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Weekly Roundup - 7.2.15

Weekly Roundup showcases stories and information about the students and schools we serve, K12 educators, and important education issues.

K12 Inc. Report Shows Achievement Gains at Wisconsin Virtual Academy
Press Release

K12 Inc. released a new report highlighting how a community of educators, students, and families working together to build strong relationships can drive strong academic performance at Wisconsin Virtual Academy (WIVA). WIVA is a statewide online public charter school authorized by McFarland School District, serving students in kindergarten through high school.

George Washington University Online High School Honors 2015 Graduates at In-person Ceremony
Press Release

The George Washington University Online High School (GWUOHS), an online college preparatory school for students in grades 6-12, will recognize the Class of 2015 on Saturday, June 27, in the Marvin Center Grand Ballroom at the GWU Foggy Bottom Campus. This year, twenty-nine students will receive their high school diploma from GWUOHS. The GWUOHS Class of 2015 earned a combined total of more than one million dollars in college scholarships. Graduates are expected to pursue higher education at institutions including Bryn Mawr, The George Washington University, Rutgers, University of California-Berkeley and New York University, among others. The commencement speaker for the ceremony on Saturday will be Dr. David Pelizzari, Vice President of Content and Curriculum at K12 Inc. and a founding board member at GWUOHS.

Tennessee Virtual Academy not enrolling new students this year

The Tennessee Virtual Academy says it will not enroll new students this school year, but will instead work with the approximately 800 students already enrolled with a focus on changing assessments and concentrating on current curriculum. If the school feels the changes are successful, they say they will work on enrolling new students next school year.

Area American Legion Units Send Delegates to State
Weekly Mailer

The Burley American Legion Post #17 and Auxiliary Unit #17 are sponsoring a total of nine local students to attend a state-wide event designed to give them hands on experience in the legislative process. Post #17 is sponsoring two Burley High School boys, Hector Magana and Jaime Mojarra to attend Boys State and the auxiliary unit is sponsoring six Burley High School girls, Andrea Cardona, Melissa McMurray, Sarah Millar, Alejandra Mojica, Marisa Shaw and Shailey Woodward and one girl from Idaho Virtual Academy, Abigail Patterson. All participants are outstanding examples of today’s youth and are commended for their efforts.

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New Report Highlights Achievement Gains at Wisconsin Virtual Academy

Today a new report was released by K12 Inc., titled Wisconsin Virtual Academy: Building Strong Relationships for Academic Success. The report highlights how a community of educators, students, and families working together to build strong relationships can drive strong academic performance at Wisconsin Virtual Academy (WIVA).

I have been the head of school at WIVA for 6 years and am proud of our school’s achievements that are outlined in this white paper. Over the past four years, our enrollment has increased by 189 percent and we’ve be able to report a graduation rate increase of 18.1 percentage points. While rapid growth can sometimes present challenges for educators, WIVA was able to increase our accountability rating by 5.6 points, earning us a rating of “Meets Expectations” for the 2013-2014 school year.

WIVA demonstrates that economically disadvantaged students grow stronger over time. In the 2013-2014 school year, 57% of the more than 1,900 students enrolled were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (FRL), a higher percentage than the national average.

In Reading, compared to students enrolled less than 1 year, WIVA's FRL-eligible students enrolled 3 years or more achieved higher proficiency percentages in all FRL groups. The gap between Reduced-Price Lunch Eligible students and Not Eligible students narrowed from 35 percentage points for students enrolled less than 1 year to 18 percentage points for students enrolled 3 years or more. In Mathematics, compared to students enrolled less than 1 year, WIVA students enrolled 3 years or more achieved higher proficiency percentages in all FRL groups.

We attribute much of these academic achievements to the importance of building strong relationships.

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Weekly Roundup - 6.19.15

Weekly Roundup showcases stories and information about the students and schools we serve, K12 educators, and important education issues.

Chancellor’s ruling gives new life to TN Virtual Academy

An upset in the courtroom has given 1,300 Tennessee families new hope for education. The State of Tennessee shut down Tennessee's Virtual Academy last month, but a Nashville judge overturned it because of a mistake by the state. It was Austin Posan and the Taylor twins against Goliath, the last hope for 1,300 students, many who said they had nowhere else to go.

Student with Asperger’s tops class
Indiana Gazette

For Chance Mair, sometimes emotions are hard to express. And it was certainly an emotional night at Marysville Arts and Technology High School’s graduation recently, where the students filed into the auditorium in black gowns and royal-blue stoles. Not only was Mair graduating with the 50 seniors in his class, he was the class valedictorian. And he would be giving the valedictorian address, a momentous occasion for a student who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at an early age.

