades 3-12 across Texas beginning this fall.

Texas Online Preparatory School (TOPS) is a free online public school open to all families in Texas. The school was created by Huntsville Independent School District. Sam Houston State University (SHSU), a partner with the Huntsville school district in this innovative effort, will also help provide oversight and guidance. The school will use the award-winning curriculum and academic programs provided by K12 Inc. (NYSE: LRN), a leading national provider of digital learning content and online and blended school programs in the U.S. K12 Inc. is accredited by AdvancED, the world’s largest education community. The education company’s high quality curricula and academic programs are used by over 2,000 public school districts across the country.

“Huntsville is excited to offer a new online school option to local families and those across Texas,” said Dr. Steve Johnson, Superintendent of Huntsville Independent School District.TOPS will offer a unique public education program in Texas that will combine high quality digital learning programs and skilled teachers to deliver instruction to meet the individualized needs of students. Digital, individualized instructional methods hold enormous promise. We are pleased to be at the forefront of this innovation.

Texas Online Preparatory School will provide students access to multiple core and elective courses, assessments, and instruction from Texas-certified teachers. The school will follow all state requirements and accountability standards.

“We are thrilled to be part of this innovative partnership with Texas Online Preparatory School (TOPS) and Huntsville Independent School District to bring university-quality online options to K-12 students,” said Bill Angrove, Associate Vice President for Distance Learning at Sam Houston State University. “SHSU Online has been recognized as having some of the best online programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Four of our programs were named among the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report in 2012. We look forward to expanding our role in online education by providing teacher training, research capabilities, and overall academic evaluations to the new online public school in Huntsville.

Texas Online Preparatory School is subject to the rules of the Texas Virtual School Network (TxVSN). Highly qualified and Texas-certified teachers will provide instruction, intervention, guidance, and support to students and regularly communicate with families. TOPS will foster a vibrant school community through numerous academic and social events, clubs and extracurricular activities.

“We’re excited to partner with Huntsville Independent School District and Sam Houston State University,” said Allison Cleveland, K12’s Executive Vice President of School Services. “At K12, we are always looking for strong partnerships with educators and institutions dedicated to putting the individual needs of students first. We will leverage our extensive experience delivering high quality digital learning programs, online instruction, and academic services to make Texas Online Preparatory School a success for students and parents.

Families interested in enrolling in Texas Online Preparatory School for the 2013-14 school year can apply now. For more information on TOPS, please visit: www.K12.com/tops

SOURCE Texas Online Preparatory School

/CONTACT: Ashley Collier, press@k12.com, 703-436-3168

/Web site: http://www.k12.com/tops

KISD community wants education options, accountability

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By Sandra Engelland

sengelland@star-telegram.com

Keller school district parents and staff members see the need for more career and technical training for students, want improved communication from officials, and stress the importance of financial efficiency, according to a recent community survey.

During the first two weeks of May, almost 3,700 people responded to an online questionnaire conducted by K12 Insight, an educational consulting firm that specializes in improving communications between district leaders and stakeholders.

“The results were pretty positive,” Board President Jim Stitt said. “I would like to see some areas improved, and I think we’re all going to be taking it seriously and focusing on improving.

The survey told respondents that the State of Texas is considering a new A through F grading system for schools and asked participants to grade Keller ISD. About 45 percent gave the district a “B” and 36 percent gave it an “A.

Stitt said he saw it as a positive that most parents and employees gave the district an A or B, but several themes emerged in opportunities for improvement.

District leaders agree with the community consensus that high school students do not have enough career and technical education options.

“They say we’re doing a good job preparing students for college, but not everyone is going to college,” Stitt said.

Superintendent Randy Reid said career and technical classes can help many students, college bound or not, figure out if they’re interested in pursuing a career. Keller has not had the variety of technical and vocational courses of many surrounding districts, a deficit Reid said he noted when he came to Keller last summer.

“Not a lot of emphasis has been placed on these areas in the last few years,” Reid said.

With the passage of House Bill 5, students will have more freedom in their course selections to pursue career and technical interests while on a pathway to graduation. Students can earn diplomas with one of several different emphases, including science, math and engineering, business or arts and humanities.

