Tuesday, February 28, 2017

March Board of Ed: TEC Academy

"certificate" not "charter" under state law
law changed due to recommendations of Board
virtual schools fairly new in Massachusetts
"nationally, the performance of virtual schools is decidedly mixed at best"
has proposed refinements to virtual schools "including tuition"
TEC has "made some good progress" in its short life
learning about which students are attracted to virtual schools
"This virtual school doesn't have a great graduation rate, but that doesn't deter me from recommending" its renewal
Two conditions on renewal:
requiring all students to participate in state assessment
school needs better plan than currently to serve ELL students

TEC presentation: students are more likely to have a history of low achievement, have repeated a grade, have a history of low attendance, of being truant, of being suspended
also have high-achieving students, aspiring athletes, performers in the arts
more likely to be economically disadvantage than their brick and mortar peers
growing numbers in special ed and in ELL students
Why? Dissatisfied with local school, greater flexibility, want to be more involved
high mobility rate of students; less than half enrolled all year
26.8% moved in; 29.2% moved out (half of those to an in-state public school)
most leave for want of a traditional school setting or for insufficient home support
TEC doing a lot of work with families around support for student learning

Chester: do we know where they're coming from?
majority are coming from traditional school; 20% from homeschooling
often an experience with school
military program or medical issues
currently financing is $6625 charged to sending district
"piggybacked off school claim process...netted off aid similar to school choice and charter tuition"
"but I think this is a topic for future discussion"
Sagan: see as a work in progress
school applied for a computer-based testing waiver; have to come to a central location for security reasons
"quite a logistical challenge"
school has to arrange for transportation as well
less than 90% overall; subgroups also below requiring
Greenfield Virtual had a similar experience, have been able to raise it
Sagan: could they take MCAS in their sending district?
Could, but so many are with us because they have intimidation around going back into the building
student withdrew; resources are now allocated to you from sending superintendent
concern around ELL students: fast-growing population
have made motions to add program; adding staff
Q: is it live learning? Videos?
lessons are "pre-populated" on student's planning
teachers do a live lesson; chat pods, breakout pods
students have to watch lessons; every other week with homeroom teachers
students have to do 28 hours a week; parents verify
no time constraints on when
Peyser: average length of time students are in school?
students who are up for six or ten weeks for hockey camp or ballet season; they then withdraw and go back to their home districts in another state
boy, does that raise a finance question! 
renewal passes

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