Blogs

Nate Davis's picture

Remembering the Life and Legacy of Barbara Dreyer

Barbara Dreyer, the long-time CEO of Connections Education, died earlier this week. Not only is Barbara’s death a loss for her friends and family, but also for the education reform movement.

Barbara was a tireless advocate for innovation in education and a compassionate woman who cared greatly about helping all students succeed. While K12 and Connections are viewed as competitors, even more we are partners in a greater cause to expand parent choice and educational opportunity for all children. On far more occasions than most know, K12 and Connections worked together to help bring new school options and choices to families across the country. Barbara always encouraged collaboration and teamwork among competitors within the industry – a mark of strong leadership. I was fortunate enough to have talked to Barbara on a number of occasions and, along with others, we talked about establishing an industry advocacy group. In every conversation, I found her to be one of the most insightful, passionate, and knowledgeable influencers in the education space.  

Many of us at K12 were fortunate to call Barbara a friend. Her professional accomplishments and contributions to the digital learning industry were significant and her passion for the work she so loved cannot be overstated. She was a formidable leader with strong views who never shied away from sharing her opinions, whether you agreed with them or not.  Barbara led Connections Education with strength, grace and dignity, especially throughout her long battle with cancer. Her perseverance is her legacy. 

It is no exaggeration to say that many students across this country are benefiting today because of Barbara’s efforts, and while they may never have had the opportunity to know her, she left an indelible imprint on their lives.

All of us at K12 Inc. extend our deepest condolences to Barbara’s family and friends, and to everyone at Connections Education.  We commend you, Barbara, for all you’ve done to help children throughout your life. You will be missed.

Nate Davis

Chairman and CEO, K12 Inc.

Nate Davis's picture

Welcome Class of 2015

Parents, dedicated teachers and especially the incoming class of 2015!

 

On behalf of everyone at K12 and our partner school boards, I want to be one of the first to welcome you to the 2014-2015 school year! I hope the summer break gave you some well deserved time to relax with family and friends and refreshed you to meet the challenges and adventures of this new school year.  I am confident that you are going have a very rewarding experience as the K12 team and our school partners have been working hard over these last several months to make this year’s instructional experience for students and teachers the best yet. We are are prepared for you and excited to help you succeed!

 

 

Our mission, to put students first and maximize their potential to learn and achieve, remains at the forefront of everything we do. And a glimpse of what’s happening behind the scenes at K12 can reveal what's fueling our excitement for the Class of 2015!
 

  • Our teacher and staff engagement is at an all-time high - over the summer, our teachers have been training, collaborating and preparing our quality programming to address many new standards that we are implementing to make our student experience even greater. After all, we are constantly challenging ourselves to raise the bar of excellence and we are working incredibly hard to continuously improve the quality of education we provide to our students.
     

  • Additional resources are on the way - this year we’ll be starting several pilot programs so that our educators and school services team have even more resources to serve our students. Our “Desire2Learn” pilot program will be launching soon and will ultimately replace the current OLS (Online School) with a more adaptive interface that will deliver an individualized learning experience for each student that is based on their custom needs and learning schedule.
     

  • More personalized learning programs - K12 will be exploring even more blended, or part-time face-to-face, learning environments for those students who need it the most. We’ve seen recent success with this approach (partner program in Colorado) and will be looking for even more ways to partner and expand hybrid learning with an eye towards increased mobility.

Each one of our students are very fortunate to be surrounded by an educator community that prizes its young people and values education. As a company of educators, K12 has the largest network of online and blended school teachers in the entire country - nearly 6,000 strong!

Mary Gifford's picture

Policy Brief: Online Teaching in Multiple States

As students report for the first day of school across the country, many classrooms will have more students than planned. Thousands of high school students will learn that their first and second choices of elective courses have been cancelled.  Students across more than one-half of the states will start school with long-term substitute teachers providing core instruction.

Increasingly complicated, restrictive and far-reaching regulations are contributing to teacher shortages across the country. The US Department of Education published a 164 page report in March 2014 that provides lists of specific shortages in each state. A recent newspaper article  tells the story of Oklahoma schools starting with more than 800 teacher vacancies. Indeed, the California Teacher Association web site states, “Attracting and keeping quality teachers in California classrooms is an ongoing challenge.”