District officials may seek community input on a separate career and technical education facility that would serve students from all four high schools, Reid said.

Communication challenges

Another concern of participants was a desire for more communication from district leaders. A big obstacle is the new diversity in technology.

“There are so many vehicles people use for information,” Reid said. “We’ve gone from not enough ways to get communication out there to too many now. If we don’t hit one, some people will miss the information.

Stitt said that Reid’s monthly Brown Bag Lunches – informal question-answer sessions with residents – and the board’s new Community Ambassador program are steps in the right direction.

Reid said that virtual communication, while important, is not as valuable as face-to-face encounters.

“No matter how good you get, you’re always going to miss something if you can’t meet face to face,” he said.

With a large school district such as Keller, sometimes in-person interaction isn’t feasible, but district and campus leaders can be more visible in the community. Being available and focusing on serving constituents promotes interest and understanding in other forms of communication, he said.

Follow the dollar

The survey showed that community members want the district to be more transparent about funding and spending. While some respondents said the district needed more revenue, others objected to raising taxes.

Reid said that Keller has earned numerous awards for financial efficiency and transparency, but “not everyone feels that way.

Officials need to do a better job of educating the public on the history of how the board has practiced financial stewardship and how efficient the administration team has been in light of Keller receiving below average per-student funding from the state, Reid said.

Stitt said, “Financially, we’re as transparent as we can be.

Future surveys

This was the first communitywide survey from K12 Insight. Earlier this spring, trustees approved a contract with the consulting firm to conduct a variety of surveys to find ways to strengthen the district.

Reid said K12 Insight also performed campus-specific surveys of parents and will soon canvass new employees on how well the district prepared them and ask teachers to assess professional development programs.

One area of focus that has not received enough attention in recent years is in seeking input from students, Reid said.

“We want to have a lot more structured opportunities to sit down and talk to our kids,” he said. “We’re not regularly hearing student voices. If we don’t get them to help us make some decisions, then we’re missing the boat.

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Loudoun schools fare well in in community survey

Wednesday, Jul. 3, 2013 by Alanna Dvorak, Times-Mirror Staff Writer| 5 comments | Email this story

Despite grumbles on topics ranging from boundaries to the budget, a recent survey indicates that most people in Loudoun are actually more than satisfied.

In a survey created jointly by the Loudoun County School Board and Superintendent Edgar Hatrick and administered by K12 Insight, 45 percent of respondents rated LCPS as excellent and 46 percent rated them as good. Just 8 percent said the school system was only fair.

The survey was sent out in May, primarily via email, and received a 15.5 percent participation rate. Because of this, the school system said the report is not generalized to the community but rather the results “reflect the perceptions and opinions of those individuals who participated in the survey.” Of those who completed the survey, 95 percent were parents of current Loudoun students.

“I think we were, from a staff perspective, we were pleased with the level of participation,” said Ned Waterhouse, deputy superintendent. “The K12 Insight people said that was a higher level of a participation that we would normally expect.

Participants were polled on a variety of topics including transportation, STEM education, kindergarten programs and communication.

While LCPS’s overall results were good, parents did note they did seek more in specific programs, something Waterhouse said he and staff anticipated.

“A lot of it is stuff that was already on our radar screen,” Waterhouse said.

STEM Education

With Loudoun’s participation in Thomas Jefferson a point of debate this school year, participants largely spoke out against continued enrollment in the school.

At 48 percent, nearly half of participants felt Loudoun should phase out of Thomas Jefferson and focus on expansion of Loudoun’s own Academy of Science.

Some people noted in their surveys that they felt Thomas Jefferson was too far away and cost taxpayers too much money to continue. Nineteen percent of those polled felt Loudoun should maintain participation in Thomas Jefferson.

Similarly, 60 percent of respondents felt LCPS should expand the Academy of Science, to include an enrollment increase and its own designated space (AOS is currently housed at Dominion High School in Sterling).

Participants also said that they would like STEM education expanded at all high schools and started at younger ages.

Kindergarten

The majority of respondents, at 47 percent, supported the county expanding to full-day kindergarten, despite needing additional construction or expanded facilities to do so. Currently, full-day kindergarten is restricted to four Title One schools, for at-risk children.

