Poor Performance Could End Tennessee’s Test Of First Online Public School

(Memphis) Second-grader Casey Ubiarco iis one of the 300 West Tennessee students enrolled in Tennessee Virtual Academy, also known as TNVA.

Casey logs into classes daily from home using a laptop, and the teachers go over lessons just like they would in a classroom.

“I’ve watched TNVA and I love this school and I would recommend it to anybody but it is not for everybody,” said his mother, Katherine Ubiarco.

Ubiarco’s family is part of the state’s first and only online public school.

She enrolled her daughter to keep her from being bullied.

Her son, Casey, has special needs.

“They’ve got good teachers. I’ve got back up. If I’m not getting what I’m trying to teach across, I can go to a teacher and say I need some help,” said Ubiarco.

However, there are some strong critics in the legislature.

As a group, TNVA students made less progress in reading, math, and other basic subjects compared to students in traditional Tennessee schools.

It ranks in the bottom 11 percent of public schools in the state.

Some say they need to see change immediately.

“While I am willing to be innovative. I am willing to think outside the box. I’m willing to do all of this but when we see is something is not performing. I am not willing to continue to throw money at losing projects,” said TN Rep. John Deberry.

Deberry says TNVA was born out of the desire to improve education because so many Tennessee schools are failing.

When asked how long it had to improve, Deberry responded immediately.

He added, “I think they need to have it immediately right. we can’t lose. If a child is involved in a particular program for 2 years, that’s two years of that child’s life.”

Ubiarco wants the online school to have more time.

She said, “Most schools in Tennessee didn’t do well and you’re taking a school that’s been around basically as of last year, one complete school year and you’re expecting them to out perform schools that have been around for years. That seems a little ridiculous to me.”

The company that owns Tennessee Virtual Academy is K12.

It’s under fire in other states for students not showing enough progress.

Its executives argue often students come to them behind and they need time to prove online public schools can work.

This East Memphis mom has faith in them.

“Evidently brick and mortar is not working or overall world wide scores would be a lot higher. So, are we going to make brick and mortars go away because it’s not working,” questioned Ubiarco.

The legislature is likely to take up TNVA again and decide its fate before this legislative session ends this spring.

11 comments

  • Ruby williams

    This seems interesting to me. I wonder if this is available in my state of MO. My son has autism and HATES school. I agree with the mother, the system needs more time. I’m sure the school and teacher(s) are getting paid for this. Or would they rather for us parents to just pull the children out of public schools and homeschool them…I’m really considering the latter route.

    • Susan Neuhauser

      I’m raising a (2nd grade) grandson who was dx’ed with autism in ’08. He was not doing well in the brick and mortar school, and in fact, got off the bus one day with a bruised face caused by the substitute teacher in the Behavioral Modification Class in which they had stuck him. Where, I might add, he had learned absolutely nothing in 6 weeks.

      The schools are not prepared to deal with autistic students, particularly at the rate at which they are acquiring them.

      I like K12. My grandson isn’t easy to teach, but he is getting a thorough education through the TNVA curriculum. TNVA was a gift from God for us; I was researching homeschooling when it popped up on my Google search. It’s a nice hybrid.

      This is his third year attending TNVA. He is currently reading at a 3rd grade level and is advanced in Math. He loves History & Science, and is learning musical theory. The art program is awesome. (He is only enthusiastic about doing History and Science, however. Just to keep it honest. ;) )

      You get out of it what you put into it, and we put a lot into it. I think there are probably parents who do not put a lot into it, and it is also true that the brick and mortar schools strongly encourage the parents of the students in their schools who are not doing well to consider TNVA. This is not fair to the students who really need this alternative.

      Sorry, didn’t mean to climb on my soapbox, just wanted to respond as someone who is dealing with a child on the spectrum.

  • Ken

    It is true that many of these students are failing in the traditional schools before they enter into the program. Studies have shown that students who stay in an online program for two or more years show significant improvement. Parents need choices, other than paying for a private or having to only go to the local brick and mortar schools.

  • Robby

    My wife is a TNVA teacher and my youngest is a student in 5th grade. This is a wonderful school that is helping lots of students from gifted , average to struggling. They have lots of students who were falling thru the cracks in brick and mortar that they are helping, including our son. It takes time to make up the gaps that these students come to TNVA with. My concern is that we tend to do away with something that is good because districts want numbers for the money it brings in per pupil. This program works and we can testify to that. My wife was a teacher in brick and mortar for over 14 years and she left to see education matter again. Why not let TNVA be an option?

  • michelle freeman

    Let TNVA stay an Option my daughter is 7 yrs old and we are with TNVA and she is doing much better than when she was in the Brick and Mortar School and her grades are wonderful and she loves her teacher

  • Jim Barteck

    1. K12 doesn’t own TNVA. TNVA is “owned” and operated by Union County. It subcontracts out the curriculum to K12. The opposition to TNVA is purely a political movement run by the Democratic Party on behalf of teachers’ unions who are upset that they don’t control it.

