online education

K12 Inc.'s picture

GCA Robotics Whiz to Get Hands-On Training at College

GCA student Mathew Spellman shows off his robotics collection

While some kids want nothing to do with intellectual pursuits during the summer months, Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA) 9th grader Mathew Spellman will head to robotics camp for a week at Lake Superior State University.

“Mathew is very excited to get hands-on experience with real-life robotics in research and development,” Rose Mary Spellman, Mathew’s mother, said. He will work on small group projects in the robotics lab at Lake Superior State University with professors and graduate students there.

Gina Warren's picture

Standardized Testing for Virtual Students

Standardized testing is simply a part of educating students in the world of data-driven instruction.  For a student that typically schools from the comfort and security of their own home, as the majority of our students do, that task can be a bit overwhelming.  Having been a test site coordinator at LAVCA, I have seen this on our students’ faces often as they entered our testing sites.   While we have always strived to make our students feel safe and secure, this year our team truly refined our strategies. 

Our children come to us for so many reasons.  Traditional school settings have not worked for them and often the reasons relate closely to the testing environment that we have to create during state testing.  Students are required to arrive on a schedule, work in large groups and complete tasks with, in some cases, strict time limits.   Additionally, our children sometimes face challenges that include not knowing the person that is administering the assessment for their group, not knowing any of the other students in their respective groups and they may have previous experiences that cause additional fear or anxiety that brought them to us initially. 

K12 Inc.'s picture

Michigan Virtual Charter Academy's Eighth Grade Novelist

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Ganna and her second book, Scribblers

Right now, most eighth grade students are gearing up for high school. Not publishing their second novel.  

But Michigan Virtual Charter Academy’s Ganna Omar isn’t your typical eighth grade student.  

 

“I started getting serious about writing when I was eleven years old, but I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was nine.”  Now thirteen, her second book, entitled ‘Scribbles’, was released in April 2016 via CreateSpace publishing, and is available through Amazon.  

 

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GCA Rising Star to Sing National Anthem at Major League Baseball Game

Chloe performs in “Crazy for You”, a Gershwin musical. Photo courtesy of  the Orbit Arts Academy

An entire stadium of energized baseball fans will be abuzz as Georgia Cyber Academy 11th grader Chloe McSwain performs the National Anthem at an Atlanta Braves game on July 15th! Chloe is well-prepared, as she sang a gorgeous rendition of the song at last month’s graduation.

“GCA’s graduation was the first time Chloe actually sang the National Anthem for a large crowd and it was extremely well-received,” said her mother, Tiffany McSwain. “Chloe also got to meet GCA’s Head of School, Matt Arkin, and the Lt. Governor of Georgia, Casey Cagle, who delivered commencement remarks.”

Chloe knew back in the third grade that a traditional brick and mortar school wasn’t the right fit. She and Tiffany agreed Chloe needed an alternative option so she could focus on academics while still being able to pursue her performing arts passion.  Chloe began school with GCA in the 4th grade.

In order to reach her goal of being admitted into a performing arts academy following high school, Chloe must be accepted both academically and musically. For this reason, Chloe must be accomplished in both academics and art. She needs to strike a careful balance between both. This makes online schooling an outstanding option.

K12 Inc.'s picture

Catching Up with IDVA Valedictorian and White House Science Fair Honoree Olivia Thomas

IDVA Valedictorian Olivia Thomas is all smiles as she delivers her graduation speech

Between graduating as Valedictorian and presenting her self-designed videogame in the White House Red Room, Idaho Virtual Academy’s (IDVA’s) Olivia Thomas has had quite a momentous year!

Olivia started on her road to the top of her IDVA class in the 1st grade, and has loved her schooling every day since. After just a few weeks into 1st grade at her former brick and mortar school, Olivia was bored and needed a more involved and stimulating education. “I knew she had a lot of potential and I wanted her to be challenged,” Trish Thomas, Olivia’s mother, said. “The K12 curriculum was extremely rich and it just worked.”

Fast forward twelve years later and Olivia delivered her Valedictorian address in three separate locations surrounded by the peers she’s grown close with, while attending school virtually.

Mary Gifford's picture

Let’s Get Some Context and Real Reform Around Charter School Graduation Rates

There’s been much commentary following the release of the latest GradNation report, particularly among charter school leaders.

The report notes a wide disparity in graduation rates among charter schools and calls out Alternative Education Campuses (AECs) and online schools for their low graduation rates, which led to some admonishments from others within the charter sector.

Before we get too judgmental, let’s remember that the federal government’s four-year cohort graduation rate was built for a traditional school model.