Many of these teacher shortages could be avoided if states would consider moving teacher licensure regulations into the 21st Century. The Evergreen Education Group issued a paper, Teaching Online Across State Lines, on July 30, 2014 that explores options states may consider to recruit quality teachers into our public schools and to allow experienced teachers to leverage their expertise across schools. Outdated regulations for alternative certification and reciprocity are not empowering principals to match the best teachers with students.  It is time for state officials to carefully evaluate outdated regulations that do not significantly lower barriers that keep quality teachers from instructing students.

The Evergreen policy brief advances the idea of multi-state licensure for teachers who teach online courses. If states worked to sew together the patchwork pieces of teacher credentialing, schools would have increased flexibility and be more responsive to students’ needs.  For instance, school leaders could focus on recruiting and retaining classroom teachers for core subjects, and leverage online teachers for electives. Or, a small, rural school could accommodate the two students who need third year Chinese by utilizing a highly qualified online teacher from a neighboring state rather than cancelling the entire course due to the lack of a local highly qualified Chinese teacher.  Or, students at risk of dropping out may be enticed to remain enrolled in school if they could take online Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses to enable them to get a job upon graduation.

Guadalupe Vander Ploeg's picture

K12’s National Teacher Training Program: A Living Laboratory of Learning

Through partnerships with schools and districts, K12 has created thousands of new jobs and opportunities for teachers across the U.S. Today, more than 6,000 teachers are working in K12-partner schools – the largest network of K-12 online school teachers in the nation. Over the last decade, K12 has developed a highly regarded National Teacher Training Program, incorporating quality teaching standards and best practices in online instruction and personalize learning. Guadalupe Vander Ploeg, EdD, Director of Academic Services at K12, discusses professional learning and development for online teachers, as well as student achievement.

K12 has the unique ongoing opportunity to analyze academic achievement data as well as the feedback it receives from its large national and international network of schools, teachers, parents and students in an effort to evaluate and determine the most impactful focus for professional development. We consider it our role to create a living laboratory of learning.  Doing this involves both research into identifying what works for students and using those findings to model educational practice.  It also means identifying what works for our teachers in light of the changing needs and shift in role. 

Much is still unknown about the role of the online teacher and the instructional practices that can be used to serve the needs of students. To date, what researchers have established is the importance of a positive learner-centered teacher-student relationship as it relates to student outcomes. In the virtual classroom, the significance of this relationship continues to be emphasized, as standards call for online teachers to plan, design, and incorporate varying combinations of interactions to diverse groupings of students to encourage active learning, interaction, and participation in the online environment. The intention of varied interactions is to provide students with equivalent interaction opportunities as those available in traditional face-to-face classrooms for even greater academic outcomes.

Overwhelmingly, it can be stated that a primary role for a teacher is to be a continual learner and a problem solver who accepts challenges, poses questions, and endeavors to find informed solutions while grappling with uncertainty. K12 online teachers may be new to the role, but not new to the cultural underpinnings that have shaped the American education system. The major life transition that moves the teacher from the front of the classroom to guide behind the computer break with traditionally recognized models of teacher professional development.

Byron Ernest's picture

Hoosier Academies Climbs Mount Everest

Last week I had the opportunity and honor of introducing myself as the new Head of School for Hoosier Academies in Indiana. This introduction was to the entire staff at our two day professional development and family expo. After sharing some personal information about my love for the Purdue Boilermakers and my son’s recent successes showing dairy cows I took them on a case study journey of Mount Everest – 1996.

The case study of Mount Everest – 1996 lets us study the incredible achievement and great tragedy on Mount Everest in the spring of 1996. Ninety-eight men and women made it safely to the summit, but 15 did not return. Even some of the world’s most renowned high-altitude climbers, including Rob Hall and Scott Fischer, reached the summit, but died during the descent because of a storm.

The first question I asked during the case study facilitation was: “Why do people climb mountains?”

