California Virtual Academies defend online charter schools as model of school choice

By Jessica Calefati, jcalefati@bayareanewsgroup.com

Posted:
 
04/19/2016 05:26:24 AM PDT

In a vigorous defense, officials behind the California Virtual Academies branded this news organization’s investigation into their online charter schools “wrong and insulting” and an attack against a model of school choice.

But critics of K12 Inc., the Wall Street-traded company that runs the profitable but low-performing academies, called for greater oversight of its practices.

The newspaper’s two-day series examined how K12 Inc., reaps tens of millions of dollars in state funding while graduating fewer than half of the students enrolled in its high schools.

Elizabeth Novak-Galloway, 12, who used to be an A student, received C s because she was missing work she never knew had been assigned, her mother said. (Dai Sugano, Bay Area News Group)
(
Dai Sugano
)

In a letter sent to teachers Monday afternoon, the schools’ academic administrator, April Warren, called the newspaper’s investigative series “a gross mischaracterization of all of the work that you all do on a regular basis.” But despite their broad condemnations, neither Warren nor other school officials alleged any specific factual inaccuracies in the series.

The investigation, published Sunday and Monday, also reported that teachers have been asked to inflate attendance and enrollment records used to determine taxpayer funding.

K12 says the schools operate independently and are locally controlled. But the newspaper’s review of the academies’ contracts, tax records and other financial information suggest the Virginia-based company calls the shots, operating the schools to make money by taking advantage of laws governing charters and nonprofit organizations. K12’s heavily marketed model in California has helped the company collect more than $310 million in state funding over the past 12 years.

State Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, said the performance of any publicly financed school should be a matter of concern for taxpayers — and lawmakers.

“Charter schools were created to give parents and students an alternative to how public schools were delivering instruction,” Beall said Monday. “But it has never been the state’s intent to permit online for-profit charter schools to fail students or gouge taxpayers. Students must not be viewed as cash cows.”

However, the company, a top administrator for the online school network and the board of directors for one of the academies serving Bay Area students all released similarly worded statements Monday, blasting the newspaper’s investigation.

Together, members of the California Virtual Academy at San Mateo’s board of directors called allegations that they have “any other interest except for our children” and their families both “wrong and insulting.”

The statement said the network of online schools has for years endured similar attacks on its track record from charter opponents and the California Teachers Association, which is attempting to unionize employees at the schools.

“Parents want choice in education,” the statement said. “Students deserve options because one size does not fit all. We love our school.”

The board insisted in its statement that each of the K12-partner schools are “governed independently by their nonprofit school boards made up of California residents including parents, educators, and local community leaders.”

The newspaper’s investigation revealed that two of the four board members at the San Mateo County school — board president Don Burbulys and member Stephen Warren — are related to top academy administrators who are hand-picked by K12.

Burbulys, who is married to Dean of Students Laura Terrazas, lives in Soquel in Santa Cruz County, and Warren, who is the brother-in-law of April Warren, lives in Riverside County.

Defending her brother-in-law’s oversight of her work, April Warren wrote in her letter to teachers that “relatives are permitted to serve on a California nonprofit board” and that “several school districts have people who sit on their boards that are either parents, employees or are related to employees of the district that they serve.”

The California Charter Schools Association and California Teachers Association on Monday said the Legislature should take a hard look at whether for-profit companies like K12 should be operating schools in California and whether the state can do more to ensure charter schools are overseen properly.

“When taxpayer money is used to fund education, those dollars should go to help kids,” said California Teachers Association President Eric Heins. “In this case, we have no idea how the company is spending our tax dollars and it’s not right. This is pretty basic stuff.”

Online charter schools only work with a fraction of the kids enrolled in California’s roughly 1,200 charters, but that doesn’t mean they should be held to a lower standard of accountability, said Emily Bertelli, a spokeswoman for the California Charter Schools Association, which publicly called for the closure of a K12-run school in 2011 only to see the school reopened with a new name under the same authorizer.

Former Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman said in an interview Monday that none of the newspaper’s findings surprised him. He said he’d seen many of the same issues unfold in his state, where he tried, and failed to shut down K12’s Tennessee Virtual Academy because of poor performance.

“This company’s efforts to grow bear no relationship whatsoever to the quality of their results in California and across the country,” Huffman said.

“You would hope that an online virtual school — especially one run by a for-profit company — would only have the opportunity to grow with really high-quality results,” Huffman said. “K12 isn’t coming close to meeting a high bar in terms of quality.”

One Redwood City parent who contacted this newspaper, saying the investigative series “hit close to home,” said his son, who is now a sophomore in college, took K12’s advanced courses, earned A’s and B’s and finished at the top of his class when he was a student at one of the company-run California schools. But when his son applied to a local community college, he was stunned to learn he had to take remedial math and English courses because he was so far behind.

Other parents, however, contacted the newspaper to defend the schools, saying the online learning model was vital to their sons’ and daughters’ academic success.

Maureen Behlen said her son thrived in K12’s school because she “put everything into it,” spending several hours a day teaching him and guiding him through his coursework. She said an online school isn’t the right fit for families who can’t devote as much time to the program as she did.

“Would you send a bunch of kids into a classroom with no teachers? Of course not,” said Behlen, who lives in the foothills in East San Jose. “There has to be an adult responsible for overseeing what they’re learning, and if there isn’t, you’re setting them up to fail.”

Contact Jessica Calefati at 916-441-2101. Follow her at Twitter.com/Calefati.

California Virtual Academies defend online charter schools as model of school choice

By Jessica Calefati, jcalefati@bayareanewsgroup.com

Posted:
 
04/19/2016 05:26:24 AM PDT

In a vigorous defense, officials behind the California Virtual Academies branded this news organization’s investigation into their online charter schools “wrong and insulting” and an attack against a model of school choice.

But critics of K12 Inc., the Wall Street-traded company that runs the profitable but low-performing academies, called for greater oversight of its practices.

The newspaper’s two-day series examined how K12 Inc., reaps tens of millions of dollars in state funding while graduating fewer than half of the students enrolled in its high schools.

