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If you've used a public virtual charter school, what was your experience like?


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NC is offering a virtual public charter via K12 this year for the first time. My dd13 was homeschooled through 6th and is in a B&M public charter school for 7th. She is doing great, but she really wants to be homeschooled again. I work FT and my dh is the mostly stay-at-home parent, but he's had a potential business opportunity drop in his lap and wants to go for it. Even if he continued to be a stay-at-home parent, he really doesn't want to homeschool high school for several reasons that I understand and don't disagree with. I see the virtual school as a possible perfect compromise, but so far, he isn't enthused. I think for grades 8-12, dd will not need any more help with homework than she already does, and having her do school at home will improve the flexibility in his schedule, so I don't understand his reticence.

 

Anyway, if you've used a virtual charter, your experience will help us weigh whether this is an opportunity that we want to take advantage of. Thanks!

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I used it for 7th grade. You are correct that you are not really doing the teaching anymore at that age. What I found difficult was keeping my kids focused on the lessons and roaming around not the computer. If you don't think that will be a problem for your dd, then it will probably be a good fit in your case.

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I did it (a different one) my first year-- I didn't like it.  It is public school at home, which is a great thing for some people (just not me).

 

We had a LOT of reading on the computer, a lot of computer programs (math, science, history)  it was tiring for her eyes and she thought it was boring (not like having an energetic teacher and then follow up reading later).   I found that a lot of the work didn't come with teacher's manuals so I couldn't help with the homework (just like a b&m school--one of the reasons we started to homeschool was so I could understand the lesson enough to help with homework). 

 

And for some reason, my children don't remember stuff they learn on the computer (unless they do it several times-- we don't use TT for this reason). 

I am not anti online PS--- it just didn't work for us.

 

 

I did know another mother that had two children in the program-- it really worked for her-- her children did the school online during the day and she helped when she got home that night--

 

 

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I suggest you read reviews on HomeSchoolReviews. This will vary greatly from state to state. If you try this, much GL to you!

 

The reviews are very mixed.  :closedeyes: But that's to be expected, I'm sure.

 

A lot of the negatives are related to lack of teacher responsiveness. This will be K12's first year as part of the NCVA, so there's no track record. However, my oldest daughter once took a class through the NCVA because she couldn't fit two maths into her school schedule that year. Her teacher was fine and did respond to emails and questions. I hope the K12 teachers will be responsive also.

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I did it (a different one) my first year-- I didn't like it.  It is public school at home, which is a great thing for some people (just not me).

 

We had a LOT of reading on the computer, a lot of computer programs (math, science, history)  it was tiring for her eyes and she thought it was boring (not like having an energetic teacher and then follow up reading later).   I found that a lot of the work didn't come with teacher's manuals so I couldn't help with the homework (just like a b&m school--one of the reasons we started to homeschool was so I could understand the lesson enough to help with homework). 

 

And for some reason, my children don't remember stuff they learn on the computer (unless they do it several times-- we don't use TT for this reason). 

I am not anti online PS--- it just didn't work for us.

 

 

I did know another mother that had two children in the program-- it really worked for her-- her children did the school online during the day and she helped when she got home that night--

 

I agree with you about overuse of the computer, but one user gave K12 a scathing review because 75% of the work is done offline. For me, that's a positive. According the NC website, there will be textbooks and workbooks used with K12. That raises the problem of paper management… my dd and dh both have ADHD.  :tongue_smilie:

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The reviews are very mixed.  :closedeyes: But that's to be expected, I'm sure.

 

A lot of the negatives are related to lack of teacher responsiveness. This will be K12's first year as part of the NCVA, so there's no track record. However, my oldest daughter once took a class through the NCVA because she couldn't fit two maths into her school schedule that year. Her teacher was fine and did respond to emails and questions. I hope the K12 teachers will be responsive also.

 

My daughter didn't do high school, only 6th grade. I think a lot of the experience can come down to the teachers. It can make or break the situation. That's what broke it for us. Her teachers were not the responsive and got annoyed if she had the same questions  again. They weren't explaining it well, so she didn't get it, so she'd go to the open tutoring sessions to ask again. She finally got her re-evaluation done in February of that school year although they had known since July that it needed to be done. This was also the first year of K12 in the state.

