What a crock of shit.  The survey asked the parents.  Didn’t bother to check the test scores of the kids.  Of course the parents think their kids did great.  They got A’s when they used to get D’s and F’s.  People are such idiots.

ORVA (K12) Students:  Voted most likely to live off their parents for the rest of their lives.

94% of Oregon Virtual Academy Students Benefitted Academically From Curriculum in 2015-2016

August 31, 2016

(Graphic: Business Wire) Multimedia Gallery URL

PORTLAND, Ore.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

Students at Oregon Virtual Academy (ORVA), an accredited, full-time, online public charter school, will begin their 2016-2017 school year on September 6, as the program marks its ninth year of operation in the state. According to a spring 2016 survey conducted by Edge Research, 94% of the families with students enrolled in the school during the 2015-2016 school year felt that their child had benefitted academically from the curriculum.

This Smart News Release features multimedia. View the full release here: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160831006588/en/

ORVA is open to all students in grades K through 12 who reside in Oregon. The rigorous and engaging curriculum offered by the school includes courses in language arts/English, math, science, history, world languages, art and music, as well as elective and Advanced Placement® courses for high school students. State-certified teachers provide instruction, guidance and support, and interact with students and parents via email, web-based classrooms, online discussions, phone and face-to-face meetings. As a public school option, there is no tuition.

ORVA students receive a well-rounded education and one that prepares them for successes after high school,” said Brandy Osborn, Head of School of Oregon Virtual Academy. “We at ORVA are proud of our school, our teachers, staff, and students. ORVA is a great choice for families who are interested in being actively involved in their children’s education.”

Flexibility is a key benefit for ORVA students. The online school setting enables advanced learners to progress faster in subjects at which they excel, while students who need more time to grasp a concept can get that opportunity. Additionally, teachers develop a personalized learning plan for each student that is mapped to their individual educational goals.

ORVA is still accepting enrollments for this fall. For more information, visit the school’s website at www.k12.com/orva.

About Oregon Virtual Academy

Oregon Virtual Academy (ORVA) is an online public charter school authorized by the North Bend School District and open to students in grades K through 12. As part of the Oregon public school system, ORVA is tuition-free, giving parents and families the choice to access the award-winning curriculum and tools provided by K12 Inc. (LRN), the nation’s largest provider of proprietary curriculum and online education programs. For more information about ORVA, visit www.k12.com/orva.

View source version on businesswire.com: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160831006588/en/

MULTIMEDIA AVAILABLE:http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160831006588/en/

What a crock of shit.  The survey asked the parents.  Didn’t bother to check the test scores of the kids.  Of course the parents think their kids did great.  They got A’s when they used to get D’s and F’s.  People are such idiots.

94% of Oregon Virtual Academy Students Benefitted Academically From Curriculum in 2015-2016

<i–< Students return to online public school September 6 —

August 31, 2016 07:28 PM Eastern Daylight Time

PORTLAND, Ore.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Students at Oregon Virtual Academy (ORVA),an accredited, full-time, online public charter school, will begin their 2016-2017 school year on September 6, as the program marks its ninth year of operation in the state. According to a spring 2016 survey conducted by Edge Research, 94% of the families with students enrolled in the school during the 2015-2016 school year felt that their child had benefitted academically from the curriculum.

ORVA students head back to school on Sept. 6!

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ORVA is open to all students in grades K through 12 who reside in Oregon. The rigorous and engaging curriculum offered by the school includes courses in language arts/English, math, science, history, world languages, art and music, as well as elective and Advanced Placement® courses for high school students. State-certified teachers provide instruction, guidance and support, and interact with students and parents via email, web-based classrooms, online discussions, phone and face-to-face meetings. As a public school option, there is no tuition.

“ORVA students receive a well-rounded education and one that prepares them for successes after high school,” said Brandy Osborn, Head of School of Oregon Virtual Academy. “We at ORVA are proud of our school, our teachers, staff, and students. ORVA is a great choice for families who are interested in being actively involved in their children’s education.”

Flexibility is a key benefit for ORVA students. The online school setting enables advanced learners to progress faster in subjects at which they excel, while students who need more time to grasp a concept can get that opportunity. Additionally, teachers develop a personalized learning plan for each student that is mapped to their individual educational goals.

ORVA is still accepting enrollments for this fall. For more information, visit the school’s website at www.k12.com/orva.

About Oregon Virtual Academy

Oregon Virtual Academy (ORVA) is an online public charter school authorized by the North Bend School District and open to students in grades K through 12. As part of the Oregon public school system, ORVA is tuition-free, giving parents and families the choice to access the award-winning curriculum and tools provided by K12 Inc. (NYSE: LRN), the nation’s largest provider of proprietary curriculum and online education programs. For more information about ORVA, visit www.k12.com/orva.