Elizabeth Novak-Galloway, 12, who used to be an A student, received C s because she was missing work she never knew had been assigned, her mother said.
Elizabeth Novak-Galloway, 12, who used to be an A student, received C s because she was missing work she never knew had been assigned, her mother said. (Dai Sugano, Bay Area News Group)
(
Dai Sugano
)

In a letter sent to teachers Monday afternoon, the schools’ academic administrator, April Warren, called the newspaper’s investigative series “a gross mischaracterization of all of the work that you all do on a regular basis.” But despite their broad condemnations, neither Warren nor other school officials alleged any specific factual inaccuracies in the series.

The investigation, published Sunday and Monday, also reported that teachers have been asked to inflate attendance and enrollment records used to determine taxpayer funding.

K12 says the schools operate independently and are locally controlled. But the newspaper’s review of the academies’ contracts, tax records and other financial information suggest the Virginia-based company calls the shots, operating the schools to make money by taking advantage of laws governing charters and nonprofit organizations. K12’s heavily marketed model in California has helped the company collect more than $310 million in state funding over the past 12 years.

State Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, said the performance of any publicly financed school should be a matter of concern for taxpayers — and lawmakers.

“Charter schools were created to give parents and students an alternative to how public schools were delivering instruction,” Beall said Monday. “But it has never been the state’s intent to permit online for-profit charter schools to fail students or gouge taxpayers. Students must not be viewed as cash cows.”

However, the company, a top administrator for the online school network and the board of directors for one of the academies serving Bay Area students all released similarly worded statements Monday, blasting the newspaper’s investigation.

Together, members of the California Virtual Academy at San Mateo’s board of directors called allegations that they have “any other interest except for our children” and their families both “wrong and insulting.”

The statement said the network of online schools has for years endured similar attacks on its track record from charter opponents and the California Teachers Association, which is attempting to unionize employees at the schools.

“Parents want choice in education,” the statement said. “Students deserve options because one size does not fit all. We love our school.”

The board insisted in its statement that each of the K12-partner schools are “governed independently by their nonprofit school boards made up of California residents including parents, educators, and local community leaders.”

The newspaper’s investigation revealed that two of the four board members at the San Mateo County school — board president Don Burbulys and member Stephen Warren — are related to top academy administrators who are hand-picked by K12.

Burbulys, who is married to Dean of Students Laura Terrazas, lives in Soquel in Santa Cruz County, and Warren, who is the brother-in-law of April Warren, lives in Riverside County.

Defending her brother-in-law’s oversight of her work, April Warren wrote in her letter to teachers that “relatives are permitted to serve on a California nonprofit board” and that “several school districts have people who sit on their boards that are either parents, employees or are related to employees of the district that they serve.”

The California Charter Schools Association and California Teachers Association on Monday said the Legislature should take a hard look at whether for-profit companies like K12 should be operating schools in California and whether the state can do more to ensure charter schools are overseen properly.

“When taxpayer money is used to fund education, those dollars should go to help kids,” said California Teachers Association President Eric Heins. “In this case, we have no idea how the company is spending our tax dollars and it’s not right. This is pretty basic stuff.”

Online charter schools only work with a fraction of the kids enrolled in California’s roughly 1,200 charters, but that doesn’t mean they should be held to a lower standard of accountability, said Emily Bertelli, a spokeswoman for the California Charter Schools Association, which publicly called for the closure of a K12-run school in 2011 only to see the school reopened with a new name under the same authorizer.

Former Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman said in an interview Monday that none of the newspaper’s findings surprised him. He said he’d seen many of the same issues unfold in his state, where he tried, and failed to shut down K12’s Tennessee Virtual Academy because of poor performance.

“This company’s efforts to grow bear no relationship whatsoever to the quality of their results in California and across the country,” Huffman said.

“You would hope that an online virtual school — especially one run by a for-profit company — would only have the opportunity to grow with really high-quality results,” Huffman said. “K12 isn’t coming close to meeting a high bar in terms of quality.”

One Redwood City parent who contacted this newspaper, saying the investigative series “hit close to home,” said his son, who is now a sophomore in college, took K12’s advanced courses, earned A’s and B’s and finished at the top of his class when he was a student at one of the company-run California schools. But when his son applied to a local community college, he was stunned to learn he had to take remedial math and English courses because he was so far behind.

Other parents, however, contacted the newspaper to defend the schools, saying the online learning model was vital to their sons’ and daughters’ academic success.

Maureen Behlen said her son thrived in K12’s school because she “put everything into it,” spending several hours a day teaching him and guiding him through his coursework. She said an online school isn’t the right fit for families who can’t devote as much time to the program as she did.

“Would you send a bunch of kids into a classroom with no teachers? Of course not,” said Behlen, who lives in the foothills in East San Jose. “There has to be an adult responsible for overseeing what they’re learning, and if there isn’t, you’re setting them up to fail.”

Contact Jessica Calefati at 916-441-2101. Follow her at Twitter.com/Calefati.

Education leaders question why virtual school remains open

Posted 9:52 p.m. yesterdayUpdated 9:54 p.m. yesterday

By SHEILA BURKE, Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The legislature’s failure to shut down an academically troubled virtual school run by a for-profit corporation has left some education leaders wondering whether Tennessee lawmakers really want to fix schools or have sold out children to powerful special interests.

A move that would close the Tennessee Virtual Academy, and ban others like it, failed this week in the legislature. The effort came on the heels of withering criticism of the school by former state Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman — a longtime proponent of school choice— who called TNVA Tennessee’s worst school. Huffman, in a recent online essay, said his inability to close the school was one of his biggest failures.

The school has been a disaster since it opened in 2011. Students have performed so poorly on standardized tests that even former supporters have publicly condemned it.

Critics of the school say lawmakers are bowing to pressure from K12 Inc., the Herndon, Virginia-based company that operates TNVA. K12 is one of the largest providers of online school curricula in the country.

Records show that K12 has spent between $285,000 and $575,000 on lobbying since 2010. The company donated more than $75,000 in direct campaign contributions since 2011.

Huffman, in his essay, said K12’s lobbyists went into overdrive after the former education commissioner sounded the alarm when the school’s first-year test scores came in. TNVA ranked dead last in terms of academic gains out of more than 1,600 schools across the state. Huffman said he tried to meet with academic specialists, but what he got instead was a meeting with a lobbyist who “refused to acknowledge that the school had struggled.”

An official with K12 disputes Huffman’s characterization. Jeff Kwitowski, a spokesman for K12, said that Huffman did meet with school officials and had plenty of opportunity to meet personally with parents, teachers and students but never did.

