online education

Nate Davis's picture

The K12 Class of 2014

It is graduation season again.  This year, thousands of students will graduate from full-time online and blended schools powered by K12.  We’re seeing stories across the country about these impressive group of K12 graduates – kids preparing to head off to colleges and universities; students with inspiring stories who overcame great odds to earn a diploma.  Schools are hosting graduation ceremonies bringing together families throughout the state.  New schools are celebrating their first ever graduating class.  It’s an exciting time.

With diplomas in hand, these K12 graduates are ready to begin their next chapter in life. 

It is estimated there are currently over 300,000 students enrolled in full-time online schools across the U.S.  Add students enrolled in full-time blended schools and that figure expands. The number of students graduating from online and blended schools is also increasing as more students choose these innovative schools.  Last year, K12 online and blended schools graduated over 4,000 students. The class of 2014 is expected to be even bigger.

We have come so far.  Most of the students from the class of 2014 were born in the mid to late 90s. (Wow, that makes me feel old!)  At that time no parent could have predicted their son or daughter would eventually graduate from an accredited, full-time online high school.  Such a concept would have been laughable to most, but not today. Just imagine what education will look like for the next generation 18 years from now.

The students of K12’s class of 2014 are pioneers. They join other recent K12 graduates who chose the digital learning route over the traditional classroom model.  This bold spirit is precisely why I believe K12 students are at an advantage. 

Ashley Collier's picture

Announcing the Winners of the 2014 K12 International Spelling Bee

Students enrolled in K12 online school programs belong to a community of connected learners with a wide range of extracurricular clubs, programs, and school events. One such event is the K12 International Spelling Bee.

Over the past couple of months, K12 partner schools have hosted multiple local and regional spelling bees for students in grades 4 through 8, all leading up to the K12 International Spelling Bee. However, unlike traditional spelling bees, the K12 International Bee and most regional spelling bees were conducted entirely online.

Today we are proud to announce the K12 Regional and International Spelling Bee winners! 

2014 Spelling Bee Winners

From California to Dubai, students from roughly 23 online school programs participated in the virtual spelling bee. Using collaborative online platforms, students and judges logged on simultaneously to participate in the spelling bee. To ensure authenticity in the online setting, all student participants had a school-assigned individual onsite to proctor the contest. A panel of five judges determined whether words were spelled correctly and rules were upheld, while a Spell Master delivered and pronounced words for participants.

This year’s winning word was pandemonium.

“Each of these students genuinely deserves congratulations for their hard work.  We had some tough rounds, with some challenging words, and we are truly proud of all of the competitors,” said Sonja Howerton, K12 National Student Program Coordinator.   

Congratulations to all who participated in the K12 International Spelling Bee! 

Ashley Collier's picture

Announcing Insight School of Oklahoma

On Wednesday, The Board of Directors for the Insight School of Oklahoma announced the Fall 2014 opening of an innovative online public charter school – Insight School of Oklahoma. The school is authorized by the Statewide Virtual Charter Board and uses the nationally recognized curriculum and academic services provided by K12 Inc.

“The opening of Insight School of Oklahoma is a tremendous step forward in being able to provide quality education to countless Oklahoma students who may have struggled in traditional environments,” said DeAnna Gwatney, the Board President.

Insight School of Oklahoma is an online public school and open to all students, but will be focused on serving those who are academically at-risk and who may have struggled in traditional settings.

Students enrolled in the Insight School of Oklahoma will also engage in academic programs that they find relevant to their futures. The school will offer Career Pathways, a program that allows students to pursue a distinct academic pathway based on the national Career Cluster Model, which is designed to accommodate a student’s specific career interest and capabilities.

For more information, including a full listing of online and in-person events, please visit the school’s website: ok.insightschools.net

The nationally recognized academic curriculum, technology and support services provided by K12 will offer students a unique experience and environment. Through innovative technologies and web-based classrooms, certified Oklahoma teachers will work with the students and provide customized instruction, guidance and academic support.
 

Source: Insight School of Oklahoma, (2014). Insight School of Oklahoma Approved to Open Fall 2014.

Ashley Collier's picture

K12 Helps Launch New Online School in Michigan

Last week, The Board of Directors for the Insight School of Michigan in partnership with K12 Inc. announced the creation of a new online public charter school, Insight School of Michigan. The school will offer students in grades 6-12 an innovative education using engaging digital learning and individualized instruction.

