Maine Virtual Academy Celebrates Start of 2016-2017 School Year

Statewide online school welcomes students back on August 29th

August 26, 2016 04:02 PM Eastern Daylight Time

AUGUSTA, Maine–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Maine Virtual Academy (MEVA),a statewide online public charter
school, will begin the 2016-2017 school year on August 29. As an online
public school program authorized by the Maine Charter School Commission,
MEVA is tuition-free for students in grades 7-12 who reside anywhere in
the state.

The first day of school for MEVA students is August 29!

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MEVA incorporates online lessons and instruction from highly qualified,
Maine-licensed teachers who monitor student progress, provide
professional insight, and work in partnership with parents. Teachers
communicate with students and parents via phone, email and the online
classroom technology in order to provide an individualized approach that
helps prepare students for post-graduation career or college success.

“At Maine Virtual Academy we ensure the success of our students through
a dedicated approach to individualized education,” said Dr. Melinda
Browne, Head of School of Maine Virtual Academy. “Our teachers work
closely with students and their families to develop an individual
learning plan, which allows each student to work at their own pace and
meet his or her academic goals. We have an exciting year ahead of us and
look forward to our students’ continued success both in class and in the
MEVA community.”

Students can chose from a diverse middle school and high school K12catalog
of courses, including many electives that are not offered in traditional
schools. Students have the freedom to progress through lessons at their
own pace, while receiving quality instruction, support, and individual
attention from teachers. The school also offers clubs, school outings,
dances and other activities to foster community.

MEVA students receive instruction from their teachers during live,
interactive online classes, as well as through recorded sessions.
Teachers are also available to students and their Learning Coachesvia
email, phone and one-on-one online instruction.

MEVA is authorized by the Maine Charter School Commission and is
governed by an independent, non-profit board of directors. The school’s
team of educators and school leaders are based at the school’s
administrative headquarters. Interested families are encouraged to visit
for more information on the school and how to enroll.

About Maine Virtual Academy

Maine Virtual Academy (MEVA) is a full-time online public school program
that serves students in grades 7 through 12. Authorized by the Maine
Charter School Commission, MEVA is available tuition-free to students in
the state of Maine and utilizes the award-winning curriculum from K12
Inc. (NYSE: LRN), the nation’s largest provider of proprietary
curriculum and online education programs for grades K-12. For more
information about MEVA, visit


Maine Virtual Academy (MEVA)Donna Savarese,

K12 (LRN) Regains Footing After Massive Sell-off

Stephen L Kanaval

Wednesday, 10 August 2016 15:26 (EST)

K12 (LRN)), a technology-based education provider,is now involved in multiple class action lawsuits alleging that the company lied about its student success rates, parent satisfaction, class size, graduates’ eligibility for the University of California and California State University, among other modes of data that was used in press releases and advertisements.

The class action lawsuits stem from a San Jose Mercury News investigation from April this year that looked to expose K12 as a fraudulent moneymaking enterprise that fabricated a wide variety of claims (summarized above).The investigation aimed to demonstrate how K12, a Virginia-based company, took advantage of California education law that have no specific rule about for-profit firms running charter schools in the state. Initially, K12 established online schools with individual, separate names so that the school and the corporation seemed unlinked for tax-exempt purposes because Federal Tax Laws prohibit charitable organizations from working to benefit a company. However, the report alleges that K12 employees started online schools posing as a “group of parents.” The company tried later to open a brick and mortar school in Contra Costa County, but was denied on the grounds that the Virginia administrative entity would be running day-today decision making. In addition, the report found that teachers lied about attendance to keep taxpayer dollars coming, very few online students earned diplomas, the company has reaped $312 million in profits over the last twelve years, schools that oversee the online academies get a cut of revenues and are inclined to turn the other way when they see inaccuracies, and many students test well-below state standards in reading and math.

Now, that being said, the company has rallied since April and many analysts were buying the stock to capitalize on the lower cost. In its most recent press release this Tuesday, the company saw earnings per share fall and revenues slumped by 9%. Following that, the stock was sliding but rallied again this morning. During the same press release, the company also said that they have settled with the Attorney General of California and no wrongdoing was admitted. The company logged a $7.1 million settlement for 4Q as a net charge that will go to taxpayers and government expenses accrued in the probe. The volatility of LRN is well documented and many buyers will stay away as more lawsuits are coming, but the truth is that the company is still enrolling students in public school areas and at-home.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to:


Symbol Name Price Change % Volume
 Follow LRN K12 Inc 11.70 154,769


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This Free Education Comes with Strings Attached

What if you were able to homeschool for free?