The school’s survival reflects a larger problem at the Legislature, according to Will Pinkston, a top aide to former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen and a member of the Nashville school board.

“The majorities in both the House and the Senate have sold out public education because of the pressure of lobbyists and under the lure of massive amounts of campaign contributions,” Pinkston said.

One prominent lawmaker who has supported the school said lobbyists have nothing to do with it. Rep. Harry Brooks, R-Knoxville, said he believes in all virtual schools — not just TNVA — because they give students, especially those in rural districts, opportunities they wouldn’t normally have, such as taking Advanced Placement classes. Brooks said he sponsored legislation that will force TNVA to close if it doesn’t perform well over time, so it is being held to a standard.

But Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, said that even if the school does close, there is a risk that taxpayers could be on the hook if a similar school opens. Stewart said he could not convince lawmakers to support his efforts this year to ban all virtual schools operated by for-profit companies.

At TNVA, kids stay at home and learn on their computers. Technically, they are considered public school students enrolled in a school in rural Union County.

It’s not clear how much money taxpayers have spent on the school. Union County officials didn’t have a figure available; however, Sen. Delores Gresham said last year that it had already cost $43 million.

The school, which any Tennessee child from kindergarten to eighth grade can attend, has been ranked at the bottom of schools across the state in academic gains every year of its existence. About 600 students are enrolled this school year, down from 3,000 in 2012-13.

“We made some changes and feel like maybe some of those changes will help us,” Union County school director James Carter said of TNVA.

Supporters of the school have said it enrolls a high number of poor and disabled children.

But state figures show that many other public schools across the state have even higher numbers of kids who are economically disadvantaged or have special needs.

Kwitowski, the spokesman for K12, said the school is not for everybody. But for some students, he says, TNVA is the only alternative to a traditional public school.

An Ed Commissioner’s Confession: How I Tried (and Failed) to Close the Worst School in Tennessee

Kevin Huffman served as Tennessee’s education commissioner from 2011-2015, and in this essay outlines problems he experienced while overseeing the Tennessee Virtual Academy, operated by K12 Inc. To read K12 Inc.’s full response to this essay, please click here.

n April 2011, a short while after I became Tennessee’s education commissioner, the state legislature passed a bill allowing “virtual schools” to open in Tennessee. The concept was forward-looking: Allow public school districts, at their discretion, to open and run online schools.

These e-schools could, over time, take advantage of technological advances in instruction, and they could serve children who couldn’t be served properly by traditional brick-and- mortar schools.

The bill passed amid a flurry of end-of-session horse trading. Some legislators expressed concerns about virtual education generally, and others were worried that the bill included for-profit operators, but as often happens at session’s end, it chugged along largely under the radar. I was new and not fully looped in, but my educational philosophy has always been platform-agnostic; I was less concerned about the kind of school, more concerned about whether the school was good.

From these modest beginnings and with the help of an unscrupulous operator, an inept school district, and the generally screwed-up politics of education, the worst-performing school in Tennessee opened and remains open to this day.

It remains one of the biggest failures that happened on my watch.

Year one: Abject Failure

The legislation allowed any school district to establish a virtual school, and most legislators, in good faith, envisioned local districts establishing niche programs for kids who were being bullied or seriously ill or had other special needs. A few districts did just that, enrolling a couple dozen kids here or there and experimenting with online courses.

It was quickly evident, however, that the bill’s main beneficiary was K12, Inc., a for-profit company running online schools and programs in multiple states across the country.

While K12 was not itself eligible to open a school, it could get in the door by finding a school district willing to host and “open” the school. Geography was irrelevant; since the school was virtual, it could enroll kids anywhere in Tennessee.

Furthermore, because Tennessee — like most states — weighs its school funding formula to give more money to lower-wealth areas, a virtual school could game the funding system by opening shop in a district that receives a larger portion of state funding. Luckily for K12, the perfect host awaited.

Union County is a small rural county in East Tennessee, 40 minutes and a different world up the road from Knoxville. There is almost no infrastructure in Union County — just a series of small, dying ventures off the highway. The county schools are oddly isolated from the state mainstream. When I visited, I found fundamental misunderstandings about state rules and practices that didn’t exist in other districts.

As sometimes happens in small and isolated communities, the school board and district administration were an absolute disaster. In 2011, the district was in dire financial straits, having struggled to manage funds and oversee its superintendent.  In the ensuing two years, the district would pinball between two superintendents with threats of litigation and a divided administration driving hiring and firing. It was difficult to remember who was in charge without looking it up. Looking it up was difficult because the website wasn’t updated.

For a company like K12 Inc., Union County, Tennessee was a godsend. Mismanaged, nearly bankrupt, and yet pulling in per-pupil dollars well above the state-funded average, it was the perfect host for a statewide virtual school. K12 seized the opportunity, offering Union County a small cut of the profits from enrolling other districts’ students, and the school quickly opened its virtual doors in August 2011.

The Tennessee Virtual Academy, TNVA as it is known, hired a principal who sat in Union County and managed the school. The school hired licensed teachers who lived all over Tennessee, helping students via phone and email. The curriculum came out of corporate headquarters, cribbed from the virtual schools the company ran in other states.

Unsurprisingly, TNVA was beset by operational challenges from the outset. The school lacked the systems to quickly and effectively enroll students, leaving some kids dangling while their parents complained to the state. It underestimated the challenges of identifying students needing special education services. TNVA struggled with the basic paperwork required of all schools in the public school system. (Read K12 Inc.’s response to this article, and its account of the state’s efforts to close the Tennessee Virtual Academy, right here)

While these struggles raised some eyebrows, they also could be chalked up to growing pains. After all, the school had opened in a very short window, was working in a new state and new school district, and was attempting to serve kids all over the state.

As commissioner, TNVA was most visible to me through the complaints of superintendents in other school districts. K12 Inc. was running radio ads in major media markets encouraging kids to sign up for the school, and numbers were booming. Superintendents around the state claimed that students were dropping out of their districts, enrolling in the virtual school, and receiving lousy services.

Some told tales of students leaving district schools for TNVA, only to re-enroll later, discouraged and even farther behind academically. Union County, for its part, complained that the other districts were trying to block students from enrolling by slow-walking the paperwork, or out-and-out telling parents they weren’t allowed to leave their home districts. Everywhere you looked, fingers were pointed.