Contacts

Team Soapbox
Anne Heavey, 206-528-2550
anne@teamsoapbox.com

Online School Students’ First Day of School is at Home

<i–< Idaho Technical Career Academy students return to online public
school September 6 —

August 30, 2016 05:50 PM Eastern Daylight Time

MERIDIAN, Idaho–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Students across the state of Idaho in grades K-12 will be returning to
school this fall in the comfort of their own home, having chosen to
attend the full-time, tuition-free, online public school, Idaho
Technical Career Academy (ITCA). ITCA has been operating in Idaho since
2014.

First day of school for ITCA students is September 6!

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ITCA is the state’s only career-technical education online public
charter school serving students in grades 9 through 12. Students have
the opportunity to explore four program options in key industries of
growth in the state: Business Administration, Automated Manufacturing,
Web Design, and Healthcare. The goal of ITCA is to develop a sequence of
instruction that teaches students occupational skills while ultimately
providing a pathway to job opportunities or to a technical college
program upon graduation.

The online school setting enables students in any geographic area of the
state to utilize this unique curriculum. Furthermore, the flexible
learning environment enables students to partner with professionals and
companies to apply the skills they are learning in a specific industry.

ITCA uses the award-winning K12 online curriculum to offer students in
grades K–12 an exceptional learning experience. The innovative
curriculum and technology, combined with a strong partnership between
families and teachers, creates an opportunity for teachers to focus on
each student’s academic needs, and gives a growing number of students a
powerful educational option to reach their true potential.

“ITCA is a new and exciting school option for kids in Idaho,” said Monti
Pittman, Head of School for ITCA. “The focus on career and technical
skill sets – combined with the commitment and passion of our staff –
provides our students with an amazing learning experience.”

Teachers for ITCA are Idaho-credentialed and provide instruction,
guidance and support, and interact with students and parents via email,
web-based classrooms, online discussions, phone and face-to-face
meetings.

ITCA is accepting enrollments for this fall. To learn more about
enrollment requirements visit http://itca.k12.com/.

About Idaho Technical Career Academy

Idaho Technical Career Academy (ITCA) is a full-time online public
school program that serves students in grades 9 through 12 statewide. As
part of the Idaho public school system, ITCA is tuition-free, giving
parents and families the choice to access the award-winning curriculum
and tools provided by K12 Inc. (NYSE: LRN),
the nation’s largest provider of proprietary curriculum and online
education programs. For more information about ITCA, visit http://itca.k12.com/.

Contacts

Team SoapboxAnne Heavey, 206-528-2550anne@teamsoapbox.com

Homeschooling more ‘affordable and flexible’ for many parents in UAE

Education starts at home

Education and the costs attached to it is a hot topic in the UAE.

With fees rising year on year, many parents question whether their children are getting the correct level of learning for the money they are shelling out. But what’s the option? Homeschooling appears to be one avenue that is growing in popularity.

According to Ekta Dhameja, digital marketer at K12 Middle East, the number of UAE families choosing home education is increasing as “parents are taking a more active role in their child’s education”. Other reasons, she says, are affordability, flexibility and tailored learning.

Diane Menzies is a mum of four. She says her two eldest kids adapted well into the UAE school system, but it wasn’t the same for her younger ones, so they gave homeschooling a try. That was seven years ago. Now, they are in high school and happy with the progress they have made.

“Their academic grades have risen, their confidence and self-esteem are far higher,” Diane says. “We have decided to homeschool them until both graduate as I think the brick and mortar schools here have become far too expensive and the teaching support is just not there.”

Diane’s kids are enrolled in K12 – an online American curriculum school fully accredited and licensed by the KHDA. It currently has 700 students enrolled across the GCC.

So what are the benefits of homeschooling? Diane says: “They don’t have to sit at a desk the whole day, my daughter can often be found lounging on a bean bag in her sleepwear doing her school work. We also get one-on-one teaching from subject teachers, which is a huge help for kids who need extra support. I also found that much of the brick and mortar school days were filled with non-academic activities, book week, practising for plays and dress up days. Although this is good for the children I do think that it takes up too much time. We still have fun days, but academics is the main focus.”

With costs rising, parents are crunching numbers and, while it isn’t free, they see homeschooling as an affordable option. In K12, the tuition fee from kindergarten to grade eight is Dhs18,332 per annum.

Diane says she is saving about Dhs80,000 in school and extra fees: “We don’t have to buy uniform or school shoes, we don’t pay for trips or extra activities.”

But about the social disadvantage of having the kids at home? This is a misconception, according to K12’s Ekta, who says: “We organise monthly trips/excursions and these are available to homeschooled students as well as students studying in the Learning Centre at Dubai Knowledge Village.”