This fall, Omaha Public Schools is opening a new online kindergarten-through-8th-grade school specifically targeting homeschooled students. In fact, only homeschooled students are eligible to enroll this year.

The program, Omaha Virtual School (OVS), is a publicly funded school that allows students to complete much of their coursework from the comforts of home. Enrolled students may also receive access to a computer and low-cost internet as an added benefit. The school is being marketed as the best of both worlds: Homeschooling with the support of professionals—and no price tag.

Sound too good to be true? It might be. Before you sign up, HSLDA recommends that you count the cost. Public programs like OVS take control of the academic curriculum and coursework away from parents and place it in the hands of the public school system. While parents have some involvement, they play of the role of “coach” and make way for certified teachers to do the bulk of the teaching. Parents will have little to no say in the educational objectives or course content of OVS classes.

Consider also the concerning results of studies on the academic achievement of publicly funded virtual schools in other states:

  • A National Education Policy Center study by Western Michigan University researchers showed that only 27.7% of full-time virtual schools run by K12 Inc. met the federal academic progress goals (compared to 52% of traditional public schools). Students in K12 schools scored lower in both reading and math and had an on-time graduation rate of a mere 49%, compared to a statewide average of 79% in states where K12 schools were located.
  • In 2011, Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) reported that virtual students in Pennsylvania scored 13% worse in reading and 24% worse in math than students in public brick-and-mortar schools.
  • In its 2015 Online Charter School Study, CREDO found innovative new research suggesting that students of online charter schools had significantly weaker academic performance in math and reading, compared with their counterparts in conventional schools.
  • As reported in Education Week in January 2016, the Walton Family Foundation, which has pumped millions of dollars into virtual learning, conducted a series of studies on the academic achievement of these virtual schools. The conclusion: “stark evidence that most online charters have a negative impact on students’ academic achievement.”
  • Individual news stories abound using the familiar phrases such as “lagging behind” and “smaller learning gains” to describe the academic plight of virtual school students. For example, a 2011 New York Times article on the Agora Cyber Charter School reported that 60% of students are behind in math, 50% are behind in reading, and one-third do not graduate on time.

This research, coupled with the evidence showing the profound academic success of private home education, indicates that the home environment is not the only key to homeschoolers’ academic success. HSLDA believes one of the primary reasons homeschooled students excel is the regular parental involvement and control of the educational program. Parents know their children best and care about their children more than any other person or entity. Thus, they are best situated to craft a custom-tailored educational plan to meet the individual needs of each unique child.

We understand that homeschooling is hard work for both parents and students. And we know it comes with a price tag: though options for homeschool curriculum abound as the number of homeschooled students has now topped 2 million, this material is not free or even cheap. However, HSLDA cautions families to carefully calculate the cost of publicly funded free education before handing over educational control to the public school. Students in virtual schools perform worse academically than their peers, on average, and public funding of homeschooling brings public control and standardization, eliminating the distinctiveness of private homeschooling and inviting regulation.

As always, feel free to contact our office with your questions about homeschooling in Nebraska.


Homeschool Research

Understanding and Improving Full-Time Virtual Schools (National Education Policy Center)

Walton Family Foundation: We Must Rethink Online Learning (Education Week)

Profits and Questions at Online Charter Schools (New York Times)

Studies: Existing full-time virtual schools earn poor grades (Portland Press Herald)

Charter School Performance in Pennsylvania (Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes)

Online Charter School Study 2015 (Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes)

California Looks Into K12 Inc. The Result: a $168.5 Million Settlement (or $2.5 Million, Depending on Who’s Counting)


By David Safier

on Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 9:00 AM

click to enlarge

  • Courtesy of PhotoSpin

Imagine a group of students walk through the school doors sometime during the day, spend a few minutes lounging around the office, then leave. The school marks them present and collects their per-student money from the state.