I was skeptical of the other districts’ complaints. From my vantage point, superintendents often complained when parents looked for better schooling options because the district lost the money that traveled with the students. I had become, to my detriment, overly cynical about these complaints. I wanted to wait and see how the school year played out.

The year came and went, marked for me with controversy around teacher evaluations, our federal No Child Left Behind waiver, charter school expansion, and the other marquee issues of education reform. Every day brought another bruising political battle, and I was burning through my political capital at an alarming rate. As testing results rolled in, I was anxious for some good news.

Tennessee’s testing results weren’t just good, they were great. Across the state, students made gains in every subject area and at every grade level. Teachers, principals and superintendents were breathing a sigh of relief. We celebrated the districts and schools with the best results, and started to plan for the next year.

But there was a major hiccup in Union County. The school district laid an egg and was designated “in need of improvement” under our federal waiver. Worse yet, the Tennessee Virtual Academy had received the lowest possible growth score — a 1 on a 1-to-5 scale for our value-added system, which measures teachers and schools not by students’ final scores but by how much they have grown in a year.

As I looked deeper, I became increasingly alarmed. Since there was no legislative limitation on growth, the school’s enrollment had surged to around 2,000 kids. It was not only a low-performing school, it was one of the biggest in the state and it was growing rapidly.

The TNVA had single-handedly doubled the size of the Union County school district, and this single school was on track to become larger than many districts in the state.

Tennessee historically has struggled in educational outcomes, but it was and is a national leader in data. Value-added scoring, seen by many as a fairer way to gauge academic progress because it takes into account where the student started, was invented in Tennessee and has been refined over two decades here. The state was one of the first to produce a sophisticated online public report card providing reams of data about schools to parents and the public.

As the TNVA data became more granular, the extent of the academic disaster came into stark relief. The school’s value-added score was dead last – out of more than 1,600 schools with scores –  in the state.

K12 Inc. and Union County’s Tennessee Virtual Academy was, quite literally, the worst school in Tennessee.

Year two: Clipping TNVA’s Wings

Inside the state education department, we were alarmed. We had two main strategies. First, we would try to get TNVA and K12 to improve its outcomes. We had no real leverage since it was technically a district-run school, but we could at the very least call them to the carpet, push them for answers and solutions, and offer supports. After all, Union County was woefully unequipped to lead the charge.

Second, we needed legislation to curb the school’s growth and set up an end-game if the school continued to fail. The virtual school bill needed a backstop.

Our first meeting about the school’s performance was a disaster. K12 brought its lobbyist rather than academic specialists. The lobbyist refused to acknowledge that the school had struggled. Instead, he pointed to the school’s self-administered internal tests, and claimed that the students were doing fine.

He disputed the state test results, and didn’t understand value-added scores. We showed him the official state data, and he just claimed it wasn’t valid. The lobbyist brought his own (less reputable) data and refused to concede the obvious point that TNVA was failing.

The meeting depressed me; if the school would not concede that it was failing, there was no hope that it would make changes in order to get better. Amazingly, after finishing dead last in Tennessee in growth, K12 seemed intent on staying the course.

I had no interest in pulling my punches, and when reporters reached out asking about the Tennessee Virtual Academy, I told them the results were terrible and unacceptable.  This seemed as plain as day. Nonetheless, the statements got me in hot water.

K12’s high-priced Tennessee lobbyists went into overdrive, complaining bitterly about me to the governor’s staff and to legislative leaders. A couple of Democratic legislative candidates used the school’s results in campaign literature. The lobbyists then used the campaign ads to take shots at me to Republican leaders, calling me a loose cannon who was undercutting Republicans.

Inside the department, we focused on part two of our strategy — legislative action. We proposed language that would bar virtual schools from growing if their results were bad. More importantly, we suggested that any school that scored at the lowest level for two consecutive years could be closed down by the state.

Our logic was simple: If K12 Inc. was in denial about its results, this bill would force it to figure out how to improve results or face closure. At the time, my belief was that K12 Inc., with all of its financial resources and its national footprint and data, could surely improve its school if it was so inclined. We could give them two years to get it together.

We introduced the bill and K12 Inc. was irate. The company ramped up its lobbying efforts, working all angles.  At the national level, K12 sponsored Republican Governors Association events, which meant they gave money, and their CEO Ron Packard and lobbyists wandered freely at conferences. Gov. Bill Haslam and his staff found themselves cornered by K12 Inc. at various events. K12’s sponsorships similarly gave them access to me at education conferences.

In Nashville, they increased their lobbying muscle. I was called to a meeting with several executives from national headquarters and a D.C.-based lobbyist — a well-known man whose name opens doors. (K12 said it could not respond or verify Kevin Huffman’s account of this meeting without knowing the lobbyist’s name; Huffman declined to identify him) My blood pressure started to rise as the lobbyist patiently explained that I was confused about the data and results. Speaking to me as if I were a sweet but confused child, he said he wanted me to hear the true story. When K12’s executives spoke, they used the same talking points as their other lobbyists.

I felt myself start to lose my temper.

Why, I asked, am I constantly talking with K12’s lobbyists instead of the people who might actually try to make the school better? Is anyone doing anything to make the school better? Have any of you actually been to Union County to meet with the incompetent local leadership that you are partnering with? And don’t you think it’s problematic that you have this many problems with me — one of the most pro-market, pro-choice state commissioners in the country?

It was one of only two or three meetings during my tenure in which I decidedly lost my cool. One staffer came down the hall to peek in at the end of the meeting to see why I was so agitated.

The bill to limit the growth of virtual schools was a battle. For starters, TNVA did indeed have a number of high-need students with tough circumstances, and a virtual school was a tremendous resource for these folks. K12 highlighted the stories of children with chronic illness or students who had been bullied at their home schools. These stories were real and the families’ angst and needs were real. The traditional system was failing them and virtual education had thrown them a lifeline.

Unfortunately, though, this was a very small percentage of TNVA’s students; they were the sympathetic face of an otherwise failing venture.

After a couple of months of negotiations, the legislation passed, with minor language adjustments. None of us would have guessed it at the time, but these language changes would ultimately undercut our ability to close the school.

Instead of a two-year, forward-looking time frame for measuring virtual schools, the legislation gave virtual schools three years prior to facing closure. However, the three years were inclusive of the past year’s results. No problem, we figured— that’s essentially the same thing as we proposed.