Here are some of the responses from Hoosier staff:

  • Excitement
  • Ego
  • Push oneself to the limit
  • Recognition
  • Competition
  • Help others make it
  • Do things that have not been done
  • The love of climbing
  • The view from the top
  • Set a goal to summit

As a leader, I get why some individuals want to make the climb. It is the idea of being a Trailblazer. Trailblazers go before others go. They do not send others where they are unwilling to go themselves. During our session we compared this to being a Sherpa. This analogy came after I had shared with the group my philosophy of “leading from where you are.” Sherpas are the inhabitants of the Khumba-valley, the national park surrounding Mount Everest. Living at the high altitude for generations, they have developed a genetic natural allowance for it. Once you go to 10,000 feet they will easily outrun you.

Our Sherpa analogy carried through the entire two days. The analogy of us as educational leaders to that of a Sherpa is great because they are successful by helping those around them reach their full potential. As educators we must be Sherpa’s of student achievement. Great Sherpa’s do not just look up the mountain and say, “Let’s go!” They, as great leaders, carefully plot out each step to ensure a safe and successful trip. Sherpa’s routinely deal with unexpected weather, animals, obscured paths, and many other obstacles.  Rather than becoming derailed, they build contingency plans and adapt in real-time.

We all made a strong connection between Sherpa’s and educational leadership.

Nate Davis's picture

The Bond Between Charter Schools and Digital Learning

In 1992, the first charter school was introduced and the concept of public school choice in American education was born. Today, over 2.5 million students attend more than 6,400 charter schools in 42 states and the District of Columbia. 

In the late 90’s, just as charter schools were about to experience a period of tremendous growth, a new educational innovation began to take root: digital learning.  

Over the last decade, a strong nexus emerged between digital learning and charter schools. In charter schools, digital learning found environments that nurtured creativity and innovation.  Through digital learning, charter schools were able to provide families from every demographic more options, access, and choice in public education.

Charter schools became the primary vehicle for the advancement of digital learning, and naturally so. One of the cornerstones of charter schools was to invite education advancements by giving educators greater flexibility and autonomy to pioneer new educational programs. The goal was to allow charter schools to test and develop new models that could be replicated by other public schools and districts – a kind of education “skunkworks.” 

The first online charter schools – totally digital learning environments – emerged in the early 2000’s when Pennsylvania became the first state to allow online charter schools. Soon after, many other states began to follow. Charters offering blended learning (combining digital and face-to-face instruction) quickly followed, providing a wide range of exciting and differentiated instructional models. These online and blended charter schools scaled quickly to meet demand from parents, and ran head on into the status quo. Conventional educational norms were challenged. Debate shifted from simply trying to find ways to tinker with the traditional model to wholly re-thinking how technology could disrupt the way education is delivered and consumed for the better.

Ashley Collier's picture

Blended Charter School Graduation Ceremony Honors Inspiring Students Who Overcame Challenges

Celebrating its fifth graduating class, YCCS Virtual High School honored more than 85 high school graduates at a ceremony that took place at Malcom X College on Monday, June 16.

YCCS Virtual High School uses an innovative blended school model, combining online learning and classroom instruction to primarily serve students ages 18-21 who, for a variety of reason, haven’t been able to finish their high school education.

"With the right support, our students absolutely thrive," says Elizabeth Roth, Head of School for the YCCS Virtual High School. "This program gives an opportunity for students to reach their goals and receive their high school diploma, while receiving the support they need into their post-secondary venture. There's not another program like this in Chicago that targets this age range"

YCCS Virtual High School is designed for students who have dropped out of traditional school or have fallen behind in credits, but still have the desire to graduate with a high school diploma.

In the past four years, YCCS has enable 92 percent of its students to graduates, a stellar rate of success that outpaces the national average.

K12 Inc.'s picture

VIDEO: K12 Congratulates the Graduates of 2014

A special message from the more than 5,000 teachers and educators, and the hundreds of professional staff members at K12 who work so hard behind the scenes to put our students first!

Dear Graduates:

On behalf of all of us at K12, Congratulations!

 

Ashley Collier's picture

K12 Graduation Round-up: IDVA, SCVCS, and UTVA

Idaho Virtual Academy Congratulates 2014 Graduating Class

This spring 130 students walked across the stage, graduating from Idaho Virtual Academy (IDVA) – a full-time, online public school serving students across the state.