Diane also feels a social classroom environment can be distracting. She adds: “I may sound harsh but the main reason a lot of children can’t concentrate is due to the noisy and busy environment of a classroom. “Both of my children are social, my daughter will happily go up to someone new and say hi.”

RELATED: A third of UAE parents looking to switch child’s school

But studying at home is not at easy, as some would think. They say hard work, commitment and dedication from both parent and child are needed. “The main challenge is getting them up in the morning and keeping them on schedule, I have to be very organised to ensure that work is handed in when it is due,” Diane says.

Mum Jenny also homeschooled her son for three years. “It can sometimes be hard to separate being a mom and being a teacher. He did not have the option of coming home from school and complaining about his teacher,” she quips. Her daughter, on the other hand, was never homeschooled.

But in the debate between homeschool vs traditional school, the important thing is providing quality education for the child. This year, Jenny is enrolling her son back to regular school. She feels this is the best for him as he now enters the fourth grade. “Each child is different, and each year is a new start to evaluate what is best for that child at that time. As with most things there are advantages and disadvantages to both. I loved homeschooling, but I am looking forward to hopefully being a really supportive parent to the teachers my children will have this year.”

Tell us your views at @7DAYSUAE and take our poll on homeschooling at 7days.ae

glaiza@7days.ae

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An election year when school choice is ignored

By Nate Davis, contributor    

Getty Images

It’s bad enough that during two straight weeks of Republican and Democratic conventions, we never really grasped a true sense of what newly nominated presidential contenders would do to improve the uncertain state of K-12 education in America.

Worse — especially since then — is that we have yet to see a solid reform-driven or innovation-focused commitment from candidates as the solution to our education crisis. A sorely needed exchange on parental choice and access to creative online learning platforms is, perhaps, the most significant missing policy deep-dive since the presidential cycle began in earnest over a year ago. For the most part, presidential candidates have steered clear of any focus on choice in K-12 as a main prescription to constant problems plaguing our school systems and challenging our kids.

That’s unfortunate, since parents are voters, too.

It is rather mysterious considering the sheer size, cost and long-term destructive impact of the K-12 crisis. Yet, as candidates on the campaign trail bludgeoned each other over everything from salacious tweets, badly placed emails and hand sizes, little is said on how policymakers could intervene to save the nation’s struggling elementary, middle and high-school students. The intervention is clearly found in school districts embracing new, progressive education models that meet the needs of future societies and workforces — models such as blended experiential and online learning in and, yes, outside the conventional classroom. Models, such as charter schools, that offer parents the options they need to ensure their child’s success in an increasingly competitive global environment.

That battle is no more urgent for any group than it is for our nation’s most underserved and historically distressed: from black and Latino youth to low-income and struggling working-class communities already battered by the effects (and after-effects) of recession. The last thing already economically challenged black or brown students and their parents should worry about is the quality of their education.

Likewise, those high-achieving students, rural students, bullied students and others are desperate for choices that allow them to excel in their education. For example: I met a student from West Virginia last week who enrolled in online courses that she could not take in her local, excellent but small neighborhood school. She and her parents were told by the guidance counselor that the courses she wanted were unavailable. The eventual valedictorian for her class, she took additional courses from a for-profit online provider that allowed her to achieve higher SAT scores and take courses otherwise unavailable to her. There were even language courses available that she would otherwise only take in college. Without choice, this high-achieving student — like hundreds of thousands of others — would not continue to excel and would be limited in what local schools could offer.

Clearly, you can’t have a conversation about improving the quality of life for underserved, diverse populations or high-achieving students unless you pose workable ideas on education. You can’t pose workable ideas on education or expect the condition of underserved youth to improve if you refuse to put school choice and access to new modes of learning in the mix.

Major openings for the presidential candidates to discuss choice and online education as a primary learning tool are either conveniently dismissed, lost in political posturing or altogether forgotten. We clearly can’t rely on the articulation of a policy vision from the Republican nominee (for obvious reasons). But when we look to Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonEx-GM CEO: I’ve always voted Republican until now Election reveals Paul Ryan to be worst speaker in U.S. history Dem Senate candidate knocks Rubio for Trump support MORE for a thoughtful approach on issues such as parental choice, we find her either taking the side of unionized teachers (even if it contradicts earlier, steadfast support for charter schools) or completely missing those grand opportunities to present it as a viable long-term beacon of educational hope.

Nowhere was that unfortunate oversight on vivid display than at her recent appearance before a joint meeting of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. When offered a few moments to lay out her policy vision for black and brown progress in America, Clinton left out school choice and relegated digital learning to merely PCs in the classroom.

Nor did the assemblage of esteemed African-American and Latino reporters, talk-show hosts, editors and producers ask her about it.

Unfortunately, online, radio and cable outlets are so focused on the latest campaign gaffe or doubled down faux pas that the plight of school children gets left behind in the political dust-up.