It was now May of 2013, and the school’s second year came to a close. The school failed again. It was again, not only a Level 1, but near the bottom of the state rankings.

Strike three?

The school would now enter a death-watch year in 2013-14. If it scored another Level 1 on growth, we would have the opportunity to close it.

K12’s first strategic maneuver was to attempt a work-around. The company was working on a deal with another low-wealth, rural Tennessee county — Campbell County. Since the location of a virtual school is irrelevant, if K12 Inc. simply opened up shop in a different school district, it could theoretically transfer all of the kids, start the “failure clock” again, and proceed as if nothing had happened.

The Campbell County mayor and others lobbied hard — they had been promised both money for the school, and also a free curriculum for adult education that the mayor was anxious to tout to the citizenry.

It was a clever effort and a genuine legal loophole. The mayor and leaders in Campbell County saw K12 as a financial resource, while we saw it as a means of evading accountability. The school never opened; the district had timing and quality issues with the paperwork, and K12 was forced to look to different strategies.

In the process, though, I added to my list of enemies. The folks in Campbell County were livid, and they blamed me for costing them money.

We told K12’s lobbyists that I only wanted to talk about the school’s performance and hear how it would get better. I was sick of talking about politics. And so, Packard, the CEO of K12 Inc., came to visit me in Nashville without lobbyists — a peace offering of sorts designed to show that K12 was serious about taking on academic improvements. He asked for advice. He took notes. It was a very positive meeting. I maintained hope.

Ultimately, the meeting was irrelevant. Packard resigned his leadership in January 2014. The TNVA proceeded on the same course.

TNVA failed again in 2013-14. It was a Level 1 for the third year in a row. It was eligible for closure.

Union County pushed hard for the school to have one more year. Our state data team ran an analysis on the performance of new students compared to returning students at TNVA, and found a ray of hope. The school’s new enrollees were performing abysmally — they were a low Level 1. Returning students — in their second or third year at the school — performed about average, a Level 3. There was an argument that the school could serve kids adequately if the kids had time to adjust.

The problem, though, was that TNVA hemorrhaged kids, with the highest turnover any of us had ever seen at a school. So, while one could argue that kids just needed time to adjust, the school bled out so many failed students each year that it obviated the good.

We huddled internally. Union County and K12 had ginned up an intense parent lobbying campaign and the governor’s office and department of education were getting letters and emails begging to keep the school open.

In the department, I consistently preached a mantra of being data-driven, and doing what the data told us. I overthought this and I got too cute.

I thought we had a potential compromise solution: We would let the school stay open for another year as long as it did not enroll any new students. This way, the kids who were likely to do OK — the returning students — would stay enrolled and would not need to hunt for a new school. But unless and until the school improved, it would not enroll new students. Jimmy Carter, Union County’s superintendent, readily agreed. This was a fair idea.

If you are still reading this article, you likely can guess that this did not happen. We discovered that Union County had already enrolled hundreds of new students, despite knowing the school was subject to closure. When we asked them to un-enroll these students, they refused, holding a school board vote and posturing that, damn the torpedoes, they were going to serve these kids (almost none of whom were actually Union County residents).

The state has limited and clearly delineated powers, and un-enrolling kids from district schools is not on the list. We had only the blunt instrument of closing the school — we had no ability to control enrollment. By the time we discovered that the district had enrolled hundreds of new kids, the school year was about to begin. If we closed the school, we would have to throw more than a thousand families into a panicked search for options.

And so we blinked.

Closing the school, for real. Right?

We sent Union County a letter announcing that the Tennessee Virtual Academy would stay open for one more year, but it would be closed at the end of the 2014-15 school year. We were giving all of the families a one-year notice so they could make other plans.

We portrayed this as decisive action, even though there would be a one-year lag time. Yes, K12 would have one more legislative session to try to strong-arm legislators to keep the school open, but we were confident nobody would fight for a school that habitually failed. My guts churned, though. We could try to spin it, but the reality was: I had been played.

As the new school year began, supporters of the TNVA were working hard behind the scenes to demonize me on a more personal level. An anonymous right wing blog mysteriously switched positions and began to champion the virtual school cause. Union County’s state senator looked for every opportunity to slam me publicly.

Supporters also threw around a new marketing claim: TNVA was the “most improved” low-performing school in the state. Around 100 schools in Tennessee had scored at a Level 1 in growth for three years in a row. Since TNVA had been (by far) the lowest-performing of these schools at the outset, it had improved more than the others. Voila — the most improved school!

Parents at the school filed a lawsuit claiming that the state lacked the power to close the school. I laughed when our head of policy told me. After all, we had passed a bill specifically to give me this power. This case was a no-brainer.

As fate would have it, my own tenure came to a close before TNVA’s. After the governor was re-elected in November 2014, I announced my own resignation, effective January 2015. It was time for me — I had taken too many bullets and was too full of holes to keep pushing aggressive reforms. Our student achievement results were going up, but it was time for me, in Tennessee education parlance, to “go to the house.”

My wife had a baby in March, I was working half-time, and my days were filled with long runs, modest work, and lots of family time.

On an otherwise unremarkable day of quasi-vacation, I got an email with a link to an article claiming that I had lied to the legislature about virtual schools in 2013. The article was on a blog written by a TNVA-paid consultant. (K12 denies that it in any way funded the blogger) I clicked through to a YouTube video that showed me clearly testifying in 2013 that the performance rules for closing a virtual school would not be applied retroactively. In other words, under this interpretation, the 2011-12 school year could not count against the virtual school. This would mean that the school was not yet subject to closure.

I called the department to check in. I have my flaws, but lying to the legislature isn’t one of them. Furthermore, we were incredibly precise about this particular bill and I found it hard to believe that I would have misspoken.

Nothing to worry about, I was told. The video clip is completely misleading and out of context. The video was from my testimony on the original bill language — not the amended language that actually passed. When I testified, the language was indeed about prospective test scores. The language that passed, more than a month later, was different. The video is a joke, I was told — a desperate attempt to confuse clear legal language.

This gave me a small amount of comfort. We would win in court. I obviously wasn’t pleased that TNVA associates were calling me a liar. But, at least TNVA would soon stop harming Tennessee kids.

On Friday, June 12, Judge Ellen Hobbs Lyle ruled in favor of the school. She cited confusion saying it wasn’t clear what the statute actually allowed. She cited the out-of-context video of my testimony as contributing to the confusion. The school could stay open another year. The state could not intervene and close it down until at least summer 2016.