According to an investigation by California’s Attorney General, that was business as usual at K12 Inc.’s online school, California Virtual Academy—emphasis on the word “business,” because K12 Inc. is a publicly traded, for-profit corporation. Students would sign into school on their home computers, then leave a few minutes later, and they would be marked present. That’s not just a problem at the California school. According to a number of investigative articles about K12 Inc.’s online schools around the country, teachers are urged to hang onto students who are enrolled but don’t spend enough time online or do enough work to pass their classes. Once they’ve been around long enough to qualify for state funding, they can be cut loose.

Misreporting attendance was only one issue that led California to reach a $168.5 million settlement with the company. According to the Attorney General,

“K12 and its schools misled parents and the State of California by claiming taxpayer dollars for questionable student attendance, misstating student success and parent satisfaction and loading nonprofit charities with debt.”

The settlement is $2.5 million plus $6 million to cover legal costs to the state, and $160 million to wipe out debts CAVA owes to K12 Inc. 

Charter school supporters aren’t complaining about the ruling. The California Charter Schools Association joined the California Teachers Association in applauding the decision. K12 Inc. is a major reason why some pro-charter organizations recently published a paper demanding improvement of online charter schools.

K12 Inc. hates that $168.5 million figure. According to a corporate press release, it’s really only a $2.5 million settlement with no admission of liability or wrongdoing. As for that $160 million in debt relief to CAVA,

“There is no ‘debt relief’ to the CAVA schools. The balance budget credits essentially act as subsidies to protect the CAVA schools, its students and teachers against financial uncertainties. CAVA schools have not paid that money to K12 and K12 never expected to receive it given California’s funding environment.”

I’m not savvy enough about how K12 Inc. operates to know why it keeps those “subsidies” on the books if it doesn’t expect them to be paid, but I know that another national charter chain, Imagine Schools, also shows outrageously high debts individual schools owe the parent company. It may look good on the books to list it as money to be collected at a later date rather than writing it off, or it may be a way of making sure the schools are too financially indebted to declare their independence from the larger corporation and go their own way.

Problems with CAVA and K12 Inc. were exposed in an excellent series of investigative reports by San Jose’s Mercury News, but the publicly traded corporation has been the subject of continued scrutiny by journalists across the country for years without resulting in state investigations. One probable reason is, K12 Inc. has less political clout in heavily Democratic California than in other states like, say, Arizona, where Craig Barrett, ex-CEO of Intel and current president and chairman of BASIS Schools, Inc., sits on the K12 Inc. Board and is compensated $190,000 for a few hours work. Also, California Attorney General Kamila Harris is running for the U.S. Senate, so a high profile case like this can only help her campaign in a progressive state.

Tags: K12 Inc., California Virtual Academy, Kamila Harris, Craig Barrett, Image



Add a comment

I work for K12 as a contractor. I can say I have only seen full commitment and dedication to the real and true value online education offers. In my view K12 as a whole and the folks I worked with do their best to produce a product which enhances choice, success and moves education forward.

Posted by


on 07/12/2016 at 7:38 PM

Do you think K12 Inc. is one of those companies that would hire a social media company that hires individual contractors to monitor online postings and websites to make positive remarks repudiating anything negative posted about the company?

Posted by


on 07/13/2016 at 12:38 AM

No. That sounds like something the NEA or public school hacks would do. What made you ask?

Posted by

Larry McNeil

on 07/13/2016 at 5:33 AM


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California Attorney General probe leads to $168.5 million settlement with for-profit online school operator

By Jessica Calefati,

07/08/2016 11:54:50 AM PDT

SACRAMENTO — Facing a torrent of accusations, a for-profit company that operates taxpayer-funded online charter schools throughout California has reached a $168.5 million settlement with the state over claims it manipulated attendance records and overstated its students’ success.

The deal, announced Friday by Attorney General Kamala Harris, comes almost three months after the Bay Area News Group published an investigation of K12 Inc., a publicly traded Virginia company, which raked in more than $310 million in state funding over the past 12 years operating a profitable but low-performing network of “virtual” schools for about 15,000 students.