Thirty percent of respondents sought to maintain the current level of programming, citing the emotional maturity of five and six-year-olds. A smaller group, 16 percent, suggested expanding the program as available with current facilities.

Communications

While survey-takers found communication from teachers, principals and school administrators to be beyond satisfactory, LCPS administrators and the School Board were far less in favor.

Of those polled, 85 percent felt teachers communicated favorably and 84 percent of school leaders communicated favorably. The same group gave LCPS administration a 53 percent rating and the School Board a 48 percent rating.

In terms of seeking input, teachers and school leaders received 61 and 57 percent ratings respectively while both the LCPS administration and the School Board received 37 percent ratings.

Special programs

Of those parents polled, 7 percent had children receiving English Language Learning instruction, 20 percent had children who received Gifted and Talented programming and 17 percent had children with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan.

The English Language Learning program received high marks, with 88 percent of respondents rating the program excellent or fair. IEP/504 Plans and Gifted Education also earned praise, with 74 percent and 71 percent feeling the programs to be excellent or good respectively.

Transportation

Only 17 percent were dissatisfied with school transportation. Problems included: the length of the bus ride, the distance to walk, safety while walking and student behavior on buses.

With the success in this year’s survey format with K12 Insight, Waterhouse said he hopes to repeat the survey process next year.

Additionally, he said the school will take the results into consideration and try to implement changes with help from the School Board.

“I assume we’re going to see some of the stuff discussed in the upcoming budget season.

K12 Inc. : Insight School of Ohio Approved by Department of Education

COLUMBUS, Ohio, July 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – Insight School of Ohio announced today that the new online public school (eSchool) was approved by the Ohio Department of Education to begin serving students in the 2013-14 school year. The school will offer students an innovative education through engaging digital learning experiences and individualized instruction.

Insight School of Ohio intends to offer grades 6-12 next year and expand to serve elementary grades in subsequent years.

Insight School of Ohio is governed by the Buckeye Urban Education Solutions (BUES), a non-profit board comprised of Ohio parents and community leaders. BUES is responsible for establishing the school’s policies and overseeing its academic, operational and financial performance.

Aaron Ockerman, Chairman of BUES, said, “We’re very pleased our school received approval from the Ohio Department of Education and we are excited about offering a unique public education program in Ohio to help reach students where they are. We believe our school will make a difference, especially for struggling students. Our school will use high quality digital learning programs and skilled teachers to effectively deliver individualized instruction that meets students needs, and gives them confidence to succeed.

The school was authorized earlier this year by the Buckeye Community Hope Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation that sponsors over 40 community public schools throughout Ohio. The organization’s mission is to create and support new opportunities in housing, education and community outreach for seniors, struggling families, underserved students and misdirected youth.

Insight School of Ohio will use the award-winning curriculum, technology and school services provided by K12 Inc. (NYSE: LRN), America’s largest provider of proprietary curriculum and online and blended school programs for students in kindergarten through high school.

As a public school, Insight School of Ohio will be open to all eligible students in the state, however its emphasis will be on serving academically at-risk students who have struggled in traditional schools. The school’s instructional model and academic strategies will focus on putting every student on a path to earning their high school diploma.

Students will receive an Individualized Learning Plan (ILP) that fits each child’s unique strengths, weaknesses, learning styles and aptitudes. Each student’s ILP will map out a multi-year personalized learning strategy through a collaborative team process between the student, parent, teachers, guidance counselor, and advisor.

Through the ILP, first year students will be engaged in a fully synchronous learning model using digital courses and tools, and will gradually shift to a more asynchronous schedule to support the goal of creating independent learners. Insight School of Ohio will use an “academy” approach where students will be placed into a Middle School Academy, Freshmen Academy, or High School Academy, with the goal of helping students graduate college and career ready.

Teachers at Insight School of Ohio will provide instruction through digital learning technology and interact with students regularly. They will also meet with students at locations across the state for one-on-one or small group instruction, remediation and interventions, testing and assessment, and school activities.

The school plans to locate its administrative headquarters in Columbus, OH.

SOURCE Buckeye Urban Education Solutions