    When these politicians claim that they are willing to be “innovative,” they are flat out lying. Their idea of “innovation” begins and ends with any system that remains under the control of teachers unions. Nothing else is acceptable.

    We have been to a meeting of their fake front group “Save Our Schools,” and they blatantly admitted that they didn’t care what the test scores of the children were and that their end goal was to shut the school down. We asked what compromises they would accept, but over and over again they reiterated that nothing less than shutting the school down would satisfy them.

    So why does TNVA *really* struggle with test scores? Because the majority of its students have already been failed by the brick-and-mortar school system they came from. Many of these students are special needs, were bullied, were left behind or failed by the system. That’s why their parents felt the need to look for an alternative in the first place. If they had been well-served by the very system the Democratic Party wants to force them back into, they wouldn’t have sought out TNVA in the first place.

    The Democratic Party knows this. The teachers’ unions know this. THEY. DON’T CARE. What they care about is raw political power, and that’s what this “debate” is all about. They want the tax dollars to continue feeding the coffers of union officials and Democratic politicians. They have spent decades failing to properly educate our children, and they are scared that there may exist an alternative to their monopoly over the wallets of taxpayers and the minds of the students. Nothing more and nothing less.

    We are parents of a TNVA student in her second year. She is absolutely thriving. She is six years old and almost completed with the 4th grade curriculum. Because of TNVA’s unique mastery-based system, she will be able to start 5th grade work within the next couple of weeks. Her teachers are Tennessee-certified teachers who have gone out of their way time and time again to make sure she is able to learn at her own pace and is supported with whatever she needs.

    It’s ironic that politicians from the Memphis area – a city whose schools were so dreadful that the city gave up their charter entirely – are trying to lead this fight against TNVA. It only goes to show just how fundamentally unserious they are about educating our kids. If they actually were serious, they’d be taking care of business in their own backyards rather than picking fights in someone else’s neighborhood.

  • Carolyn Whitehead Park

    TNVA is not the only online public school. Also, I agree with Jim Barteck’s views listed above, which I am pasting a portion of here. I believe so strongly it merits repeating. “The opposition to TNVA is purely a political movement run by the Democratic Party on behalf of teachers’ unions who are upset that they don’t control it.

    When these politicians claim that they are willing to be “innovative,” they are flat out lying. Their idea of “innovation” begins and ends with any system that remains under the control of teachers unions. Nothing else is acceptable.

    We have been to a meeting of their fake front group “Save Our Schools,” and they blatantly admitted that they didn’t care what the test scores of the children were and that their end goal was to shut the school down. We asked what compromises they would accept, but over and over again they reiterated that nothing less than shutting the school down would satisfy them.

    So why does TNVA *really* struggle with test scores? Because the majority of its students have already been failed by the brick-and-mortar school system they came from. Many of these students are special needs, were bullied, were left behind or failed by the system. That’s why their parents felt the need to look for an alternative in the first place. If they had been well-served by the very system the Democratic Party wants to force them back into, they wouldn’t have sought out TNVA in the first place.”

  • Emily Davault

    While in Louisiana visiting, I was able to take my granddaughter who is a k12 student and who is excelling in k12 TN VA. so while I was there my daughter wanted me to try and get my other grand daughter into k12 LA.
    They have more than 5 in their state and because it is doing so well they have a wait list of students trying to get in. Many parishes have opened their own k12 for kids just in their parish. because they were losing so many to K12 LA. In Lafayette Parish. we had to choose a straight home school option for my grand daughter because they are only accepting higher achievers (my grand daughter is behind because her diabetes and missing so many days ) we will try again first of next year to get her in. If this option is taken away in Tennessee I feel it would be a huge mistake on the part of legislation because they are not seeing the failure of brick and mortar and giving those of us who Are actually trying to help it succeed enough time to prove it is one of the best options for some students. I do agree however that this option is not for everyone just those parents who are serious about the future of their children’s education! K12 DOES WORK …maybe they should try and test them the way they learn online rather than force them to conform to the same testing as brick and motor schools!!!

  • Michelle

    Closing this school would devastate so many children and parents on more levels than one. My son has been enrolled at TNVA for 2 years now. His needs were being overlooked at his previous school. The teacher was sending his work home ever day because he was not completing it or getting the help he needed to understand it. He was just falling behind and no one was helping him. He has learned so much and is thriving since being at K12. I do not care what any test score says…I know without a doubt that this school has helped my son tremendously and he is thriving like never before. Yes, this school takes dedication from both parent and student and it is a lot more work than face to face learning. However, the time that parents can spend actually teaching their children and knowing that these children are learning…. this is priceless. No brick and mortar school could ever match that.

Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 11,069 other followers