The department’s legal staff broke the news to me. “We’ll appeal, right?” I asked plaintively. Every court loser asks this when given bad news. No, they said, telling me what I already knew. An appeal wouldn’t be heard until after the school year opened. Nobody wants to close a school in the middle of the year — it just isn’t fair to parents. The school would stay open for 2015-16.

Still Open For Business

This past summer, the state released the school results from the 2014-15 school year. The Tennessee Virtual Academy earned a Level 1 in growth for the fourth year in a row. It clocked in at #1312 out of 1368 elementary and middle schools in the state. It is no longer the most improved lousy school in Tennessee. It is just plain lousy. It is, over a four-year time, arguably the worst school in Tennessee.

K12 Inc. lives on in Tennessee. The Tennessee Virtual Academy opened its online doors again in August. State officials tell me that they aren’t thinking about other legal steps. After all, if and when the school fails again this year, they will close it down.

I will believe it when I see it.

 

he K12 saga raises a lot of difficult questions for me. Is it possible for a for-profit company to run schools? Our very best charters all over the country are non-profits, and I see little evidence of for-profits succeeding in the school management business. I may be platform-agnostic, but the data is telling a compelling story on this one.

How do we encourage innovation while still holding the bar on quality? The virtual school concept almost certainly has a place in the future of American education. But how long should an “innovative” school be allowed to fail?

What is the responsibility of the state as a regulatory enterprise, even in a choice environment? None of the parents signing up for TNVA were forced into the school — it is a school of choice.

And yet, the “marketplace” fails when we are not able to ensure that parents know that the school they are choosing has a running track record of failure. Clearly, there is a critical regulatory role, and we cannot simply assume that an unfettered choice environment will automatically lead to good outcomes.

In theory, K12, Inc’s stock should be hammered by its terrible performance in Tennessee, but it’s actually up in 2015. And why wouldn’t it be? The corporate shareholders aren’t looking for student results — they are looking for K12 to expand and grow and add more students.

Nobody asks me for stock advice, but I say: Buy! Buy K12 Inc.! It is the rarest of breeds — a company utterly impervious to failure. It fails again and again, and yet it lives and breathes!

No doubt, I will have ample opportunity to talk about this with their lobbyists at my next education conference.

To read K12 Inc.’s full response to this essay, please click here.

Union County panel OKs extension with K12 Inc. for online school

Lydia X. McCoy

10:12 PM, Nov 19, 2015

my kid my school

Copyright 2015 Journal Media Group. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

The Union County school board — again — has decided it wants to continue working with K12 Inc.,

On Thursday, the board approved renewing its contract with the company, which provides the curriculum for the Tennessee Virtual Academy.

“This is something we do each year to decide if we’re going to renew the contract,” Jimmy Carter, Union County director of schools, told board members.

The board’s attorney, Mary Ann Stackhouse, has written a letter to the company informing them of the board’s intent now that they have approved the renewal.

“We have to let them know within a 180 days in advance,” she said during the meeting.

“The contract is up June 30, but we don’t want to be bumping up against Jan. 1 not having done it. If you vote on that tonight, we can send the letter out Dec. 1 and we’ve done what we’re supposed to do and kept our options open.”

In 2011, the Union County school system contracted with K12 Inc. to create the online academy for students in kindergarten through eighth grade across the state. The school, which has about 1,300 students, has had some bumps along the way.

While the school has seen some improvement in its test scores, the state told academy officials last year that if there wasn’t more progress the school would be closed.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen affirmed that decision in February and advised school officials to communicate with students and families to seek alternatives.

But in June, a Davidson County judge ruled that the school could remain open after two families filed a lawsuit claiming McQueen exceeded her authority when she ordered the school be shut down at the end of this academic year.

After Thursday’s meeting, Carter said he has reached out to McQueen to visit the district and show her what they are doing, including the next steps with the virtual academy.

“Our intentions are to keep it open. That’s our hope is to keep it open and move forward with it,” he said. “That’s why I want to sit down and talk to the commissioner now rather than later.”

In other board business:

Members received an update from the principals of the Paulette Elementary and Union County High about how they are addressing findings from the district’s audit report.

Members also received an update on the district’s achievement and value-added scores.

Union County saw the most growth in its fifth-grade math scores and as a school system moved from the fourth lowest in the state up 15 spots in one year.

“We are no longer fourth from the bottom,” said Trevor Collins, the district’s curriculum and professional learning coordinator, during the presentation.

And, he added, Union County was also one of four districts that moved from a Level 1 composite score to a Level 5 in one year.

“What we are doing is something that people are talking about … we are making a difference,” Collins said.

Copyright 2015 Journal Media Group. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Print this article
Back to Top

Share Article

Ramsey wants to give virtual school one last chance | Nashville Post

Ramsey wants to give virtual school one last chance

Published April 22, 2015 by Andrea Zelinski

A last ditch effort to keep open a floundering virtual school failed Tuesday in the Senate, although Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said he hopes to convince the administration to cut the school one last break.

“I firmly believe that that school needs to be given another chance,” Ramsey told the Post. “Now, one more year is all I’d give them. If they didn’t have the achievement then, I’d cut their legs out from under them, so to speak.”

Senators voted 17-13 against an amendment sponsored by Sen. Frank Niceley to give Union County-based Tennessee Virtual Academy a one-year reprieve to avoid closure if the school’s scores improve this year. The amendment, proposed on the floor and not timely filed, needed a two-thirds majority.

However, Niceley attempted to add the language to a separate bill sponsored by Education Committee Chairwoman Dolores Gresham that would allow students from outside the school zone to attend a school taken over by the state Achievement School District.

“This school has actually taken advantage of these students,” said Dolores Gresham, chair of the Education Committee and an advocate for school choice who fought off Niceley’s amendment. “Fairness, compassion and common sense will tell you that these students have not been served well. To let it go on for another year is outrageous.”

According to the state report card, fewer than one in four students are on grade level in math, and 42 percent are at or above grade level in reading language arts. Growth in student test scores ranked one out of five, the lowest score possible.

Proponents for the school argue Tennessee Virtual Academy, run by for-profit operator K12 Inc., shouldn’t be treated any differently than traditional public schools which can fall among the lowest-performing of the state but not face closure. They argue the school should have one more year to increase test scores.