Still, campaigns refuse any raised or sustained debate on choice as a tangible way to address our ongoing K-12 crisis with any tangible solutions. Few want to take a firm position supporting parental preference in education, despite the vast number of voting parents who want (and need) it. Most seem oblivious to the need for expanded and innovative options for K-12 students, despite an abundance of evidence suggesting online learning, blended classrooms and access to multifaceted educational environments are exactly what’s essential for an increasingly diverse American landscape.

Yet, when examining many of the larger national polls, parents — especially black and Latino parents — are demanding more choice and creative, digital learning in and outside the classroom. In a National Alliance for Public Charter Schools poll released this year, 80 percent of parents supported some form of educational choice, including 63 percent of black parents and 55 percent of Hispanic parents. A Pathways/YouGov survey on school preferences found that black and Hispanic parents were "more likely" to consider "integrated use of technology" when education options were available.

For these population groups, education is perceived as the most effective pathway to upward socioeconomic mobility. The Pew Research Center shows that 66 percent of Americans identify education as a top 10 issue motivating choices this election cycle. In the most recent weekly YouGov/Economist survey, education still ranks among the top-five issues (out of 15), with more African-Americans and Latinos placing it as a "most important issue" than whites. For voters under 30, education is the top concern (partly out of struggles over student debt, and partly out of recent experiences with troubled school systems). That aligns with a recent GenForward joint poll where education was a top-three concern for voters ages 18 to 30, especially voters of color.

This is not much of a surprise. Education is a greater priority to individuals who find themselves historically disadvantaged or farther down the income ladder. To those faced with fewer resources and access to wealth, education is increasingly respected as the ultimate driver of future success — and choice is a chief path to that goal. Yet, presidential nominees and their parties have failed to promote a vision of what will make K-12 education better, even as the shifting demographic environment continues to demand such.

That school choice is not a headlining issue of our time rests not on the shoulders of voters. Elected officials, policymakers, pundits and those who constitute the rest of our active political and media class must aggressively tackle that discussion. We need a debate and movement where educational options are plentiful and innovation in (and outside) the classroom is the norm rather than the exception.

Davis is executive chairman of K12 Inc., a technology-based education company and leading provider of online learning programs to schools across the U.S.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

Enrollment and Achievement in Ohio’s Virtual Charter Schools

August 02, 2016

Vertical Tabs

Fordham’s latest study, conducted by learning technology researcher June Ahn from NYU, dives into one of the most promising—and contentious—issues in education today: virtual schools. What type of students choose them? Which online courses do students take? Do virtual schools lead to improved outcomes for kids?

With over thirty-five thousand students enrolled in its fully online charter schools (“e-schools”), Ohio boasts one of the country’s largest populations of full-time virtual students. The sector has also grown tremendously, with a 60 percent increase in enrollment over the past four years—more than any other type of public school. Using four years of comprehensive student-level data to examine Ohio’s e-schools, the study finds: 

  • E-school students are mostly similar in race and ethnicity to students in brick-and-mortar district schools. But e-school students are lower-achieving (and more likely to have repeated the prior grade), more likely to participate in the federal free and reduced-price lunch program, and less likely to participate in gifted education.
  • Students taking online math courses are more likely to enroll in basic classes relative to students taking face-to-face courses. Almost no students take advanced math courses (like AP Statistics, Calculus, or Algebra II) online, especially compared to students who take face-to-face classes.
  • Across all grades and subjects, students who attend e-schools perform worse on state tests than otherwise-similar students who attend brick-and-mortar district schools, even accounting for prior achievement. In contrast, students in grades 4–8 who attend brick-and-mortar charter schools perform slightly better than their district school counterparts in both reading and math. Results are mixed but modest for students in grade ten.
  • Findings also suggest that e-schools drag down the performance of the entire charter sector.

Online schools offer an efficient way to diversify—and even democratize—education in a connected world. Yet they have received negative, but well-deserved, attention concerning their poor academic performance, attrition rates, and ill capacity to educate the types of students who enroll in them. This is especially true in Ohio, where virtual schools have failed (as yet) to realize their potential.

Using a slightly different analytical approach than CREDO’s Online Charter School Study (2015), Dr. Ahn’s results corroborate the disappointing findings on Ohio’s online schools. Bold changes in policy and practice are needed to ensure that these schools better serve their students. For advocates of online learning and educational choice, the work has just begun.

Can Policymakers Fix What Ails Online Charter Schools?

By Dara Zeehandelaar and Michael J. Petrilli

08/08/2016

A major development of recent years has been the explosive growth of online learning in K–12 education. Sometimes it takes the form of “blended learning,” with students receiving a mix of online and face-to-face instruction. Students may also learn via web-based resources like the Khan Academy, or by enrolling in distance-learning “independent study” courses. In addition, an increasing number of pupils are taking the plunge into fully online schools: In 2015, an estimated 275,000 students enrolled in full-time virtual charter schools across twenty-five states.

