Saturday, June 9, 2012

New Jersey’s First Virtual Charter School

By Anwar's Reflections Guest Blogger Estelle Shumann

The importance of a quality education has prompted the New Jersey Virtual Academy School (NJVACS) to contract with the for-profit online education company, K- 12, Inc. to provide an online school alternative for the state. New Jersey has asked the company to come up with New Jersey’s first virtual charter school. Project visionaries see students learning from the comfort of their own homes. This learning project is due to begin during the fall of 2012.

According to K 12’s senior vice president, Peter Steward, K-12 is set to bring out new and valuable online learning opportunities to New Jersey students who are looking for an alternative to the traditional educational setting. He also noted that their company specializes in helping get students up to speed more efficiently than brick-and-mortar students, many of whom are normally a grade behind in their academic proficiency. He credits the online classroom’s better ability to teach students and sees growth in their learning. He thinks they will eventually become as proficient as their peers.

The virtual charter school program, which has already started recruiting students, has up to 300 students who have already showed interest in this program. Despite these virtual charter school recruiting figures, they are close to reaching capacity, because they only intend to recruit 850 students during their first year of their virtual school launch. This program will enable students to work hand in hand with potential teachers who might be next door or across the country and help their online students to realize higher grades and become more proficient learners.

New Jersey’s first virtual charter school project will have a more comprehensive educational impact on disaffected and un-reached students. It will encourage school drop-outs to continue with their education by offering them particular programs that will enable them to build on previously earned credits and finish their high school education. This virtual charter school will not be any different from any other online charter school because it will use the same standards and follow the same regulations as for state mandated K-12 curriculum requirements.

Although questions remain during the initial phases regarding various details, there are negations between K 12 and the Newark educational system and people are eager to find out whether the online charter schools will be given a go ahead to operate. While virtual schools are still being reviewed, Tim Nogueira, the Superintendent of the Monmouth Ocean Commission said that he is positive that these online schools are going to be in operation in the fall as per the indications from the meetings.

Online charter schools will be a new learning center that will have students from different parts of New Jersey interacting within the same medium. This is the first school project that K 12 has come up with and is unique to any other state. In fact, reports, have it being cheaper than a traditional cost for a brick and mortar school. It will only cost the district $10,000 per pupil for an online student, which is $3,000 less than a brick and mortar school.



  2. The New York Times has spent several months examining this idea, focusing on K12 Inc. A look at the company’s operations, based on interviews and a review of school finances and performance records, raises serious questions about whether K12 schools — and full-time online schools in general — benefit children or taxpayers, particularly as state education budgets are being slashed.

    Instead, a portrait emerges of a company that tries to squeeze profits from public school dollars by raising enrollment, increasing teacher workload and lowering standards.

    Current and former staff members of K12 Inc. schools say problems begin with intense recruitment efforts that fail to filter out students who are not suited for the program, which requires strong parental commitment and self-motivated students. Online schools typically are characterized by high rates of withdrawal.

    Teachers have had to take on more and more students, relaxing rigor and achievement along the way, according to interviews. While teachers do not have the burden of a full day of classes, they field questions from families, monitor students’ progress and review and grade schoolwork. There are complaints about low pay and high class loads — with some high school teachers managing more than 250 students.

  3. A Stanford University group, the Center for Research on Education Outcomes, tracked students in eight virtual schools in Pennsylvania, comparing them with similar students in regular schools. The study found that “in every subgroup, with significant effects, cyber charter performance is lower.”

  4. HVAC technicians who want to work in New Jersey are mandated by state to enrol in a school that offers training first. HVAC training in NJ