Ramsey said he walked into the Senate planning to support Niceley’s effort to give the school one last chance. Ramsey acknowledged his vote in favor probably would have garnered a few more votes in the legislation’s favor, but said he changed his mind after the debate twisted in procedural knots after learning Niceley's had other ways to bring his measure to the floor instead of amending another member's bill. The practice is legal under the Senate rules but was frowned upon in debate Tuesday night.

“I'm still, honestly, going to work with the administration to see if we can't get them to extend another year,” said Ramsey.

Nashville Public Radio | Will Tennessee Continue Allowing Virtual Schools To Operate Statewide?

Will Tennessee Continue Allowing Virtual Schools To Operate Statewide?

http://thetruthaboutk12.com//wp-content/uploads/2015/09/

K-12 students end up getting most of their instruction online, though the youngest grades spend less time in front of a computer. Credit: K-12 via Facebook

This year, Tennessee lawmakers must decide whether or not to stay in the statewide cyber school business. The legislative act that paved the way for the troubled Tennessee Virtual Academy needs to be renewed.

For-profit virtual school operator K12 Inc. needed state law changed in order to pull students from all 95 counties. House Education Committee chairman Harry Brooks sponsored the bill in 2011.

Since then, Tennessee Virtual Academy has enrolled thousands of students and posted such bad scores that it’s on the brink of forced closure. But Brooks points to other smaller virtual schools performing well, and some have students from outside the typical geographic boundaries. Shelby County, which has 150 students, has opened enrollment statewide.

“My argument would be do you want to continue what Memphis is doing?” Brooks asks. “You have other virtual academies that have students from within their district and from outside their district.”

Rep. Joe Pitts (D-Clarksville), who is a member of the House Education Committee, says he would “hate to just wipe them all off.”

“But we’ve got to do something about this Tennessee Virtual Academy,” he says. “What a mess.”

Pitts says there’s nothing wrong with virtual education. But the legislature should consider adding oversight before extending the law another four years. He suggests enrollment caps and allowing the state to intervene after one year of poor test results instead of two.

Please keep your community civil. Comments will be moderated prior to posting, and Nashville Public Radio reserves the right to approve them at its discretion. Comments containing links promoting goods, services – even noble organizations – will not be published. Your comments may include external links, but all comments with links will be delayed as they are reviewed. Comments containing profanity will be rejected.

After Kevin Huffman stepped down as state commissioner in Tennessee, Governor Haslam selected Candace McQueen as his successor.


The Momma Bears of Trnnessee–the state’s parent activists—here figures out who she is, what she believes, and hopes for the best.


She is a Common Core cheerleader. The Mama Bears say poo to that.


She testified to the state legislature on behalf of Common Core and PARCC. Mama Bears say poo again.


“Finally, the announcement was made that the heir to the throne would be… Dr. Candice McQueen! A woman! A mom! A person who spent 5 years as a real teacher! We knew a little bit already about her from writing a past Momma Bear blog, but we researched her even more. There wasn’t much new to learn. We were disheartened to see that she has been a tireless cheerleader for Common Core. She testified to the TN legislature in support of the Common Core and the high-stakes PARCC test. Pooey. She is serving on the board of SCORE (the organization funded by Bill Gates to support Common Core and reformy stuff). Double pooey. She’s also served on boards that profit from Common Core (like the Ayers Foundation who received a huge chunk of the Race to the Top prize money to develop Common Core videos). Triple pooey. She’s involved with Pearson (a British mega-corporation) through Pearson’s EDTPA program that grants teaching licenses to people who can pass Pearson’s tests. Quadruple pooey. That’s a whole lot of poo, people!”


“On the other hand, her own private school, Lipscomb, was not doing Common Core; Lipscomb’s three private schools have their OWN standards. In fact, there was nearly a parent revolt at Lipscomb when the private school parents thought their little darlings would be doing the same Common Core standards as public school darlings… but Candice wiggled her way out of that one, assuring them there is no way in H-E-double-hockey sticks that Common Core has been adopted at Lipscomb and there are no plans for Common Core ever at Lipscomb, saying, “We make decisions about what’s going to be best within the context of our community. I would say that’s absolutely what we’re going to do now and for the future.” (insert applause from the Momma Bear gallery).”


The Mama Bears also read her doctoral dissertation on parent involvement.


Their conclusion is a home run:


Momma Bears have a whole bunch of questions that nobody will know the answers to for a few years:


Will she be the Governor’s puppet?


Will she still be a champion for the Common Core initiative? Will she defend and strengthen the battered teaching profession? Will she be an advocate for children or for business interests? Will she listen to parents when we tell her the testing is excessive? Will she understand and act wisely upon what she hears? Will she see parents as the enemies as Kevin Huffman did? Will she truly listen?


If we could ask her some literal questions, we’d like to know:


What were McQueen’s TVAAS scores were when she taught? Was she a level 5?


Why didn’t she teach longer? 2 years at one private school + 3 years at a public elementary school don’t seem to be very long at all. That’s not even long enough to gain tenure. Why did she quit so soon?


What happened to the 5th grade student she wrote about in her dissertation who was frustrated to tears over math homework? Would Sue Dugger, the student’s mother, rate McQueen as an excellent or poor teacher?


Does McQueen keep in touch with any of her former public school students? (we’re not talking about the adult students in her grad programs, but want to know about the children she taught because teaching is a lot about building relationships) Did her students feel valued, respected, and did they enjoy learning?


Where do her own children attend school? Is she involved as a parent there? Does she volunteer with the PTO/PTA?


What does parental involvement mean to her? Private schools often have different expectations than public schools.


What would she do if her own child was overwhelmed with testing and/or homework?


Would McQueen support suspending TCAP testing for 2015, or at least make it a no-consequences test since it is not aligned with the standards that are in limbo?


Would McQueen support throwing the secretive TVAAS formula and evaluation system out?


Will McQueen push the Governor for increasing teacher pay in Tennessee as he promised to do years ago?


Will she advocate for smaller class sizes and more support staff in schools?


Will she be a supporter of Art, Music, and sports in every school in TN?


Will she respect a parent’s choice to opt-out of standardized testing for their child?


Will she get rid of all these expensive benchmark assessments and screener tests that are eating up instructional time and recess for our children?