 

I agree with you about overuse of the computer, but one user gave K12 a scathing review because 75% of the work is done offline. For me, that's a positive. According the NC website, there will be textbooks and workbooks used with K12. That raises the problem of paper management… my dd and dh both have ADHD.  :tongue_smilie:

 

I hear the work increases on the computer the higher grades. In 6th, all of math was online, but there was also a worktext/study guide. Art was online, but they also sent art prints. All of science was online, no text, there was a workbook if I remember correctly, more like a study guide. Literature was both, history had a text. But all answers are entered online. Writing papers was done offline, and they provided a rubric for the parent to grade. So, it was about 50/50. I don't know how it would look in high school, though. The way history was done, I can totally see that being done all online, as well as science, except labs.

 

As far as paper management, there were no loose papers; they were all contained in workbooks. Any essays written can be in a binder or composition book, so no loose papers there either.

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We had a LOT of reading on the computer, a lot of computer programs (math, science, history)  it was tiring for her eyes and she thought it was boring (not like having an energetic teacher and then follow up reading later).   I found that a lot of the work didn't come with teacher's manuals so I couldn't help with the homework (just like a b&m school--one of the reasons we started to homeschool was so I could understand the lesson enough to help with homework). 

 

And for some reason, my children don't remember stuff they learn on the computer (unless they do it several times-- we don't use TT for this reason). 

I am not anti online PS--- it just didn't work for us.

 

I just finished reading some websites about schooling in general and a constant theme is moving to technology based delivery of content versus traditional text-books.  Maybe a secondary market will exist where the content can be printed on demand such as via LuLu for those that prefer it.  I think some of the virtual schools will provide some hard-copy text if you ask for it (especially if you site some malady like extreme eye fatigue).  So far my DS is fine with computer based content for math but I think he likes hard copy books for English.

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I just finished reading some websites about schooling in general and a constant theme is moving to technology based delivery of content versus traditional text-books.  Maybe a secondary market will exist where the content can be printed on demand such as via LuLu for those that prefer it.  I think some of the virtual schools will provide some hard-copy text if you ask for it (especially if you site some malady like extreme eye fatigue).  So far my DS is fine with computer based content for math but I think he likes hard copy books for English.

 

This is one of my complaints about the charter school my dd attends. The middle school isn't as bad as the high school, but the high school issue ipads to all the students and they use online textbooks or no textbooks.

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I wonder how students who do not use traditional textbooks in High School will do when they get to University and need to use traditional textbooks. Probably they will do OK, but it will be a different experience for them.

 

The free virtual online schools paid for by a state will probably require a lot of logging of one's time, if the school gets paid for hours/days the student is "attending" classes and a lot of work on the part of the students, to keep up with the pace and required assignments.

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I wonder how students who do not use traditional textbooks in High School will do when they get to University and need to use traditional textbooks. Probably they will do OK, but it will be a different experience for them.

 

The free virtual online schools paid for by a state will probably require a lot of logging of one's time, if the school gets paid for hours/days the student is "attending" classes and a lot of work on the part of the students, to keep up with the pace and required assignments.

 

Ah, yes. The logging of hours...

 

If your child has any type of LDs that require extra time, how does that factor?

 

The online charter estimates an hour for each subject, about 5-6 subjects, and expects 6 hours logged. So, if the one hour math assignment actually takes 1.5, as well as English, science, history, that's already 6 hours. Our school also had art, and they could choose between music or foreign language. They were also expected to spend time on Study Island every day (or log so much time on it each week). 

 

It. was.  a. nightmare. I'd log her up to 6 hours and told her to call it a day regardless of where she was at. The little percentage bar that showed how much work was actually completed compared to the time she spent on it was discrepant and demotivating. 

 

I should say, dd really, really, really, really, disliked K12. Really. She hated math, the teacher had no love for her because she couldn't get it, so dd would just skip it. If I remember correctly, she only completed about 30% of that course (remember, there's percentage bars, so we can see progress). She actually almost finished the English/literature class; she liked that a lot. She also liked the science, art, and French. History was okay. 

 

It was the overall experience that did us in.

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We are doing this, our 3rd year.  Ours isn't a school-at-home situation because I've been able to choose more flexible curricula and we function more like non-virtual school homeschoolers. 

 

We love it but it does depend on having teachers who you work well with.

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Does she work well on her own? How is she with time management? Is she driven to have all the boxes checked at the end of the day?

 

Online virtual is just compressed ps at home. There are still all the hoops that come with ps. Each state is different so I can't specify exactly what hoops you'll have to jump through. A lot of the time the virtual school experience depends on the teacher. If this is a brand new program, expect a lot of growing pains, like teachers getting switched frequently.