File photo: California Virtual Academies student Lillian Lewis, 11, studies online before her gymnastics practice on Nov. 11, 2015, at her Pleasanton home. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group archives)

“Knowing that something will be done to address the schools’ problems is very reassuring,” said Gabriela Novak, who pulled her daughter Elizabeth from K12’s San Mateo County school after a year of frustrations and difficulty communicating with her teachers. “Finally, the system is working.”

Harris’ office found that K12 and the 14 California Virtual Academies used deceptive advertising to mislead families about students’ academic progress, parents’ satisfaction with the program and their graduates’ eligibility for University of California and California State University admission — issues that were exposed in this news organization’s April report.

The settlement could help spur legislation that would prevent for-profit companies like K12 from operating public schools in California.

The Attorney General’s office also found that K12 and its affiliated schools collected more state funding from the California Department of Education than they were entitled to by submitting inflated student attendance data and that the company leaned on the nonprofit schools to sign unfavorable contracts that put them in a deep financial hole.

“K12 and its schools misled parents and the State of California by claiming taxpayer dollars for questionable student attendance, misstating student success and parent satisfaction and loading nonprofit charities with debt,” Harris said in a statement. “This settlement ensures K12 and its schools are held accountable and make much-needed improvements.”

The California Teachers Association and the California Charter Schools Association both applauded Harris’ announcement and denounced the company’s practices — even though the two special-interest groups are frequently foes.

But in a news release Friday, K12 stressed that it had admitted no wrongdoing and insisted it had already planned to take up several of the 60 corrective actions required under the agreement over the next few years. It also disputed the attorney general’s description of the size of the settlement, calling it “flat wrong.”

“Despite our full cooperation throughout the process, the Office of the Attorney General grossly mischaracterized the value of the settlement just as it did with regard to the issues it investigated,” K12 Chief Executive Officer Stuart Udell said in the statement.

Under the settlement, which is subject to court approval, K12 will pay $8.5 million to settle the state’s claims.

It also agreed to “expunge” about $160 million in credits it has issued to the California Virtual Academies since 2005 that have helped the schools cover the cost of the contracts they hold with the company, whose rates routinely exceed what the schools can afford.

But Udell said that the credits should be called “subsidies,” not debts, and that the company’s commitment to expunge them shouldn’t be used by Harris to hike the size of the settlement. He also defended the credits, saying they had protected the schools against financial uncertainties.

“(The) schools have not paid that money to K12 and K12 never expected to receive it given California’s funding environment,” Udell said.

This news organization’s investigation into K12’s California schools revealed the company reaps tens of millions of dollars annually in state funding while graduating fewer than half of its high school students. It also showed that kids who spend as little as one minute during a school day logged onto K12’s software may have been counted as “present” in records used to calculate the amount of funding the schools get from the state.

The revelations show why California needs tighter rules for online charter schools, said Bruce Fuller, an education policy professor at UC Berkeley.

“Virtual charter schools’ profit-seeking too often leads to deception about their true effectiveness,” Fuller said. “The Legislature should move aggressively to prevent such harm to students and taxpayers.”

The settlement requires K12 to take a slew of corrective actions.

The company must: ensure the accuracy of its advertisements, train teachers to prevent improper attendance claims and reform the way K12 contracts with the California Virtual Academies.

K12 must also eliminate any type of incentive compensation for its enrollment staff, provide all students functional computers and give families a subsidy of at least $20 per month to cover the cost of high-speed internet service.

Emily Bertelli, a spokeswoman for the California Charter Schools Association, called the settlement “a good start,” but said the Legislature must change the law to prevent such abusive practices from happening again.

When lawmakers return to work in August after a monthlong summer recess, they’ll consider Assembly Bill 1084, authored by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, which would ban online charter schools from hiring for-profit companies for instructional services.

Bertelli’s group has offered amendments that it believes will strengthen that proposed legislation.

“We are hopeful that the Legislature doesn’t miss an opportunity at this critical juncture to do right by students,” Bertelli said in a statement.

Contact Jessica Calefati at 916-441-2101. Follow her at

Online school operator agrees to $168.5 million settlement after being accused of manipulating records

July 9, 2016

Updated 4:48 p.m.

SACRAMENTO – A for-profit company that operates online charter schools in California has reached a $168.5 million settlement with the state over claims it manipulated attendance records and overstated the academic progress of students.