The Internet has obviously opened a new frontier of instructional possibilities. Much less certain is whether such opportunities are actually improving achievement, especially for the types of students who enroll in virtual schools. In Enrollment and Achievement in Ohio’s Virtual Charter Schools, we at Fordham examined this issue using data from our home state of Ohio, where online charter schools (“e-schools”) are a rapidly growing segment of K–12 education. Today they enroll more than thirty-five thousand students, one of the country’s largest populations of full-time online students. Ohio e-school enrollment has grown 60 percent over the last four years, a rate greater than any other type of public school. But even since they launched, e-schools have received negative press for their poor academic performance, high attrition rates, and questionable capacity to educate the types of students who choose them. It’s clearly a sector that needs attention.

Our study focuses on the demographics, course-taking patterns, and academic results of pupils attending Ohio’s e-schools. It was authored by Dr. June Ahn, an associate professor at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. He’s an expert in how technology can enhance how education is delivered and how students learn.

Using student-level data from 2009–10 through 2012–13, Dr. Ahn reports that e-schools serve a unique population. Compared to students in brick-and-mortar district schools, e-school students are initially lower-achieving (and more likely to have repeated the prior grade), more likely to participate in the federal free and reduced-price lunch program, and less likely to participate in gifted education. (Brick-and-mortar charters attract even lower-performing students.)

The analysis also finds that, controlling for demographics and prior achievement, e-school students perform worse than students who attend brick-and-mortar district schools. Put another way, on average, Ohio’s e-school students start the school year academically behind and lose even more ground (relative to their peers) during the year. That finding corroborates the disappointing results from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) 2015 analysis of virtual charter schools nationwide, which used a slightly different analytical approach.

Importantly, this study considers e-school students separately from those in other charters. It finds that brick-and-mortar charter students in grades 4–8 outperform their peers in district schools in both reading and math. In high school, brick-and-mortar charter students perform better in science, no better or worse in math, and slightly worse in reading and writing compared to students in district schools. This confirms what some Ohioans have long suspected: E-schools weigh down the overall impact of the Buckeye State’s charter sector. Separate out the e-school results and Ohio’s brick-and-mortar charters look a lot better than when the entire sector is treated as a whole.

The consistent, negative findings for e-school students are troubling, to say the least. One obvious remedy is to pull the plug—literally and figuratively—but we think that would be a mistake. Surely it’s possible, especially as technology and online pedagogy improve, to create virtual schools that serve students well. The challenge now is to boost outcomes for online learners, not to eliminate the online option. We therefore offer three recommendations for policy makers and advocates in states that, like Ohio, are wrestling to turn the rapid development of online schools into a net plus for their pupils.

First, policy makers should adopt performance-based funding for e-schools. When students complete courses successfully and demonstrate that they have mastered the expected competencies, e-schools would get paid. This creates incentives for e-schools to focus on what matters most—academic progress—while tempering their appetite for enrollment growth and the dollars tied to it. It would also encourage them to recruit students likely to succeed in an online environment—a form of “cream-skimming” that is not only defensible but, in this case, preferable. At the very least, proficiency-based funding is one way for e-schools to demonstrate that they are successfully delivering the promised instruction to students. That should be appealing to them given the difficulty in defining, tracking, and reporting “attendance” and “class time” at an online school.

Second, policy makers should seek ways to improve the fit between students and e-schools. Based on the demographics we report, it seems that students selecting Ohio’s e-schools may be those least likely to succeed in a school format that requires independent learning, self-motivation, and self-regulation. Lawmakers could explore rules that exempt e-schools from policies requiring all charters, virtual ones included, to accept every student who applies and instead allow e-schools to operate more like magnet schools with admissions procedures and priorities. E-schools would be able to admit students best situated to take advantage of the unique elements of virtual schooling: flexible hours and pacing, a safe and familiar location for learning, a chance for individuals with social or behavioral problems to focus on academics, greater engagement from students who are able to choose electives based on their own interests, and the chance to develop high-level virtual communication skills. E-schools should also consider targeting certain students through advertising and outreach, especially if they can’t be selective. At the very least, states with fully online schools should adopt a policy like the one in Ohio, which requires such schools to offer an orientation course—the perfect occasion to set high expectations for students as they enter and let them know what would help them thrive in an online learning environment (e.g., a quiet place to study, a dedicated amount of time to devote to academics).