Will she take an honest look at the new RTI2 program mandated in TN? Is it really helping students, or is it helping the testing companies? Is it hurting students with disabilities and special needs?


Will she hire qualified, experienced people within the Tennessee Department of Education, or will she favor young, inexperienced Teach For America yes-man types like Huffman did?


Will she strengthen our locally elected school boards or seek to further revoke their power?


Will she favor charter schools over public schools?


Will she have the guts to close failing or corrupt charter schools, including the online K12 virtual school that is making so much money for its owner and for politicians’ campaigns?


Will she get rid of the ASD and give failing, poor schools the support they desperately need to help their students succeed?


Will she sign a multi-million dollar no-bid contract with Teach For America with our tax dollars?


Goodness, that’s a whole lot of unanswered questions!


and a whole lot of poo!!!


Momma Bears will be watching…
















via Diane Ravitch’s blog http://dianeravitch.net/2014/12/28/tennessee-mama-bears-review-their-new-state-commussioner/

This article appears on Breitbart.com, a conservative media outlet. Written by Dr. Susan Berry, a regular contributor to the website, it is critical of Jeb Bush’s support for the Common Core and details his relationships with other groups and funders.


 


With polls showing Republican support for Common Core plummeting, common sense would dictate that Bush call it a day with the nationalized standards, as has been done by other Republicans, such as Maine Gov. Paul LePage and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, who plans to run for governor of Louisiana next year.

However, as a review of Bush’s history with the education initiative demonstrates, his interest in pushing onto the entire nation the reforms he introduced while governor of Florida – and his methods for doing so – have led his critics to claim he is more about big government crony capitalism than concern for children’s education.

Bush is the founder of several organizations that all play into a reported strategy that involves not only motivating “the people” at large for changes in education, but also using state education officials to administratively make some of those changes happen without the scrutiny or approval of the public.

As the founder and chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE), a national group which states its ambitious mission is “to build an American education system that equips every child to achieve his or her God-given potential,” Bush tapped for CEO Patricia Levesque, his former deputy chief of staff for education, enterprise solutions for government, minority procurement, and business and professional regulation while he was governor.

Chiefs for Change is an affiliate of FEE and describes itself as a “bipartisan coalition of current and former state education chiefs who believe that American public education can be dramatically improved.” Current members of Chiefs for Change include Mark Murphy of Delaware, Tom Luna of Idaho, John White of Louisiana, Hanna Skandera of New Mexico, Janet Barresi of Oklahoma – who was defeated in the state’s primary election this year, Deborah Gist of Rhode Island, and Kevin Huffman of Tennessee, former education commissioner and ex-husband of controversial Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee…..


 


As it happens, some of the Chiefs for Change are also members of the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), one of the two federally funded interstate consortia that are developing tests aligned with the Common Core standards.

“Cronyism and corruption come in all political stripes and colors,” wrote [Michelle] Malkin at Townhall. “As a conservative parent of public charter school-educated children, I am especially appalled by these pocket-lining GOP elites who are giving grassroots education reformers a bad name and cashing in on their betrayal of limited-government principles…..”


 


Additionally, Bush has joined with former president of the pro-Common Core Fordham Institute Chester Finn and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Conservatives for Higher Standards, a group that promotes the Common Core standards but whose supporters still call themselves “conservatives.” Among the organization’s supporters are Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), soon-to-be head of the Senate committee that oversees education; former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R); former U.S. Secretary of Education Bill Bennett; Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R); Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R); former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R); and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R).

The Fordham Institute, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Bush’s national organization have all been awarded grants by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the primary private backer of the Common Core standards.

In 2013, Bush’s FEE itself received $3,500,000 from the Gates Foundation. Two million dollars of that was awarded to FEE “to support Common Core implementation,” and $1.5 million was “for general operating support….”


 


In addition to the Gates Foundation, FEE’s donor list includes names not unfamiliar to critics of the Common Core standards: the GE Foundation, the Helmsley Charitable Trust, News Corp, the Walton Family Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Carnegie Corporation, the Schwab Foundation, Microsoft, Exxon Mobil, Paul Singer Foundation, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Intel, K12, Pearson, Scholastic, and Target.

Book publishers such as Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, K12, and Scholastic are all poised to reap billions off the sale of Common Core-aligned textbooks and instructional materials that school districts are forced to purchase if they want their students to succeed on the Common Core-aligned assessments. Similarly, technology companies will benefit from the online assessments and student data collection.


 


 


 


 


 


 
















via Diane Ravitch’s blog http://ift.tt/1AGDhdl

John Hechinger, one of the narion’s top investigative reporters, here presents a balanced but nonetheless devastating overview of K12 Inc., the for-profit virtual charter chain listed on the Néw York Stock Exchange.


K12 is the biggest purveyor of online homeschooling, paid for with public funds drawn away from traditional public schools.


This approach may be effective for some studentsstudents training to be athletes or performers, students with illnesses–but K12 reaches out to recruit as many as it can.


“Plagued by subpar test scores, the largest operator of online public schools in the U.S. has lost management contracts or been threatened with school shutdowns in five states this year. The National Collegiate Athletic Association ruled in April that students can no longer count credits from 24 K12 high schools toward athletic scholarships.

While the company says its investments in academic quality are starting to pay off, once-soaring enrollment at the more than 60 public schools it manages has dropped almost 5 percent. Targeted by short sellers, who benefit from a company’s decline, K12 shares have tumbled by two-thirds since reaching a near-record high in Septeber 2013…..”


“Of the full-time online schools assigned ratings by their states, only one-third were considered academically acceptable in 2012-2013, the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado reported this year. The percentage of K12 students achieving proficiency on state math and reading tests is generally below state averages, according to the company’s 2014 academic report.


“Ohio Virtual Academy, which accounts for 10 percent of K12’s annual revenue, received failing grades on a state report card last year for student test-score progress and graduation rates. Only 37 percent of its ninth graders receive diplomas within four years.”


Several online charters have cancelled their contracts with K12. Tennessee may soon cancel its Tennessee Virtual Academy.


“In Tennessee, education commissioner Kevin Huffman is moving to close a K12-managed school unless it can improve results by the end of this school year. Tennessee Virtual Academy has test results “in the bottom of the bottom tier” and is an “abject failure” in improving student outcomes, Huffman said in a telephone interview.”
















via Diane Ravitch’s blog » K12 Inc. http://ift.tt/1t39mGh