Jump to content

Menu

What's the good, bad, and the ugly of a K12 Virtual Academy?


Recommended Posts

The comments I have heard about the K12 virtual academies (this is second hand information) is that it is rigorous and pretty time-consuming, not allowing for a lot of flexibility or freedom. From my understanding, though, it is a good curriculum.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that it varies so considerably from state to state that it would really only be valuable info to you if it were specific to the VA of your choice. (one for which I have no info.)

 

But in general, your children would be public school students, and you would have to adhere to their rules. If that is okay with you, it could be a good fit. If the thought of someone else questioning your schedule makes you bristle, it may not be so good. :001_smile:

 

K12 is a great curriculum, but the VA's can be overwhelming for some people. Especially if you plan to enroll 3-4 children.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I feel like we need more structure - I need more accountability as a teacher. Something. It's just too easy right now to "play baby" or play outside or do just about anything than it is to do school. I thought maybe K-12 would be a way to have a pretty strict list of tasks to get done each day and we would know what we have to do.

 

This year, we're using MFW 1, which I do love - but it doesn't come with weekly spreadsheets; it's laid out day-by-day. I have really struggled with this format. I made my own weekly schedules just so I could see what we needed to do, and that's helped, but I've added in some things and I just need to make a checklist or something.

 

What's kept me from diving in to K12 is that I have 2 girls who are only a year apart in age, and I like that we can study a lot of topics together. I think K12 would make that less possible. Also, while I thought they would enjoy doing things on the computer, they don't seem to, when it comes to school. I tried to have them do Professor B math from the CD, and they both said they liked it better when I did it with them. They prefer interacting with me more, and while I know I would still be teaching them if we used K12, it seems less fun somehow.

 

I need to email the K12 people and see what they have to say about my concerns. I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The good: I think it's a very good, solid, program (I didn't like their math, though.) The virtual academy we were part of was very good about organizing frequent and fun field trips and outings for the kids.

 

The bad: Since you access the lessons online, you *must* have a very good internet connection. If the internet goes down (or your home network starts acting up, whatever) then poof! No more school until it's fixed. If you ever have computer problems, it becomes beyond frustrating.

 

It only gets ugly if you end up with a terrible assigned teacher. We were assigned to 3 very good teachers and one that wasn't so great. It could also get ugly if you're opposed to state testing. We always kind of enjoyed the testing, so that wasn't an issue for us.

 

Good luck! You can always try it out and move on to something else if you don't like it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The bad: Since you access the lessons online, you *must* have a very good internet connection. If the internet goes down (or your home network starts acting up, whatever) then poof! No more school until it's fixed. If you ever have computer problems, it becomes beyond frustrating

 

We are finishing up our 2nd straight year with K12 (through Arkansas Virtual Academy). For the lower grades many of the lessons are off line, so even if your system goes down you can generally find things to do off line. We have high speed internet cable and I can remember only going down a few times in 2 years, so I guess it could turn into a problem if your internet went down often.

 

As for the rest of my feelings on K12--yes...it is rigorous. That is a good thing though IMO. I do have to jump through a few hoops for the State of Arkansas, but to me compliance is very very easy. I have heard that this varies from state to state...and that Arkansas runs it well. It is a mastery program....meaning you aren't required to complete each and every worksheet, lesson and project. If you child 'masters' it....move on. No one has ever challenged me on this. *IF* we did everything, it would be overwhelming. But no one is looking over our shoulder making us do that.

 

As far as the curriculum...I love it. There have been one or two things I didn't agree with, but I would imagine you would have that with any curriculum...the fact that it is secular doesn't bother me...in fact I prefer it, because I teach my son religion as a way of life and don't want it taught by someone else.

 

Each state has its own rules but here is what Arkansas requires of us

 

1. Initial placement tests (not each year, just upon entrance to the program)

 

2. Phone conference with assigned teacher once every 2 weeks. Lasts about 15 minutes tops. (if you have no problems and comply with everything else they only conference with you once a month)

 

3. Work samples sent in 4 times a year. 6 math, 6 LA, 2 Science and 2 History each time.

 

4. Once a year state testing. For grades K-2 it amounts to 2 hours of testing completed in one morning. Ds8 did his on Wednesday of this week and finished in 1 hour and 10 minutes. Grades 3-8 have to go 4 or 5 (depending on grade level) mornings. 2 or 3 hours each morning.