Over time, Mair’s family carved a path that would challenge him, but was also comfortable. He moved from the special-education class and therapy to regular elementary-school classes. He took half his courses in a public middle school and the rest at Washington Virtual Academy online. Once in high school, he was so advanced in math he ended up taking courses at Everett Community College.

Virtual classroom: Online high school has its advantages
Las Vegas Sun

Foster is a junior at Nevada Virtual Academy, founded in 2008. With about 3,000 students enrolled in K-12, it’s one of the largest state-sponsored charters in Nevada. Foster is one of more than 700 students in the school’s online high school. The big draw for William is being able to work at his own pace. He tracks his progress online, so he knows what’s due and what he needs to read that week. When it’s time to take a test, proctors check in on students via webcam. When the test is over, Foster gets the results immediately rather than waiting for a teacher to grade it.

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K12 Welcomes Joel Medley, North Carolina Virtual Academy’s Head of School

North Carolina Virtual Academy (NCVA), a new K-12 online public charter school, named Joel Medley as Head of School. Joel, a life-long educator and award-winning teacher, school administrator, and state education official sat down for a Q&A about his background and the new role


Tell us about your experience prior to accepting the role as NCVA’s Head of School, and any notables you want to share.

Joel Medley: I’m the son of a high school dropout.  I came home from basketball practice and sat at the kitchen table working on my homework while also helping my dad study for his G.E.D.  When he walked across the stage and received that G.E.D., I knew education was where I wanted to go.  I was only the third person in my immediate family to graduate from high school and the first to graduate from a four year university (and complete graduate degrees).  I taught social studies at a charter school, served as an administrator in both charter and traditional schools, and served in both the North Carolina and South Carolina departments of education working with charter schools.  As far as awards, here are a few:

  • 2001 NC Character Educator of the Year for High School
  • 2010 SC Charter Friend of the Year
  • 2010 Inez M. Tennenbaum Award from the School Leadership Executive Institute at the SC Department of Education
  • October 30, 2011 “Tarheel of the Week” by the Raleigh News and Observer 

What made you decide to move from your pervious role as Director of Charter Schools back into school administration?

JM: While serving as the Director of the NC Office of Charter Schools, I had the ability to see the different instructional methodologies based upon their adopted missions.  Those nuances were making a positive difference for the students and families that chose to attend the charter schools.  Such observation allowed me to broaden my educational perspective and fostered a desire to return to the school level.  Previous opportunities presented themselves, but I wanted to find the right fit.  I inquired as to whether the position was still available and then went through the process to explore the possibility.  When the offer was made, our family decided to jump at the opportunity for something so unique for North Carolina. 

Why are educational options like NCVA good for North Carolina?

JM: Simple – because they make a difference for children.  One of the guiding principles of K12 is to “teach the individual not the group.”  If children are our focus, then we need to develop and implement options that meet them where they are and take them to where they want to be.  For instance, when we go to a clothing store, we select the style, color, and size that we want and that fit our need.  NCVA is offering parents a different style, color, or size that meets their needs. 

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New Report Shows K12 Partner Schools are Closing the Achievement Gap Among Low-Income Students

This week K12 released a new report in a white paper series, titled Closing the Achievement Gap at Three Virtual Academies. The report highlights three of K12’s largest online charter schools – Texas Virtual Academy (TXVA), Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA), and Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA) – that are making progress on closing the achievement gap among low-income students.

The report emphasizes that while K12’s network of schools are enrolling higher percentages of economically disadvantaged students than national averages, many schools are successfully closing the achievement gap.

Key findings include:

Texas Virtual Academy: In Reading, comparing TXVA students enrolled 3 years or more to those enrolled less than 1 year, proficiency percentages increased with longer enrollment for Free Lunch Eligible students by 20 percentage points, for Reduce-Price Lunch by 18 percentage points, and for Not Eligible by 15 percentage points.

Notable at TXVA is the impressive improvement in Mathematics for each category of students enrolled 3 years or more, with 74% of students eligible for Free Lunch reaching proficiency, 81% of students eligible for Reduced-Price Lunch reaching proficiency, and 94% of students Not Eligible for subsidized meals reaching proficiency. 

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Weekly Roundup - 6.5.15

Weekly Roundup showcases stories and information about the students and schools we serve, K12 educators, and important education issues.

Insight School of Minnesota to Graduate Class of 2015
More than 50 students will receive their high school diploma from ISMN this year. ISMN is an education option available to students of every ability level, but possesses a competency in helping students who are struggling academically. Graduates are expected to pursue higher education at institutions including Minnesota State University –Mankato, Hamline University, Alexandria Technical College and St. Cloud State University.