Third, policy makers should support online course choice (also called “course access”), so that students interested in web-based learning can avail themselves of online options without enrolling full-time. Ohio currently confronts students with a daunting decision: either transfer to a full-time e-school or stay in their traditional school and potentially be denied the chance to take tuition-free, credit-bearing virtual courses aligned to state standards. Instead of forcing an all-or-nothing choice, policy makers should ensure that a menu of course options is available to students, including courses delivered online. To safeguard quality and public dollars, policy makers should also create oversight to vet online options (and veto shoddy or questionable ones). Financing arrangements may need to change, too, perhaps in ways that more directly link funding to actual course providers. If it were done right, however, course choice would not only open more possibilities for students, but also ratchet up the competition that online schools face—and perhaps compel them to improve the quality of their own services.

Innovation is usually an iterative process. Many of us remember the earliest personal computers—splendid products for playing Oregon Trail, but now artifacts of the past. Fortunately, innovators and engineers kept pushing the envelope for faster, nimbler, smarter devices. Today, we are blessed as customers with easy-to-use laptops, tablets, and more. But proximity to technology, no matter how advanced, isn’t enough. E-schools and their kin should facilitate understanding of how best to utilize online curricula and non-traditional learning environments, especially for underserved learners. From this evidence base, providers should then be held to high standards of practice. Though the age of online learning has dawned, there is much room for improvement in online schooling—and nowhere more than in Ohio. For advocates of online learning, and educational choice, the work has just begun.

—Dara Zeehandelaar and Mike Petrilli

This post originally appeared on Flypaper

How can we improve the performance and accountability of Pennsylvania cyber charters?

If it sometimes seems like “tuition-free” cyber charter ads are running non-stop, consider that in just one year your tax dollars paid for 19,298 local TV commercials for Agora Cyber Charter, just one of Pennsylvania’s 13 cyber charters.  And far from being tuition-free, total cyber tuition paid by Pennsylvania taxpayers from 500 school districts for 2013, 2014 and 2015 was $393.5 million, $398.8 million and $436.1 million respectively.

Those commercials were very effective, especially if you were an executive at K12, Inc., a for-profit company contracted to manage the cyberschool.  According to Agora’s 2013 IRS filing, it paid $69.5 million that year to K12, Inc.  According to Morningstar, total executive compensation at K12 in 2013 was $21.37 million.

Not so effective for kids or taxpayers, though.  What the ads don’t tell you is that they are paid for using your school tax dollars instead of those funds being spent in classrooms, and that academic performance at every one of Pennsylvania’s cyber charters has been consistently dismal.  While the PA Dept. of Education considers a score of 70 to be passing, Agora’s PA School Performance Profile (SPP) scores for 2013, 2014 and 2015 were 48.3, 42.4 and 46.4.

In fact, not one of Pennsylvania’s cyber charters has achieved a passing SPP score of 70 in any of the three years that the SPP has been in effect.  Additionally, most PA cybers never made adequate yearly progress during all the years (2005-2012) that the federal No Child Left Behind law was in effect.  While cybers may be a great fit for some kids, overall they have been an enormous waste of taxpayer dollars drawn from all 500 school districts without any authorization by those districts.  Unlike brick and mortar charter schools which must be authorized by their local school district, cyber charters were authorized, and are ostensibly overseen by the state Dept. of Education.

Even if the cyber’s SPP score is 50 points less than a school district school, locally elected school boards have virtually no discretion when it comes to paying cyber tuition bills.  If they don’t pay the cyber school the Department of Education will draft their account.

These poor results are reflected in national studies.  Stanford University reported that online schools have an “overwhelming negative impact,” showing severe shortfalls in reading and math achievement.  The shortfall for most cyber students, they said, was equal to losing 72 days of learning in reading and 180 days in math during the typical 180-day school year.  In math it is as if they did not go to school at all.  The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, a charter advocacy group based in Washington, said the findings were so troubling that the report should be “a call to action for authorizers and policymakers.”

What can Pennsylvania policymakers do to improve the performance and accountability of our cyber charters?  Here are some possibilities for our legislators to consider as they return from summer break.

Consider cyber charter reform separately from brick and mortar charter school reform legislation.  Charter reform has proven to be a very tough nut to crack.  There seems to be increasing agreement that cyber education as presently configured is not working for most of our students or our taxpayers.

Consider closing some of the most persistently underperforming cybers with scores in the 20s, 30s and 40s and have their students transfer to one of the better performing schools.  One of the tenets of school choice is supposed to be that failing schools would be closed.

Consider funding cyber education via a separate dedicated budget line instead of tuition payments from school districts.  These schools are already authorized by the state department of ed, not by school boards.

Consider providing PDE with the staffing and resources needed to effectively oversee the cyber charters that they have authorized.

Consider the recommendations of the PA Auditor General’s June 2012 special report on Charter and Cyber Charter Education Funding Reform. http://www.paauditor.gov/Media/Default/Reports/CyberCharterSpecialReport201206.pdf

Consider the recommendations of the PA Special Education Funding Commission’s December 2013 report that calls for using three funding categories based upon the intensity of services required to meet special education students’ needs.