The deal announced Friday by Attorney General Kamala Harris also requires Virginia-based K12 Inc. to take a slew of corrective actions, the East Bay Times reported Saturday.

The settlement comes almost three months after the Bay Area News Group published an investigation of K12 Inc., which received more than $310 million in state funding for its profitable but low-performing network of California Virtual Academies, or CAVA, which serve about 15,000 students.

Harris’ office found that K12 and its 14 “virtual” schools in California used deceptive advertising to mislead families about students’ academic progress, parents’ satisfaction with the program and their graduates’ eligibility for admission at the University of California and California State University.

The Attorney General’s office also found that K12 collected more state funding than it was entitled to by submitting inflated student attendance data.

“K12 and its schools misled parents and the State of California by claiming taxpayer dollars for questionable student attendance, misstating student success and parent satisfaction and loading nonprofit charities with debt,” Harris said in a statement.

Under the settlement, K12 will pay $8.5 million to settle the state’s claims. It also agreed to expunge about $160 million in credits it has issued to the California Virtual Academies since 2005 that have helped the schools cover the cost of the contracts they hold with the company.

K12 said in a statement it had admitted no wrongdoing and insisted it had already planned to take up several of the corrective actions required under the agreement.

“Despite our full cooperation throughout the process, the Office of the Attorney General grossly mischaracterized the value of the settlement just as it did with regard to the issues it investigated,” K12 Chief Executive Officer Stuart Udell said in the statement.

Udell said that the credits should be called subsidies, not debts, and that the company’s commitment to expunge them shouldn’t be used by Harris to hike the size of the settlement. He also defended the credits, saying they had protected the schools against financial uncertainties.

K12 Inc. Not Happy With Report on Virtual School Failings


By David Safier

on Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 11:00 AM

click to enlarge

  • Courtesy of PhotoSpin

K12 Inc. was quick to respond to the report put out by a few charter school organizations saying virtual schools should be better regulated,

which I posted about yesterday. Unfair! the press release complained. Based on old data! We’ve changed our ways!

Well, not so much. The publicly traded corporation is still using the for-profit model, which includes the dictum, grow or die, as well as the necessity of putting stockholders’ interests over the needs of its students. It has an incredible churn rate; about a third of the students leave every year. That means it needs to use every means possible to replace those students and add more. Its recruiters use the kinds of high power, coercive sales techniques which have gotten for-profit colleges in trouble, luring in students who are unsuited to online schooling where personal motivation and parental involvement are keys to success.

Online education can be a valuable addition to classroom learning, and for a small slice of the student population it can be a substitute for brick-and-mortar schooling, but it fails when it’s sold as a mass education model. K12 Inc. ends its press release by saying, “We are a company of educators dedicated to putting students first.” Massive research on the corporation gives the lie to that assertion. The sooner the stockholders jump ship and the company sinks, the better.

Tags: K12 Inc., Virtual schools, Image


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Arkansas Virtual Academy Celebrates Kindergarten and 8th Grade Graduates

— Top students from all grades received recognition for academic achievements —

06:00 ET
from Arkansas Virtual Academy

LITTLE ROCK, Ark., May 25, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —Arkansas Virtual Academy (ARVA), a tuition-free, online public school, honored its 2016 Kindergarten and 8th grade graduates at two ceremonies on Friday, May 20, at Little Rock Church. Kindergarten students and eighth graders advanced to the next grade level after completing the 2015-2016 school year at ARVA, which is an education option available to all K–12 students who reside anywhere in Arkansas.

In addition to honoring this year’s graduates of Kindergarten and 8th grade, high achieving students from all grades were recognized during the ARVA Honors Ceremonies, which also took place on May 20.

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Arkansas Virtual Academys 2016 Kindergarten Graduation

“We’re proud to celebrate the advancement and outstanding achievements of all of our students at the end of this school year,” said Scott Sides, Head of School at Arkansas Virtual Academy. “We are particularly excited to see our Kindergarteners and 8th graders graduate to the next chapter in their educational careers. ARVA students are proof that a combination of hard work, the right tools and the support of families and teachers leads to academic growth.”

