Have it your way...Idaho Virtual Academies offers alternative education option
In a world where everything seems made to order, why not education?
Kelly Roush, Idaho Virtual Academy teacher, explained how the newest state of the art education option is working for over 1,800 children in Idaho.
If you feel your child's education could benefit from a flexibile work schedule, an adaptable curriculum specifically designed to meet his or her needs, and if you aren’t afraid of high tech, or you feel the fear and do it anyway, then the Idaho Virtual Academy may be the school for your child(ren).
At a recent information session, held at the Boundary County Community Library, Kelly Rosch, Academy teacher, explained how the newest state-of-the-art education option is working for over 1,800 school-aged children in Idaho who have enrolled this year, all attending from home.
The purpose of the Academy, according to Kelly, is to empower parents with a rigorous curriculum, and the hallmark of the Academy is to meet the needs of students where they are. Kelly explained how parents easily diversify the curriculum to their child’s academic needs in each subject area through early student placement tests provided by the school.
The Academy is a public charter school, tuition free, and available, on-line, to all families in Idaho with school age children said Kelly, who is the certified elementary educator for the Boundary County area. Two Academy educators serve the Sandpoint area and five meet the educational needs of the Academy students in the Coeur d’ Alene she said.
The benefits of the new fangled system include flexible options for families whose travel schedule may not match the traditional nine-month school year and/or whose student benefits from a more individualized program and one-on-one instruction. Once parents enroll their student(s) in the online program, they can set their student’s schedule and select off line and on line self paced curriculum adapted specifically for their child.
Kelly said Academy families take holidays and breaks when they find it convenient, and that 900 hours of attendance, each year, is all that is required for elementary students grades one through nine. “It’s like a year round school,” said Kelly, “Students can start in July if they like and take a month off for travel over their own holiday schedule if that’s what the family chooses to do.”
The Idaho Virtual Academy is a an on line public school providing curriculum, teachers, and accountability through state testing and attendance requirements.
In addition, the on line academy is meeting the need for flexible and individualized education to a higher percentage of students with special needs than the traditional schools; as well as meeting the needs of many Homeschoolers and gifted and talented students she said.
To increase accessibility to the Academy, all enrolled students receive a free desktop computer, printer, Internet connection reimbursement, along with the off line and on line curriculum which includes science equipment, math manipulatives, text books, workbooks, art and music supplies and more said Kelly.
According to Kelly, what makes the Academy different, and, for some, preferable to homeschooling, is that the Academy is a public school providing curriculum, teachers, and accountability through state testing and attendance requirements.
Parents, who choose to assume the responsibility for supervising their child’s education from home through the Academy, receive free tech support for all the computer hardware and software concerns they might have and a guaranteed 24-hour turn around telephone access to a certified educator, said Kelly.
Kelly also said the home based curriculum requires one meeting per month, by telephone, with the assigned teacher who also has access to student performance records kept through their on line work.
The Academy uses the K12 Inc. curriculum, which meets the highest standards around the country, and was developed through research, according to Kelly, who also said the curriculum utilizes the mastery educational method; meaning the student does not move to the next level until achieving an 80 percent or better success rate on work attempted. She added, students have a variety of resources available through the Academy to help them meet the academic mastery objectives.
All teachers at the Academy are Idaho State certified and are a resource to the parent, who can call teachers for questions, said Kelly. Teachers also proctor the state testing, conduct group outings; provide academic workshops such as writing workshops, preparation workshops, and workshops to let the parents get together for support.
Parents attended an information session at the Boundary County Community Library, where they learned about the public charter school option to educate their child(ren) at home through the on line Idaho Virtual Academy.
Parents, who enroll their students in the Academy program, take their child’s education seriously and commit to provide four to five hours per day with their student, consistently log progress and attendance, provide some additional prep time, bring their students to state required testing on prearranged dates, and meet once per month by telephone with the child’s teacher.
The Academy’s responsibilities include providing teacher administrative support, customer care, mentor support, social activities and outings, references to Yahoo email groups, recommended reading lists, and a tutorial startup guide, and the equipment and curriculum.
According to Kelly, the Academy is a state certified alternative program to the traditional schoolhouse and receives its funding through the Idaho State Department of Education revenues from state and federal taxpayer dollars and not through local property taxes. In addition, the teacher proctored testing, provided by the Academy, is the same as required in all public schools in Idaho and teachers submit student reports. “We are a public school so we provide parents with student progress reports in January and at the end of year,” said Kelly.
The Academy concept began four years ago in Idaho, with a group of home school parents using the K12 Inc. curriculum said Kelly and one year later, the group became a chartered school in the State of Idaho, which is now under the leadership of Cody Claver, head of school.
Enrollment is open, on line, now to all interested participants said Kelly and can be accessed at Idaho Virtual Academy
Interested individuals can email Kelly with their questions through June 17 at Kelly Roush or telephone the Academy at 866-512-2273.