Ohio Virtual Academy to Graduate Largest Class in School History
Nearly 750 students will graduate from OHVA on June 6 in Columbus. The Ohio Virtual Academy Class of 2015 earned a combined total of more than $2.1 million in college scholarship. Graduates are expected to attend some of the most prestigious institutions in the state and the country, including Case Western Reserve University, Florida State andOhio State University.  

Minnesota Virtual Academy to Celebrate Class of 2015 Graduation
This year, more than 115 students will receive their high school diplomas from MNVA, which is an education option available to all Minnesota students. Of this year's graduates, 25 will be recognized as honor students, having maintained a grade point average of 3.5 or higher. Two students will be honored as valedictorians, both having achieved 4.0 GPAs. Seven of MNVA's graduating seniors are members of the National Honor Society.

Online School Students from California Virtual Academy @ San Diego Meet Face to Face for Graduation Ceremony June 8
Nearly 250 students are expected to graduate in the California Virtual Academy@ San Diego class of 2015. Many of the students attending the graduation ceremony will be meeting each other for the first time outside of their virtual classrooms.
Graduates will be attending universities and colleges across the country and state including Grand Canyon University, Brigham Young University-Idaho, San Francisco State University, Culinary Arts institute, University of California, San Diego, Grossmont College, University of Utah, California State University, Long Beach, Oklahoma State University, Ohio State University, and George Washington University.

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Celebrating ISAZ and AZVA Graduates

Last week I had the honor of speaking at two K12-partner school high school graduation ceremonies: Insight Academy of Arizona (ISAZ) on Wednesday, May 27 and Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA) on Thursday, May 28.

Both ceremonies were filled will families from across the state of Arizona and represented a significant accomplishment of each school’s senior classes.

ISAZ celebrated the graduation of more than 100 students.  These students came to ISAZ because they had struggled in brick and mortar schools.  ISAZ is a school specifically targeted for those struggling academically. This graduation is recognition that these students can succeed and flourish in a virtual learning environment.  Graduates are headed to colleges such as Arizona State University, Grand Canyon University, Arizona Western College, and Rio Salado College.

During my speech to the 2015 graduating class I spoke of how the important goals in life are only achieved with determination, courage, hard work, collaboration, and a clear understanding of what success looks like. I shared ISAZ student stories from Fernanda Castillo, a dedicated mother of a two-year old daughter as well as a high school student, who graduated earlier in April, as well as, Brandyn Barton, who took advantage of the flexibility of ISAZ to complete all graduation requirements while officially still in the 11th grade.

On the next night, I had the privilege of speaking to the 2015 graduating class at AZVA. Again, more than 100 graduates walked the stage; many headed to colleges such as University of Arizona, The Julliard School, and Brigham Young University to name a few.

I challenged the graduating class to continue do what is right – to stay the course with your principles and values, and to be the kind of person they know they can and should become. I emphasized that how doing the right thing led graduates to this monumental day. From completing assignments, studying, to passing all required courses to earn a diploma.

I highlighted two students in the AZVA graduating class, who did what was right. Tye Waggoner transferred from a brick-and-mortar school to AZVA despite family recommendations against her decision. Tye set a goal of attaining all A’s through putting countless hours into school work and finding her own path through online learning. Another example is Yannick Schreiber, who realized early on that he would be unprepared for college if he attended his local high school. Yannick joined AZVA because he felt like it was the right fit for him and the right thing to do for his future.  

I concluded my speech with the following remarks:

All this work that you have completed prepares you for your future. But there is still work ahead for sure. Whether you continue in school or begin a career, or focus on raising a family, learning will be a part of your life forever.

Congratulations to the class of 2015!

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Weekly Roundup - 5.29.15

Weekly Roundup showcases stories and information about the students and schools we serve, K12 educators, and important education issues.

North Carolina Virtual Academy Announces New School Leadership Team
(Press Release)

North Carolina Virtual Academy (NCVA), a K-12 online public charter school, today announced two experienced North Carolina educators as the newest members to its school leadership team. Joel Medley was named as North Carolina Virtual Academy's Head of School and Marcia Simmons will serve as an Academic Administrator. They will start on Monday, June 1, 2015.

Director of state charter office to lead online public school
(The News Observer)

Joel Medley, head of the charter school office in the state Department of Public Instruction, has accepted a job running the K12 online charter school in North Carolina. Thursday was Medley’s last day running the state’s charter school office. Medley will start next week as the online school’s top administrator, or head of school.
“It’s an opportunity to learn and be part of something that’s so rare for the state,” Medley said.

Speaker Bosma names 2010 Teacher of the Year to SBOE
(Press Release)

House Speaker Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis) has appointed Dr. Byron L. Ernest to serve as a member of the Indiana State Board of Education (SBOE). Dr. Ernest is currently the Head of Schools for Hoosier Academies in Indiana. 