In 2014-15 cyber charters reportedly received over $100 million more in special education tuition payments than they actually spent on special education services.

http://www.elc-pa.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/SpecialEducationFundingCommissionReport_12_11_13.pdf

Consider requiring all ads for cyber charters to clearly state that the ads are paid for using school tax dollars and to clearly state the cyber charter’s SPP score and the fact that a score of 70 is considered passing.

Consider creating a centralized marketing website at PDE instead of having cyber charters spend tax dollars on ads.  This site would link to the websites for each of the state’s cyber schools.

A blog posting entitled “Can-policymakers-fix-what-ails-online-charter-schools? by Dara Zeehandelaar and Michael J. Petrilli recommended three strategies for improving online schools:

(1) Consider adopting performance-based funding for e-schools.  When students complete courses successfully and demonstrate that they have mastered the expected competencies, cybers schools would get paid. This creates incentives for cybers to focus on what matters most—academic progress—while tempering their appetite for enrollment growth and the dollars tied to it. It would also encourage them to recruit students likely to succeed in an online environment.

(2) Policy makers should seek ways to improve the fit between students and e-schools. It seems that students selecting cyber schools may be those least likely to succeed in a school format that requires independent learning, self-motivation, and self-regulation.  Lawmakers could explore rules that exempt cyber schools from policies requiring all charters, virtual ones included, to accept every student who applies and instead allow cybers to operate more like magnet schools with admissions procedures and priorities.

(3) Policy makers should support online course choice, so that students interested in web-based learning can avail themselves of online options without enrolling full-time in a cyber charter. This might include encouraging students to use their own school districts’ programs if their school district or intermediate unit offers cyber education.

Cyber charters were intended to be a better alternative to traditional schools that were deemed as failing.  Over 10 years later that has consistently proven not to be the case.  We have spent over $1 billion in tax dollars on cyber tuition in Pennsylvania in just the past three years.  Our students and taxpayers deserve better.

Lawrence A. Feinberg of Ardmore is serving in his 17th year as a school director in Haverford Township.  He is the founder and a co-chairman of the Keystone State Education Coalition.

Alabama Virtual Academy at Eufaula City Schools (ALVA) Kicks Off its Second School Year

EUFAULA, Ala.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

Students at Alabama Virtual Academy at Eufaula City Schools (ALVA), an accredited, full-time, online public charter school, began their 2016-2017 school year on August 4th. This marks its 2nd year of operation in the state.

Alabama Virtual Academy at Eufaula City Schools is a tuition-free, full-time public school program for grades K-12. Students at ALVA follow the Eufaula City Schools district calendar.

Students enrolled at Alabama Virtual Academy at Eufaula City Schools learn outside the traditional classroom and receive their courses and participate in teacher-led instruction online. State-certified teachers work in close partnership with parents or other guardians who serve as learning coaches for the students.

“We are excited to be working with students and families in Alabama this year through Eufaula City Schools,” said Kayleen Marble, ALVA Head of School, “We are looking forward to meeting all of our students and providing them an excellent education option through this program.”

Earlier this summer, ALVA challenged enrolled families to prevent summer ‘brain drain’ by offering students free access to LearnBop, a self-paced solution that simulates a one-on-one, personalized math tutoring experience. The award-winning online program will continue to be available free of charge throughout the fall and can be used alongside the regular math curriculum to build math skills or prepare for high-level exams.

Eufaula City Schools is partnering with K12 Inc. Alabama Virtual Academy at Eufaula City Schools will use K12’s award-winning curriculum and academic services. K12 Inc. is accredited by AdvancED, the world’s largest education community.

About Eufaula City Schools

Established in 1872, Eufaula City Schools is the oldest city school district in Alabama and is the heartbeat of this beautiful southeast Alabama city. Eufaula City Schools is a progressive district providing many academic, enrichment, and technical opportunities for students and teachers while maintaining the values and traditions of the best in public schools. More information can be found at www.ecs.k12.al.us.

About K12 Inc. K12 Inc. (LRN), is the nation’s largest provider of proprietary curriculum and online education programs. For more information on the school, please visit: http://alva.k12.com and follow us on Facebook.

View source version on businesswire.com: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160815005923/en/

K12 Inc. Deploys D2L’s Brightspace Across High School, Middle School and Fuel Education

KITCHENER, ON–(Marketwired – August 11, 2016) – D2L, a global learning technology leader, today announced that K12 Inc., one of the largest virtual schools in the U.S., is continuing to expand the use of the Brightspace LMS. Following a successful rollout to thousands of students across the country enrolled in K12’s high school, K12 is now making Brightspace available to thousands more middle school students.

In addition, K12’s Fuel Education will use Brightspace for the distribution of its curriculum. Fuel Education will begin rolling out Brightspace in December with a full rollout scheduled for the first half of 2017.