 

5. Log time. They want an average of 6 hours each school day. However, this is NOT difficult because any time you don't spend on seat work can be supplemented with a undetailed category called 'supplemental' to reach your 6 hours.

 

We spend about 3 hours a day on seatwork. Except Fridays are lighter. I love the online school record keeping. At any time I can check our progress and see when we will finish up based upon our current rate.

 

If you have any other questions I'll be happy to answer them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks! This is helpful. I have talked to the national K12 people and they were very nice. I still have some questions for our local people. It's possible that I might be able to have my younger three on the same history and science, which would be great. I don't like people "in my business" too much, but at this point, the interaction with the ps doesn't feel too intrusive. Also, like a few of you, I could use a little bit of accountability. Finally, the cost factor is VERY attractive. Any more input?

 

:) Cindy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks! This is helpful. I have talked to the national K12 people and they were very nice. I still have some questions for our local people. It's possible that I might be able to have my younger three on the same history and science, which would be great. I don't like people "in my business" too much, but at this point, the interaction with the ps doesn't feel too intrusive. Also, like a few of you, I could use a little bit of accountability. Finally, the cost factor is VERY attractive. Any more input?

 

:) Cindy

 

Oh, yes the cost thing is atractive. Wow. They provide us with everthing...computer, printer even money toward internet connection! I do sometimes wish I could go off and do my own thing, BUT I then remember the curriculum overload I felt the first year when I was doing my own thing...and this way is so simple. The biggest reason I did it was to make my dh a little more agreeable to hs in general. He 'thinks' I am answering to the State. ;) Or at least he can tell his mother that. :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll give you the pros and cons, based on our experiences:

 

PROS: FREE curriculum and supplies, K12 is a thorough and challenging curriculum, OLS (online school) is awesome, having everything planned out for you is a definite plus, support teachers available if you need them, did I mention everything is FREE? :)

 

CONS: little to no flexibility in what you teach or WHEN you teach it, many VA's have a set calendar w/ set days off, field trips had to be run by the support teacher and approved, mandatory testing EVERY year and for us...testing site was over an hour away! :001_huh:, curriculum is set in stone...if your dc don't "fit" well w/ a particular book or method...you are stuck, some VA's are too "in your face", as one of ours was. I can't stand that. One of our VA's got to be too much like public school in my living room. I couldn't stand having to send in work samples every month (and one of our VA's had ridiculous requirements for work samples), teacher conferences 2x a month doesn't sound like a big deal but I really just wanted to be left alone unless I needed help/advice.

 

Well, that about does it. Our reason for ditching the VA was flexibility and independence. I wanted to be able to teach what I wanted and when I wanted. I wanted to choose the curriculum. Science in the upper grades got to be to "evolution" focused for us as did History. I wanted a curriculum that was from a Christian perspective. My dc got way burned out. There was a TON of work to do every day...even for my 2nd grader. Too much, if you ask me. You didn't have the option of "skipping" this subject or that. What was on the OLS, you did, or fell "behind". I got tired of the strict calendar. We couldn't just "take off" when we wanted. If I wanted to take a field trip...I had to have it approved. Anyway, I was a traditional hser at heart. I used the VA as a way of "getting our feet wet" and avoiding the rules and regs of PA hs laws, but soon realized that the trade-off wasn't worth it. I'd rather deal with the rules and regs than have a VA constantly in my face. YMMV...these were just my issues.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Cindy,

we use K12 with Nelson. Give me a call if you want to talk about it.

I use it with the younger girls, the older boy it wasn't great through high school (uses a different format) so we didn't consider it for him.

I have different opinions about different courses. As far as working with Nelson VA - piece of cake. I think they're awesome!

 

I'll be happy to tell you what I know.

If you know Lynn from the co-op she used K12 but not through a charter, and may have more info to add also.

We're in the phone book if you don't have my number.

Stephanie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

CONS: little to no flexibility in what you teach or WHEN you teach it, many VA's have a set calendar w/ set days off, field trips had to be run by the support teacher and approved, mandatory testing EVERY year and for us...testing site was over an hour away! :001_huh:, curriculum is set in stone...if your dc don't "fit" well w/ a particular book or method...you are stuck, some VA's are too "in your face", as one of ours was. I can't stand that. One of our VA's got to be too much like public school in my living room. I couldn't stand having to send in work samples every month (and one of our VA's had ridiculous requirements for work samples), teacher conferences 2x a month doesn't sound like a big deal but I really just wanted to be left alone unless I needed help/advice.