Minnesota Counselor of the Year has local ties
(Spring Grove Herald)

Tina Barness of Ossian was recently named Minnesota Elementary School Counselor of the Year by the Minnesota School Counselor’s Association (MSCA). Barness was honored in front of 550 peers at the state conference in Brainerd, Minn., on May 4. Barness received the award in recognition of her leadership, advocacy and collaboration and her work in promoting equity and access to opportunities and rigorous educational experiences for all students to maximize student achievement.  

Barness is a school counselor for students in kindergarten through eighth grade for the Minnesota Virtual Academy (MNVA), an online program in the Houston Public School District. Barness supports over 1,000 students on her caseload with students living across the entire state of Minnesota.

Brookfield family shares online school experience
(Brookfield Now)

With temperatures on the rise and Memorial Day in the rear view mirror, many Brookfield and Elm Grove parents soon will be getting used to having their children around the house much more. For one family in the city of Brookfield however, school being in session and the children being around are not mutually exclusive. Carrie Jensen has enrolled her children in the Wisconsin Virtual Academy to provide at-home schooling for five of her children. Two older Jensen children also attended the academy through eighth grade and now attend Brookfield Academy. Two more are likely to begin schooling soon. The Wisconsin Virtual Academy (WIVA) is an online public charter school that provides a full-time, tuition-free, K-12 curriculum.

Pikes Peak Online School Opens for Fall 2015
(Press Release)

Pikes Peak Online School (PPOS), a tuition-free online public school for Colorado students statewide in grades 9 through 12, has been approved to enroll students for the 2015-2016 school year. Authorized by the Colorado Digital Board of Cooperative Education Services (CD BOCES), PPOS is an education option focused on helping students who are struggling academically. With a unique and highly supportive approach, PPOS will work with students and their families to help them overcome obstacles, including learning or behavioral issues, bullying, or a lack of effective alternatives.

2015 Graduation Announcements

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New K12 Inc. Academic Report Shows Overall Student Improvement

K12 recently issued its 2015 Academic Report which details the academic results in all K12 partner schools. The report data includes valid state academic test results for school year 2013-2014 and demonstrated that student proficiency within online schools is improving from previous years.

You can access the full report, here.

Publically available test data are limited to Full Academic Year (FAY) – students who were enrolled on or before a cutoff date typically very close to the beginning of the school year, however data in the Academic Report are derived from K12’s Academic Performance Database and captures all students who were tested. The report closely examines individual school performance over a three-year period and student performance in key subgroups.

In a forward to the report, K12 Chairman and CEO Nate Davis writes, “This report is an important part of our research efforts at K12. We are researching the structure of schools and of school days to optimize the learning experience for students. We continue to assess better digital tools for students, teachers, and administrators. As our tools and systems improve, we come closer to the ideal of an optimally individualized learning experience for each and every student.”

Indeed the latest data shows that our efforts towards improving student performance, empowering teachers, and providing the tools necessary for success are beginning to pay off.

Key findings of the 2015 Academic Report include:

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Report Shows Achievement and Innovation at New Mexico Virtual Academy

Today a white paper was released on New Mexico Virtual Academy (NMVA), highlighting academic success and innovation at New Mexico’s first statewide virtual charter school. You can read the full report, here.

Over the past few months, NMVA looked closely at programs and initiatives to better understand some of the many approaches that enabled our school to effectively build a strong foundation and achieve success over the last three school years.

We found that setting and maintaining high standards within our school community was a constant driver for strong teacher-student engagement, innovations in the classroom, and an increased emphasis on pathways after graduation.

For its inaugural 2012-2013 school year, NMVA achieved an overall accountability rating of a B grade, which we maintained through the following school year. 

In grades 3-8, the overall percentage of NMVA students at or above proficiency in Mathematics increased 9 percentage points. In 2013-2014, NMVA students scored higher than the state average in grades 6 and 8 in overall Mathematics proficiency. NMVA also students scored higher than the state average in grades 6 and 8 and equaled the state in grade 7 in overall Reading proficiency.

At NMVA we truly emphasize the importance of Individualized Learning Plans – customized programs to fit each student’s unique learning styles and aptitudes. Our focus on post-secondary initiatives guides upcoming seniors on paths toward college and universities using career counseling and future planning.

In coming weeks we will celebrate NMVA’s second graduating class -- we anticipate 22 graduates will walk across the stage on May 15, 2015. Many graduating seniors have already made post-secondary plans, including Juliet B. who plans to attend Regis University in the Fall after being awarded an academic scholarship. Juliet plans to pursue a doctorate in Physical Therapy and continue to play soccer through the university.