Ashley Collier's picture

Weekly Roundup -- February 27, 2015

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

BERG: Pitts is wrong about Virtual Academy
(The Leaf Chronicle)

As the mother of a child who attends the Tennessee Virtual Academy, I take strong offense to Rep. Joe Pitts’ recent column (“Virtual Academy gets failing grades,” Page A5, Feb. 18). Pitts says TNVA is underperforming and needs to be closed. Yet, he fails to mention that TNVA is now one of the fastest-improving schools in the state. He also fails to mention there are more than 100 other schools in the state that are not improving as rapidly, with test scores very similar to TNVA – including Montgomery Central Middle School in his home county – that are not subject to closure.

Measuring Individual Student Progress Toward Graduation – Not a Four Year Cohort Rate
(thinkTANK)

In 2010 federal regulations went into effect that requires each state to implement a four-year cohort model as the means for calculating graduation rates. This regulation gives every student four years to graduate from the time a student enters ninth grade. Students may transfer from school to school during the four years, but the student must graduate in the fourth year. States are permitted to track a five-year graduation rate, but it can only be done alongside the four-year rate.

Fuel Education Releases Guide to Scaling Personalized Learning
(Press Release)

Personalized learning solutions provider, Fuel Education™, in association with education advocacy firm, Getting Smart®, today released a white paper exploring how schools and districts are not only implementing online and blended learning programs to address students’ individual needs, but also successfully scaling the personalized learning experience delivered through those programs.

Mary Gifford's picture

Measuring Individual Student Progress Toward Graduation - Not a Four Year Cohort Rate

The Impact of Under-Credited Students and Mobility in Fulltime Online Schools

In 2010 federal regulations went into effect that require each state to implement a four-year cohort model as the means for calculating graduation rates. This regulation gives every student four years to graduate from the time a student enters ninth grade. Students may transfer from school to school during the four years, but the student must graduate in the fourth year. States are permitted to track a five-year graduation rate, but it can only be done alongside the four-year rate.

This regulation had the goal of creating an expectation that every student can earn a high school diploma, and that graduation rates need to be tracked to show which schools are successfully graduating students in four years. The regulation assumed that students, generally, stay in the same school for four years and that states have systems to efficiently track students as they progress toward graduation.

While perhaps true in some economically advantaged communities, both of these assumptions are fundamentally flawed for far too many of our public schools. Instead, the regulation has created a “hot potato” effect that creates a perverse disincentive for enrolling under-credited students for fear of a negative impact on graduation rate.

States do have some flexibility. States may choose how to weigh graduation rates within their accountability structures.  States may elect to include additional calculations, such as six- or seven-year rates.  They may also reward methods of getting under-credited students back on track, or accelerating the pace at which a student moves toward graduation. These measurements may more accurately reflect what a school does with high school students more than a four-year cohort model. Data shows that many students who are mobile within high schools are often economically disadvantaged, under-credited, over-aged, and academically at-risk. A related report by the Evergreen Foundation (Accountability in the Digital Age, February 2015) looked at enrollment data for 24 fulltime online schools. In these schools, the report that found on average 35 percent of students who entered the schools in grade 10, 11 and 12 are not on track for graduation based on the four-year cohort rate.

Ashley Collier's picture

Weekly Roundup – February 20, 2015

Weekly Roundup is an effort to share more stories and information about the students and schools we serve, K12 educators, and important education issues. 

A Chattanooga Mom’s Plea to Keep Online Schools Open
(The Chattanoogan)

As a busy mom, it’s not often I make my way to our state Capitol to visit with my elected officials. But, last week, I had the chance to do just that as I took part in the Tennessee chapter of Public School Option’s 4th Annual Capitol Day. Joined by hundreds of families from all across the state, including many from here in the Chattanooga area, we traveled to Nashville to make our voices heard. As parents, we believe that we know the best when it comes to deciding the best possible type of education for our children. 

New Report Examines Improved Accountability Frameworks for Online Schools
(thinkTANK)

An important new report on online learning and accountability was released last week by Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning.  Titled, School Accountability in the Digital Age, the report was written and researched by John Watson and Larry Pape with Evergreen Education Group – nationally recognized experts in the field of online learning.

New Partnership Extends the Power of Online Learning to Special Education Students
(Press Release)

Across the country, schools and districts are leveraging digital learning to overcome staffing and resource challenges to improve outcomes and to address the many needs of their K-12 students—whether to expand course options, to provide assistance to those who need additional help, or to provide an alternative learning environment. Now, through a partnership between PresenceLearning and Fuel Education (FuelEd™), schools can use digital learning to address the needs of their special education students, too.   

Jeff Kwitowski's picture

New Report Examines Improved Accountability Frameworks for Online Schools

An important new report on online learning and accountability was released last week by Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning.  Titled, School Accountability in the Digital Age, the report was written and researched by John Watson and Larry Pape with Evergreen Education Group – nationally recognized experts in the field of online learning.

Online schools and traditional schools are very different, yet the standards and accountability frameworks used to measure performance are the same.  State education laws and regulations are generally designed for the brick-and-mortar school and classroom-based model.  Like trying to jam a square peg into a round hole, these legal and regulatory frameworks often do not mesh well with online schools.  Even worse, they risk producing an incomplete, and sometimes inaccurate, picture of the real quality and performance of online public schools, especially on the effectiveness of educating transfer students who move from a local public school to an online school. 

Policymakers are left to grapple with the question:  what are the best accountability frameworks to use for online schools?   This report takes a big step toward answering that question by outlining 8 policy recommendations:

1.       Credit schools with graduating students in five or six years.

2.       Measure students’ progress towards graduation, especially for situations in which students switch schools.

3.       Change funding mechanisms to systems that minimize the impact of high student mobility.

4.       Publish data on student mobility for all schools, and consider creating a designation specific to schools with high rates of student mobility, regardless of other student demographic factors.

5.       Require separate reporting on online programs so that online student outcomes can be tracked.

Ashley Collier's picture

Weekly Roundup

In an effort to share more stories and information, we at thinkTANK will begin a Friday series called, “Weekly Roundup.” We hope you’ll learn more information about the students and schools we serve, K12 educators, and important education issues.

Check these out! 

Virtual Charter Schools Coming to NC
(Press Release)

Last week, K12 announces a partnership with North Carolina Learns, Inc. to operate the state’s newest virtual charter schools. The North Carolina Virtual Academy (NCVA) will be a first-of-its kind online public school.

Teaching in a Virtual Reality
(Battle Creek Enquirer)

Features Spencer Kahly, a teacher at Michigan Great Lakes Virtual Academy, who shares how becoming an online teacher has helped him cope with epilepsy.

Online public schools are a lifeline for students
(The Tennessean)

TN Public School Option leader and parent, Cathy Berg writes that the Tennessee state legislators take swift action to renew the Tennessee Virtual School Act to protect online school options in the state for the many families that need the option.

Hundreds Rally at Capitol In Nashville To Save Online Public Schools
(The Chattanoogan)

Under threat of closure, more than 400 parents, students and educators descended on the state Capitol to express their support for protecting the right of parents to choose the school that works best for their children, including the Tennessee Virtual Academy, a full-time online public school offered through Union County Public Schools. 

Maine Virtual Academy Approved to Open
(Press Release)

Maine Virtual Academy (MEVA), a statewide online public charter school, was approved today by the Maine Charter School Commission. The new online school will open next school year and serve students in grades 7-12 throughout the state.

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