Graduates from 26 counties and 52 cities celebrated academic achievements with teachers and peers in ceremonies in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Falls, and Nampa. IDVA graduates will be attending universities and colleges such as Boise State University, Montana State University, and Carrington College.

More from IDVA:

READ: Online students prepare for graduation (Idaho ED News)

READ: Virtual Academy Students Graduate Wednesday (Idaho Press Tribune)

WATCH: Seniors Graduate Without Stepping Foot Into the Classroom (KPVI News 6)
 

South Carolina Virtual Charter School Celebrates Largest Graduating Class To-Date

South Carolina Virtual Charter School (SCVCS) honored more than 160 students at a ceremony that took place on Thursday, June 5.

The ceremony featured remarks from Hayden Covington, Valedictorian of the graduating class, and Johnathan Edwards, Salutatorian.
Hayden is a member of the National Honor Society and has been nominated for student of the month several times. Outside of school, Hayden is a seasoned ballet dancer, training 20 hours a week and performing with the International Ballet Academy. Hayden attributes her academic success to her determination and says that “SCVCS has been the ideal bridge to college” and has helped her learn to trust herself in learning new concepts. Upon graduating, Hayden plans to attend Furman University this fall, followed by graduate school. She would eventually like to pursue a career in the science field.

Another standout graduating senior, Johnathan has served as both President and Vice President of SCVCS’s National Honor Society and was a Junior Marshall for last year’s graduation. In his free time, Johnathan enjoys playing competitive tennis and has been recognized as one of the top 10 junior tennis players in South Carolina.  In addition to holding two jobs – as a tennis instructor and maintaining courts at the nearby tennis club – Johnathan is active in the community and has participated in food drives, book drives and tutoring. This fall, Johnathan will be playing NCAA Division 1 tennis at University of Connecticut, where plans to major in marketing.

Source: South Carolina Virtual Charter School, (2014). South Carolina Virtual Charter School Congratulates Class of 2014

 

Utah Virtual Academy Hosts in-person graduation with Noted American Economist, Best-Selling Author

Last week, more than 80 high school seniors turned the tassel and graduated from Utah Virtual Academy (UTVA).  

Paul Zane Pilzer, a noted American economist, best-selling author, and social entrepreneur, spoke to this year’s graduating class. Mr. Pilzer has written nine books, served in two U.S. Presidential administrations, is the founder of six companies, and has been profiled on the front page of The Wall Street Journal.

Students from this year’s graduating class will attend Westminster College, University of Utah, Utah State University, Weber State University, Brigham Young University, Snow College, and Salt Lake Community College.

Source: Utah Virtual Academy, (2014). Utah Virtual Academy to host in-person graduation on June 5

Ashley Collier's picture

Ohio Virtual Academy Class of 2014 Offered more than $1.65 Million in College Scholarships

Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA) honored 630 graduates and celebrated academic achievements in a ceremony that took place on Saturday, June 7. OHVA’s graduating class has amassed an impressive total of more than $1.65 million in college scholarship money offered.

"OHVA’s administration, teachers and staff are proud to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduating class. These students have worked hard to reach their goal of graduation and deserve to be recognized for their achievements. The fact that OHVA could provide a framework for students to succeed is truly an honor,” said Kyle Wilkinson, 11th and 12th grade Principal at Ohio Virtual Academy in a school press release

OHVA Graduation

While the accomplishment of a high school diploma is an achievement in itself, the vast majority of students from the OHVA Class of 2014 have chosen to take their studies to the next level, including post-secondary colleges, advanced training and the military. Some of the colleges chosen by this year's graduating class include:

                        Air Force Academy                          Northern Kentucky University

                        Art Institute of Pittsburgh                Ohio State University

                        Brigham Young University               Ohio University

                        California Institute of the Arts        San Diego State

                        John Carroll University                   University of Cincinnati

                        Kent State University                      University of Dayton

                        Miami University of Ohio                University of Toledo

                        Virginia Military Institute                 Xavier University

Pages