To find out more information about Insight School of Michigan or to enroll, click here.

As a public school, Insight School of Michigan is open to all students in the state with an emphasis on serving academically at-risk students who have struggled in traditional school settings. The school’s instructional model and academic strategies will focus on putting every student on a path to earning their high school diploma.

“Insight School of Michigan is another example of how K12 is developing partnerships in communities to serve students, particularly those that are struggling in their education,” said Jennifer Sims, Vice President of School Services at K12. “Whether it be previously failing certain courses, missing school days, or feeling left behind, we are committed to providing individualized online learning options for those students seeking new school alternatives to help get them back on track.”

Certified Michigan teachers will provide instruction, guidance and support, and will interact regularly with students using innovative technology and web-based instruction. Teachers also provide small group instruction, remediation, and organize school activities, clubs, and events for students and families.

Insight School of Michigan is authorized by the Central Michigan University Board of Trustees, the state’s largest and most respected charter school authorizers.

"Every student in Michigan deserves access to a high quality education," said Cindy Schumacher, executive director of The Governor John Engler Center for Charter Schools at Central Michigan University. "CMU is excited to partner with Insight School of Michigan and to support their mission of helping students meet their individual potential."

Read the full release on Insight School of Michigan, here.
 

Source: Insight School of Michigan, (2014). Insight School of Michigan Approved to Open Fall 2014.

Mary Gifford's picture

Lessons from Texas: Parent Choice and Digital Learning

Last week, Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott announced the third plank of his education plan.  Abbott's plan calls for increasing access to online courses through the Texas Virtual School Network (TxVSN). The Texas Tribune calls the enrollment in this program "dismal" and Abbot acknowledges that after six years, only 2,400 part-time students are enrolled in the program. Students are currently limited to three online courses through the TxVSN, which equates to a maximum of 7,200 courses.

Let's compare the results of this meager program to the robust full-time online public schools in Texas which, during the same time period, have grown to serve approximately 12,000 full-time students, or 96,000 courses.

Mr. Abbot is quick to point out why TxVSN enrollments are so low: districts can deny students the opportunity to take courses and districts don't want to dedicate existing funds to providing online options for students. While districts' efforts to thwart parent choice are noted by Abbot, it’s worth pointing out how the state legislature has thrown three major roadblocks in front of parents wanting to choose full-time online public schools:

1)    The legislature imposed a moratorium on new full-time online public schools in 2013, in spite of enormous parent demand for these options.

2)    In 2009, the legislature added a prior-public school attendance requirement to any student who wants to attend a full-time online public school. This isn't just a little requirement - this is the most restrictive residency requirement in the country. Students must attend a Texas brick-and-mortar public school in the previous school year before they are eligible to attend an online public school. Given the economic development going on in Texas, thousands of new families who move to Texas for employment are restricted from enrolling their children in online public schools. 

3)    In 2009 the legislature added an attendance restriction for students whose parents are active duty members of the military. While other states, like Nevada, changed their laws to permit students from military families to seamlessly transfer from one online school to another when their parent's assignment changes, Texas instead created restrictions for military families.

Despite this, parents of Texas students found a way to overcome these challenges and enroll in a full-time online public school at a rate of 13 times more than enrollment in TxVSN courses.

Why do parents flock to full-time online public school options? Abbot hit on the most prevalent reason in his proposal: online education provides an opportunity to shift to a truly personalized education, rather than a system of courses based on seat time. Students in the Texas Online Preparatory School and Texas Virtual Academy benefit from individualized learning plans that give students and parents the exact type of personalization described in the proposal. 

Jeff Kwitowski's picture

Jeff Kwitowski, K12’s SVP of Corporate Communications, responds to NCAA’s notification of eligibility and lack of standards for digital courses

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a private membership-based organization, recently notified a number of schools affiliated with K12 Inc. that coursework from these schools will not be used in the initial-eligibility certification process for Division I and II athletics following the 2013-2014 school year. Eleven of the schools are part of a single network of schools in one state and two of the schools are full-time blended schools. All are approved public schools that meet state content and instructional time standards and graduation requirements. 