D2L’s Brightspace platform was embraced by K12 due to a fundamental distinction: Brightspace delivers a personalized learning experience, not the one-size-fits-all model utilized by traditional LMS offerings. Brightspace was designed with modern students in mind and offers a clean, responsive user experience as well as integrated social media, game-based learning, chat and advanced video features. The new Brightspace Daylight experience lets students and teachers use smartphones, tablets or any browser-enabled device, eliminating barriers to learning. Teachers also favor Brightspace because engagement data — offered via real-time learning analytics </strong–< can help them improve student outcomes.

“D2L’s customers such as K12 Inc. care deeply about the educational experience and want a more personalized, engaging learning platform to help each learner learn their own way,” said John Baker, CEO of D2L. “Brightspace is an easy, flexible and smart LMS that was built from the ground up to do exactly that. We are very pleased that K12 and Fuel Education learners will benefit from this personalized approach and learn on their own terms to achieve their academic goals. We look forward to continuing to broaden the scope of our partnership.”

“Our goal in considering a new LMS was to improve student engagement, retention and outcomes while advancing our effort to deliver a more mobile-ready curriculum,” explained Lynda Cloud, Executive Vice President of Products at K12 Inc. “After thorough evaluation, K12 chose D2L to power K12’s next-generation online high school and middle school. The Brightspace platform has enabled us to provide students, learning coaches, and teachers with an innovative, engaging and collaborative learning experience that puts tools and resources right at their fingertips. Parents find that both they and their students have better visibility into what students need to do each day, allowing them to spend more time learning.”

D2L’s track record of innovation has been widely recognized. In March, Fast Company ranked D2L #6 on the Most Innovative Companies of 2016 list in the Data Science Category, amongst Google, IBM, Spotify, Costco, and Blue Cross Blue Shield. eLearning Magazine recently rated D2L as #1 in Adaptive Learning, and Brightspace was recently named the #1 LMS in Higher Ed by Ovum Research.

To learn more about Brightspace, visit http://www.d2l.com/products/learning-environment/.

ABOUT K12 INC.

K12 Inc. (LRN) is driving innovation and advancing the quality of education by delivering state-of-the-art, digital learning platforms and technology to students and school districts across the globe. K12’s award winning curriculum serves over 2,000 schools and school districts and has delivered more than four million courses over the past decade. K12 is a company of educators with the nation’s largest network of K-12 online school teachers, providing instruction, academic services, and learning solutions to public schools and districts, traditional classrooms, blended school programs, and directly to families. The K12 program is offered through K12 partner public schools in approximately two-thirds of the states and the District of Columbia, and through private schools serving students in all 50 states and more than 100 countries. More information can be found at K12.com.

ABOUT FUEL EDUCATION

Fuel Education™ partners with school districts to fuel personalized learning and transform the education experience inside and outside the classroom. The company provides innovative solutions for pre-K through 12th grade that empower districts to implement successful online and blended learning programs. Its open, easy-to-use Personalized Learning Platform, PEAK™, enables teachers to customize courses using their own content, FuelEd courses and titles, third-party content, and open educational resources. Fuel Education offers one of the industry’s largest catalogs of K–12 digital curriculum, certified instruction, professional development, and educational services. FuelEd has helped 2,000 school districts to improve student outcomes and better serve diverse student populations. To learn more, visit getfueled.com and Twitter.

ABOUT BRIGHTSPACE

D2L’s Brightspace is a digital learning platform that helps schools and institutions deliver personalized learning experiences in a classroom or online to people anywhere in the world. Created for the digital learner, Brightspace is cloud-based, runs on mobile devices, and offers rich multimedia to increase engagement, productivity and knowledge retention. The platform makes it easy to design courses, create content, and grade assignments, giving instructors more time to focus on what’s most important – greater teaching and learning. At the same time, analytics reports track and deliver insights into the performance levels of departments, courses, or individuals.

ABOUT D2L

D2L is the software leader that makes learning experiences better. The company’s cloud-based platform, Brightspace, is easy to use, flexible, and smart. With Brightspace, organizations can personalize the experience for every learner to deliver real results. The company is a world leader in learning analytics: its platform predicts learner performance so that organizations can take action in real-time to keep learners on track. Brightspace is used by learners in higher education, K-12, and the enterprise sector, including the Fortune 1000. D2L has operations in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, Brazil, and Singapore. www.d2l.com

© 2016 D2L Corporation.

The D2L family of companies includes D2L Corporation, D2L Ltd, D2L Australia Pty Ltd, D2L Europe Ltd, D2L Asia Pte Ltd, and D2L Brasil Soluções de Tecnologia para Educação Ltda.

All D2L marks are trademarks of D2L Corporation. Please visit D2L.com/trademarks for a list of D2L marks.