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