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OHVA Olympic Hopeful Prepares for a Busy Summer

    

The time commitment and drive it takes to train with former Olympic figure skaters would intimidate most people, but Cienna Baka takes on the challenge with ease.  She is able to do this because of the flexible schedule that online education provides.  Cienna is a 10th grade student at Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA) who has dedicated her life to ice skating competitively. 

Since she was six years old, Cienna has always been training on the ice or traveling constantly for competitions. Her schedule is so busy that her entire family operates around it. With such a huge time commitment to her ice skating, this would prove to make going to a brick-and-mortar school a difficult task. This is what led her family to distance education.

Ohio Virtual Academy provided such an accommodating schedule for Cienna that she can do her work or communicate with her teachers easily at the ice skating rink or even on the road. Cienna now balances her year-round ice skating, traveling, and school work effortlessly since she enrolled in the virtual school. 

Gina Warren's picture

Capitol Day at LAVCA

I am so very proud of my school!  I have been teaching for about 17 years and am not sure if I have ever felt such pride for any other school I have worked in, despite them all being wonderful places, than I feel right now for Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy (LAVCA).  

LAVCA is something very special and dear to me and that feeling is contagious!  I have been with the school since we launched five years ago and have seen what amazing things can happen by allowing educators to have input on what we do every day—teach!  We have a hashtag at our school that many use and we take it quite seriously— #LAVCApride. We are full of pride for the best virtual school in Louisiana and the most dedicated staff I have ever worked alongside!

This past Wednesday our school’s teachers and students, in conjunction with Public School Options (PSO) Louisiana chapter members, met at our state capitol in Baton Rouge. We made sure our voices were heard concerning the importance of school choice and specifically the importance and relevance of LAVCA.  This event is not a new one, but has taken on more significance this year as we strive to educate our lawmakers on the impact our school has on the children we serve and their families.  This is so important, because three bills have been introduced in the state legislature that could possibly end or restructure the program that we have worked so hard to create for our families. 

Jeff Kwitowski's picture

State Testing & Online Schools: What You Probably Never Knew

It’s spring—the season of warm days, blooming flowers, budding trees…and state tests.

In many states, however, this testing season has felt more like a cold and damp winter.  Delays, cancellations, and other well-documented testing mishaps have soured the mood of parents and educators, and provided much fodder for critics of state tests.

Alaska cancelled its tests outright after its testing platform collapsed.  Kansas, which used the same assessment provider as Alaska, had multiple testing delays after experiencing similar technical issues.  Problems in Texas, Nevada, and New York have also been reported.  The Indiana legislature recently scrapped its controversial ISTEP tests after several snafus.  Last year, testing problems plagued officials in Minnesota, Georgia, Florida, and other states.

Perhaps the most well-known testing flop in 2016 occurred in Tennessee.  The state’s not-so-aptly named TNReady test turned out not to be ready at all after a series of technical failures caused the state to order schools to abruptly stop the computer-based version and switch to the paper-based version, resulting in widespread cancellations and delays, not to mention a complete loss of faith in TNReady’s results.  Parents, teachers, and district officials are urging the Education Commissioner and the Governor to cancel part two of the TNReady exams and start fresh next year, or at least exclude this year’s tests from being used for teacher, district, and school accountability.

In most instances when testing problems occur, state department of education officials simply instruct all schools and districts to stop testing and shift to a normal instructional day.  After the TNReady testing platform imploded in Tennessee, the Commissioner of Education emailed district directors with the following instruction:

“At this time, we are advising that schools experiencing problems with the test discontinue testing, and return to their normal classes. Please do not begin any new additional testing you had planned for today until the department provides further information.”

“Return to their normal classes.”  That makes sense.  After all, the normal daily routine for traditional schools is basically the same:  students get on buses, go to their assigned schools, and report to their classrooms, whether for instruction or state testing. 

Not so for online public schools.  There is absolutely nothing normal or routine when online schools students take state tests.  In fact, I bet most people have no idea what online schools must do to fulfil the state-mandated testing requirements.

Jeff Kwitowski's picture

Why Online Charter Schools Matter – Reason # 219,737

Excerpt from The Advocate (Louisiana):

A couple of years ago, Macie Zoble and her son were in crisis.

The Lafayette woman had done everything in her power to keep Riley, then a kindergartner, stable enough to simply finish a traditional school day.

To combat his severe type of bipolar disorder — which mimicked attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and set teachers on edge — the round-cheeked child had been fed high doses of psychotropic drugs, only for Zoble to learn later that he metabolized them too rapidly for them to matter.

He’d been assigned a special learning plan — aimed at keeping students with such difficulties in the classroom — but with an administrator-mandated 10:30 a.m. pickup time, it barely kept him in school at all.

When nothing worked, she pulled him out of school. She quit her job.

Enter Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy.

“It changed our lives. Completely,” Zoble said, tears running down her face.

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