ARVA combines online instruction and hands-on curriculum with the support of Arkansas-licensed teachers who are available online and by phone. ARVA is the only school in the state to offer the complete K12 Inc. curriculum, and strives to create a balanced approach in educating its students. Through a diverse catalog of math, language arts, science and history courses, ARVA students have access to a more individualized learning plan in order to chart their own course for educational success.

More information about the school, upcoming events and how to apply can be found online at

About Arkansas Virtual Academy

Arkansas Virtual Academy is a full-time online public school serving students in grades K through 12. As part of the Arkansas public school system, ARVA 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 ARVA, visit

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In-Depth Analysis of Blended and Online Learning Programs Identify Key Characteristics for Success

Evergreen Education Group details academic outcomes of nine different programs using Fuel Education™

08:30 ET
from Fuel Education LLC

HERNDON, Va., May 24, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Over the past year, digital learning policy research and advisory firm Evergreen Education Group conducted in-depth analyses of nine schools that use online curriculum and platforms from Fuel Education™ (FuelEd™) as the instructional foundation of their programs. After observing and interviewing groups of students, faculty, staff, and school leadership at each of the nine schools, Evergreen Education Group identified certain key characteristics make blended and online learning programs successful, including student relationships, online curriculum as the primary source of instruction, and a variety of instructional support.

As a result, the Evergreen Education Group, in cooperation with FuelEd, has published an executive summary and nine full case studies titled, “Outcomes of Blended and Online Learning Programs in Schools Using Fuel Education Curriculum.” The purpose of the report is to further the understanding and potential benefits of blended and online learning programs among schools demonstrating strong academic results, and to highlight the commonalities in instructional models, practices, measurements of success, and outcomes. To download the executive summary and the case studies, visit:

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Evergreen Education Group Report on Nine Successful Online and Blended Programs

Of the nine online or blended learning programs, five were whole school programs and four were credit recovery and remedial programs. While all differed in size, demographics, community types, location, and status of program development, the research team found important similarities. Each program reported improved student outcomes despite serving a broad spectrum of students–from failing and struggling students to mainstream and advanced students seeking a personalized educational experience. In addition, the programs used different measures of success, such as scores on year-end tests, graduation rates, and college attendance rates.

Teachers, administrators, and students attributed the success of their programs to several factors:

  • Better relationships with students—All schools felt establishing deep and meaningful teacher-student relationships was an essential component to success and thus made it a priority. When teachers had a better understanding of both a student’s academic capability and his or her personal and family situations, they were better able to tailor their teaching and counseling activities to fit that student’s individual needs. Students agreed and felt that their teachers genuinely cared about them and would help them succeed.
  • Online curriculum as primary source of instruction—Using the FuelEd curriculum allowed teachers to work more directly with students in both one-on-one and small group formats. Many students felt they received more personal attention from teachers in these programs than in traditional schools. Schools cited one of the benefits of the FuelEd curriculum was its comprehensive catalog of content for kindergarten through 12th grade, including core courses, electives, advanced courses, credit recovery, and remediation. Teachers from all schools reported that the online courses were appropriately rigorous and provided a highly engaging learning experience for students. Students worked on these courses at their own pace, and most reported this flexibility as one of the major reasons for their success.
  • In-person and virtual instructional support—Most students interacted with their teachers frequently each day, whether the interaction was in-person or virtual.  Many students reported that they received more personal attention from their teachers in these programs than in a traditional school setting.

In the report, the Evergreen Education Group noted, “Overall, the research team was struck by the upbeat, positive attitudes of students, teachers, and staff, and by the different but impressive results within each program. The most noted keys to success were the strong relationships between individual teachers and individual students supported by the comprehensive and flexible online curriculum provided by FuelEd.”

“These nine programs are excellent examples of how schools are successfully using blended and online learning to meet the unique needs of their students and to improve academic outcomes,” said Gregg Levin, General Manager of Fuel Education. “We are pleased to team with Evergreen Education Group to document these different implementation approaches and best practices to share with other schools and districts looking for innovative ways to better engage students, empower their teachers, and boost achievement.”

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 blended and online 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 the one of the industry’s largest catalogs of 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 and Twitter.

©2016 Fuel Education LLC. All rights reserved. Fuel Education and FuelEd are trademarks of Fuel Education LLC or its affiliates. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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SOURCE Fuel Education LLC

Fourth-grader finds success with online school

Nine-year-old Gabe Neis had a tumultuous third-grade year at Bridgewater Elementary School.

With attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia, he had trouble in the noisy atmosphere of a classroom full of nearly 30 other children.

He was bullied and didn’t get along with the teacher. Confidence, ability and progress withered.

“He hated school; it was the last place he wanted to be,” said Heidi Neis, his mother. “There was a sense of hopelessness.”

Since wrapping up the third grade, however, Gabe has made strides. Next year he’ll join his school’s student council as fifth-grade class representative.

During his acceptance speech, Gabe said he thought he was stupid, but now knows he’s smart. That he thought he couldn’t do anything, but now he knows he can be successful.

What happened this year, then?

Gabe joined Bonneville Joint School District 93’s online school.

“It’s fun. I get to stay at home — it’s like having a sick day but you’re still at school every day,” Gabe said.

Serving about 100 students, the K-8 Bonneville Online School was created for children who can’t find success in traditional schools.

This month, Fuel Education, an online education provider, presented Gabe and the school with its 2016 Transformation Award. The reward is reserved for schools and students that demonstrate excellent use of Fuel’s framework.

“We really pride ourselves on innovative learning for each individual,” said Shelley Andrus, the online school’s lead teacher. “For some students with different learning, behavioral or health needs, that flexibility is super important to them.”

Students enrolled are pulled from brick-and-mortar schools and taught at home by a “learning coach,” usually a child’s mother. The learning coach gets a crash course in teaching from district personnel.

Still enrolled in public school, the students take state-mandated standardized tests when necessary. The online school provides a curriculum and constant text, phone, email or video interaction with district teachers.

“I’ve improved with learning. The fall was tough but I’m starting to get facts easier,” Gabe said. “But it isn’t just me, it’s with the support of my teachers and mom.”

For many students, the online school allows a level of involvement that’s logistically difficult to swing in a traditional classroom.

“When you have close to 30 students, some that may have disabilities fall to the wayside. They don’t get the attention and accommodations they may need,” Neis said.

During warmer months, Gabe and his mother take advantage of the sunny weather and run through lessons outside. Sometimes at the table on their porch, other times on the trampoline in their backyard.

The one-on-one nature of a home-based education allows Neis to know whether Gabe needs to take a five-minute break on the trampoline or a spin on his bicycle to burn some energy. The flexibility of the schedule, meanwhile, allows those breaks to happen when they need to.

Figuring those habits out, however, was a difficult learning process for Gabe and his mother, who hadn’t had any experience teaching.

“There was a lot of tears and frustration,” Neis said. “Feeling like Shelley had to talk me down off a ledge or something, I was so overwhelmed in how I was going to do this.”

Throughout the process, Neis learned more about her child’s disabilities and how to set up him up for success. Reading instructions aloud, for example, or dialing back math work to a lower grade level.

“I didn’t have a clue how much his dyslexia impacted him,” Neis said. “You don’t just jump into a primary teacher role without figuring it out. I’ve had to learn as much as he has.”

Neis can text the district’s online school teachers in times of struggle and swap teaching tips with other parents during monthly learning coach meetings.

Students also have access to optional weekly Thursday gatherings with online school teachers and other kids in the program. They participate in games and activities. Sometimes guests come to present.

Though the gatherings offer a good chance at socialization, that isn’t necessarily their main purpose — many of the online school’s students still participate in faith communities, Boy Scouts, et cetera.

Instead, the weekly meetings show the children that others also have problems with traditional education.

Andrus said students get to see they aren’t the only ones who struggle to learn in crowded classrooms, while parents also see other families are going through the same situation.

Neis only began to feel comfortable teaching about a month into the school year.

Gabe, meanwhile, has worked during weekends along with winter and spring breaks to catch up on the courses he toiled with at the year’s beginning.

He may not be ready to rejoin a traditional school anytime soon. Still, the quiet porch outside of Gabe’s homehelps himsucceed in a way the schoolhouse couldn’t.

“He’s gained confidence in his own ability to work again; he’s really driving his own education,” Neis said. “I’m excited to see where he goes. And if he’s an online learner through high school that’s fine with me.”

Reporter Kevin Trevellyan can be reached at 542-6762.