The individual schools impacted by this decision are currently waiting for the NCAA to provide the specific coursework they reviewed in making its decision. All schools have the option to appeal.

According to the NCAA’s revised legislation for nontraditional courses, students and instructors must have “ongoing access to one another” and “regular interaction” throughout the duration of the course. However NCAA does not provide schools any measurable standard or rubric used to determine what they believe is a suitable level of student-teacher interaction. Despite repeated requests, the NCAA will not publish specific student-teacher interaction guidelines for nontraditional courses, including online and digital courses.

These vague standards and unclear review process leave schools to only guess what passes NCAA’s eligibility test. This is a significant concern for all schools and districts that use digital learning programs.

In one case, the NCAA rescinded the eligibility of an accredited and state-approved online public school with over 5,000 students based on a review of old coursework from only two students, one of whom is a competitive diver and on the Dean’s List at a Division I school. Furthermore, the NCAA did not account for updated technology systems and new instructional models with increased student-teacher interaction.

K12 believes its teachers and courses meet NCAA standards. Teachers in K12-managed schools are state-certified and highly qualified. They have ongoing access and regular interaction with their students. Teachers provide direct instruction, evaluation, guidance and support to students, including direct instruction through real-time, web-based classes. In K12-managed blended schools, students gather together in a learning center every day to receive direct, face-to-face instruction with teachers – as is done in traditional schools.

Hundreds of student athletes have graduated from K12-affiliated schools and have been accepted into Division I and II colleges and universities. Many of these student athletes graduated with academic honors and continue to excel academically.  

Ashley Collier's picture

K12-TV: 2014 Academic Report

In this episode of K12-TV,  Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Margaret Jorgensen and leaders from K12's school services and education policy teams talk about the findings from our 2014 Academic Report and what that means for students, teachers and partner schools. Also, K12 Inc. Chairman and CEO Nate Davis sits down with Jeff Kwitowski to reaffirm K12’s commitment to putting student’s first and being accountable and transparent to the families we serve.

Check it out...

Related Resources

2014 Academic Report

Summary of 2014 Academic Report

Nate Davis on K12's unwavering commitment to Academic Achievement 

Nate Davis's picture

Our Unwavering Commitment to Academic Achievement

K12 has always been a mission-driven company.  We are an organization filled with educators who share a passion to serve the needs of all children.  Our culture is centered on serving families, students, and teachers.  It’s what makes K12 such a special place. Over the past year, K12 has rededicated itself to our core mission: putting students first and making their academic success foremost in everything we do.

To help every child achieve their educational goals, we need to first know who they are and where they are academically. That means we need to continuously collect data to assess where our students stand, and to find out what is working and where we must improve. And always, we must always be open, honest and transparent.

This was the goal of publishing our 2014 Academic Report. In my view, this report is the most in-depth and open assessment of overall academic performance in the schools K12 serves.  It shows K12 is committed to accountability and transparency, and that we are serious about academic improvement. 

Mary Gifford's picture

Responding to NEPC’s Virtual Schools Report – Part 2

By:  Mary Gifford and Jeff Kwitowski

In Part 1, we examined the NEPC’s data compared to data from K12-managed online public schools. Now, let’s look at NEPC’s recommendations.

It is clear that the NEPC remains unfamiliar with many of the reporting requirements, regulatory processes and operations of full-time online public schools.  Several of their recommendations are already addressed in state regulation or statute. In most cases, these recommendations are covered by charter school authorizing practices, annual external independent audits and reporting requirements to state departments of education.

Mary Gifford's picture

Responding to NEPC’s Virtual Schools Report – Part 1

By: Mary Gifford & Jeff Kwitowski

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), an organization largely funded by the nation’s most powerful teachers’ unions, recently released its annual "Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2014" paper. NEPC is well-known for its ideological opposition to charter schools and parent choice in education.

In this report, NEPC offers 16 recommendations. Five of the recommendations already exist within the regulatory/legal/authorizing guidelines in most states and two are not supported by data or research. Seven of the recommendations hold promise for improving the success of online schools and the individual success of the hundreds of thousands of students enrolled in these schools (More on these recommendations in Part 2 )

However, before these recommendations can be considered, it is important to examine the accuracy of data in the NEPC report. It is reasonable to assume that an advocacy organization like the NEPC would position data to advance their ideological views.

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