 

In AR there is a default calender and daily schedule, but we can change it to suit our life. In fact, we can school on the weekends even, but we have to record the time on a weekday. If I want a day off, I take it...I don't necessarily report it to my teacher. I can easily make it up the day before or the day after and just average out our hours on all the days--even the one where I technically was not even at home.

 

I'm glad our state is easy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Stephanie! I didn't realize you and Lynn were doing this. :) I've talked with Amy and have a bunch of questions out to her. I'm pretty close to committing to it for Piper, Cameron, and Josiah. Adelyn's interested, but I'm not sure that I'm ready for her to give up the co-op for science and for Rusty's class. She'll be in 7th grade next year. Thoughts? Do you know anything about the part-time option? Have y'all participated in any of the field trips?

 

Thanks!

Cindy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If I could have afforded just the art and history, maybe science, I'd have purchased it. It's good but I agree with others that it's not very flexible. They say this has improved but I'm skeptical at how flexible any program going through the public schools can really be. Purchased it's like any other program though.

 

It wasn't about to work for me. I too liked the idea of someone keeping me accountable - until someone really is. You have to be careful because this isn't checking in now and then and giving you pointers, this is direct monitoring of all you do. I was held hostage by the schedule. You could not stop and do a lesson of spelling over, you had to keep piling things on to ensure you don't "fall behind". My daughter needed more spelling help but they could not break up the rest of their language arts to let her do a lower level of just that. They wanted me to give her a lower level on the side and keep pushing her through the level she wasn't ready for.

 

The CSAP (Colorado) makes me chafe too. I think it even gives me hives. :tongue_smilie:

 

One last thing to note: My husband was going through unemployment and a lot of financial difficulty and the "free" stuff did seem like a great way to go but we need to remember something - there is no real free lunch. The schools cost a lot of money. They just don't cost more than you're paying already - at the moment. ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You have to be careful because this isn't checking in now and then and giving you pointers, this is direct monitoring of all you do. I was held hostage by the schedule. You could not stop and do a lesson of spelling over, you had to keep piling things on to ensure you don't "fall behind". My daughter needed more spelling help but they could not break up the rest of their language arts to let her do a lower level of just that. They wanted me to give her a lower level on the side and keep pushing her through the level she wasn't ready for.

 

I hate to sound like a broken record...but this has not been my experience AT ALL.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hate to sound like a broken record...but this has not been my experience AT ALL.

Well, remember, this was 5 years ago. I quit. Perhaps after the first wave of people who didn't even finish out the year, they made some alterations.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cindy,

Sorry to be unclear. Lynn used K12 independent but I'm sure she'd still have valuable advice about it. I don't think she loved the math but liked everything else. Amy otoh loves the math. Go figure (we don't use their math).

Anyway, I think K12 is great for the youngers especially. Phonics in lower grades can't be beat. Very thorough. Getting tough now that we're heading towards 2nd grade. The literature is super easy for my youngest (great reader) but the phonics is right on for her.

 

Didn't work for Adam because he felt there was waay too much busywork - too many worksheet type activities and he's very much not that type.

 

My 4th grader is finding their lit to be a bit "repetitive" in nature - read a story, do a journaling/comprehension type worksheet, do the next story. We're switching to SL for her but I may still sign up for K12 because the others subjects in LA work so well for her (vocab, spelling, comp, etc).

 

Their science is good, but I'd keep the co-op simply because I can't stand doing experiments myself so they don't happen as often as they should. However, the older my kids get the more they found the co-ops assignments "instrusive" to their schedules, especially Adam. The lapbooks put him right over the edge about co-op.:tongue_smilie:

 

We've only done K12 p/time. I couldn't handle full for any of them. Amy does but there's just no way for us - we add too much other stuff in.

I chose LA, sci, and art for both girls. It's definitely a help on our pursestrings but I don't like having to do what they assign. For instance, middle dd is very interested in missionary stories and we're beginnig SL Core 5 but we have K12 lit hanging over our heads.

 

We all love the art - I definitely want to continue with that.

 

We don't do big group field trips generally. I can't stand the confusion and the organization required, plus we so often like to do our own thing when we get somewhere. They have some good ones though, like the Nat'l Zoo coming up.

 

I'd say make it work for ya - pick the co-op classes your kids LOVE. Then add in those subjects where you need K12. We miss co-op but only for the added extras it provided to our week.

 

One thing, once you commit with Nelson, you now have to pay if you back out - ouch! Didn't use to be that way - but it's not that big of a deal to finish up. The oversight - virtually none. Nelson is very unobtrusive! Any more ? ask away.

Stephanie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stephanie, this is very helpfu! Okay, let me ask about PT. I coudn't find anything on the website about this. Am I just missing it? You can link me, or explain how it works - whichever is easiest for you. If you do it PT, do you have to take the SOLs? What is the maximum you can take and have it still be PT? We didn't do science or history at co-op this year and I'm very glad. I don't want to go back to co-op for those classes. Like you, the lapbooks were not going to happen with Josiah. All that cutting and pasting - there was just no way. It would have driven us both crazy.

 

I really like the co-op for the middle school classes - science, math, and writing, particularly. We had already planned on not having the little guys do it again this year. Even with me not teaching this year, so much of Monday was trying to get the assignments done for their classes.

 

Sara Maria will probably go to Covenant next year. Grace (9th) will and probably Adelyn (7th) will do one more year of co-op and then Grace will either go to Covenant too or start at PVCC. It is FUN being alonside them as they grow up and praying with them about God's direction for their lives!

 

Anyway, thanks for being so helpful!

 

:) Cindy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

curriculum though he was only 6. They sent 3rd grade and didn't take into account the maturity of a 6 year old. There isn't a lot of flexibility there if your child can handle different levels in different areas, and we homeschool moms are pretty used to hitting them right where they are at.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hate to sound like a broken record...but this has not been my experience AT ALL.

 

I think a lot depends on the teacher you are assigned to. Like I said... we had a few very good teachers, and things were fine.

 

The last one was more demanding, hadn't used the program herself, couldn't answer questions, and was very focused on us "not falling behind". She was not very understanding about computer problems and actually said that my excuse for not getting some things completed due to lack of internet accessibility was the same thing as saying "the dog ate my homework". :blink:

 

We were way ahead in the things we could do offline, but that didn't matter- we were behind in other things because our internet was down... and she kind of gave us a hard time about it. (She WAS new, and she hadn't used the program, so I'm sure some of this was just due to lack of understanding.)

 

Anyway. The Virtual Academies can be great if the program meets your needs. It's a very nice resource to have available.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like previous posters have said, some VA's are very flexible and easy to get along with. It really isn't about K12...K12 is a great curriculum hands-down and I think *most* would agree. My personal experience w/ the 2 VA's we were with also has a lot to do w/ my own personality and level of "accountability" I need/don't need, KWIM? I heard great stories of VA's in other states and wish PA had some like those! We had great teachers w/ both cybers but as hands-off as they were...they still had to follow the rules and our requirements were still the same.

 

If you find a good cyber that fits your needs and lifestyle it can be a great experience. For us, personally, it didn't quite fit what we wanted from our hsing experience, flexibility being the main issue. Like I said...YMMV! :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

P/T? Three class minimum. Any choice you want and you can have something like one child in art3 and another child in art3.

As for SOL's - they only take those in the year the ps kids take them - for instance, no science for 4th grade because it's only given in 3rd grade, but when she took 3rd grade K12 sci, she had to take 3rd grade sci SOL.

 

So you're putting the older into Covenant? Adam has two friends who transitioned there from homeschool - they're doing awesome and LOVE it. Mom doesn't seem so thrilled with social issues but that's a trade off I guess. We also have two friends who teach there and they're very happy with the way things are done. Best wishes with those decisions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't know where you could find the link for p/t. I just circled that choice on the sign up form.

Give Nelson a call, they're pretty good at calling back. There was rumor they wouldn't continue with P/t but I told them we were out if not. Maybe other families did too - but either way they decided to continue, at least this year.

 

Our year is sort of up in the air about continuing with K12 next year - love it, love the savings, hate the have to do the work part.

 

I didn't realize you weren't teaching = I'm sure they've missed you. You were loved! Gotta run, ball practice!

Steph

ps call me anytime you want, too bad we don't live closer - I'd love to get together

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the great input! Lots to weigh, lots to pray about. Stephanie, could you email me? I would love to connect and wish your were closer! That group that we did so many years ago is such a precious memory to me! I've switched computers and lost your email address. Here's mine, in case you don't have it:

 

C F i n l e y at e v e r g r e e n c h u r c h dot com

 

:) Cindy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...