My thought is, does it hurt to try? Give it a full semester and see. You can always pull her if it's not working out. Better to give it a try before high school when it's for keeps. You also have to account for the huge adjustment it will be. It took my 14yo about 3 months, with me sitting by his side the first two weeks to figure out their own way of getting it done in a decent amount of time. Mine likes to block schedule his subjects. I should say he goes to Connections Academy and I don't have any first-hand experience with K12. He used CA in 5th and survived the whole year so we went back to CA for high school.

It is doable, but it is just not a good fit for some kids.

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We used K12 VA for K-2nd for one child, 2nd to 4th for the other.  It depends a lot on the teacher you get.  Some are box checkers while some are more lenient as long as the minimum gets done.  We often forgot to do Study Island but didn't get nag for it.  Work samples submission was easy enough and we didn't attend most of the online classes since it wasn't compulsory for K-8.   We did enjoyed the field trips that were organized by the teachers in my region. What we like was that the K12 VA allowed subject acceleration so it wasn't hard to get my boys math and science accelerated.  There wasn't a textbook for middle school science, only workbook. Most of the lab materials were provided so it was easy enough to complete the labs. My kids just did their math offline and then complete the lesson test/quiz online. The middle school math textbooks are complete and you can download the PDF too for reading on the road.  My older stop at K12 algebra last year as a 4th grader.

 

What I didn't like was having to grade my kids answers for Language Arts and Literature using the rubrics.  State testing was two days a year and we always get assigned to a testing center that is nearest to us.

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I wonder how students who do not use traditional textbooks in High School will do when they get to University and need to use traditional textbooks. Probably they will do OK, but it will be a different experience for them.

.

 

They do just fine. :-)

 

I read one young woman's comment; she said that she loved college because it was all new to her, while her friends who had been in traditional schools all along just endured it because of having been doing the same stuff for so many years. Her teachers loved her, as well, because of her joy of learning.

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Ah, yes. The logging of hours...

 

If your child has any type of LDs that require extra time, how does that factor?

 

The online charter estimates an hour for each subject, about 5-6 subjects, and expects 6 hours logged. So, if the one hour math assignment actually takes 1.5, as well as English, science, history, that's already 6 hours. Our school also had art, and they could choose between music or foreign language. They were also expected to spend time on Study Island every day (or log so much time on it each week). 

 

It. was.  a. nightmare. I'd log her up to 6 hours and told her to call it a day regardless of where she was at. The little percentage bar that showed how much work was actually completed compared to the time she spent on it was discrepant and demotivating. 

 

I should say, dd really, really, really, really, disliked K12. Really. She hated math, the teacher had no love for her because she couldn't get it, so dd would just skip it. If I remember correctly, she only completed about 30% of that course (remember, there's percentage bars, so we can see progress). She actually almost finished the English/literature class; she liked that a lot. She also liked the science, art, and French. History was okay. 

 

It was the overall experience that did us in.

 

My dd is dyslexic, but she has a supersonic processing speed. So it's a mixed bag for her. I'm sorry your dd had a bad experience.

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Does she work well on her own? How is she with time management? Is she driven to have all the boxes checked at the end of the day?

 

Online virtual is just compressed ps at home. There are still all the hoops that come with ps. Each state is different so I can't specify exactly what hoops you'll have to jump through. A lot of the time the virtual school experience depends on the teacher. If this is a brand new program, expect a lot of growing pains, like teachers getting switched frequently.

My thought is, does it hurt to try? Give it a full semester and see. You can always pull her if it's not working out. Better to give it a try before high school when it's for keeps. You also have to account for the huge adjustment it will be. It took my 14yo about 3 months, with me sitting by his side the first two weeks to figure out their own way of getting it done in a decent amount of time. Mine likes to block schedule his subjects. I should say he goes to Connections Academy and I don't have any first-hand experience with K12. He used CA in 5th and survived the whole year so we went back to CA for high school.

It is doable, but it is just not a good fit for some kids.

 

One thing we have to consider is that if we pull her from the college prep charter school she's in right now, she will probably never get back in. Siblings of students have preference, and some years, all of the siblings who apply don't get in. I'm not sure we want her to go there for high school anyway because the workload is very heavy, but at the same time, I won't send her to the regular high school we're districted for. So if we pull her, we will have to expect to either do the virtual public school or homeschool her through high school. She is a serious competitive dancer, so some flexibility and a reasonable workload are what we hope to gain. I think Connections Academy will be an option starting in 2016, so if we try K12 and hate it, we could try switching to Connections.

 

K. is motivated. In spite of her ADHD, she is a hard worker. Some of that comes from having to work so hard to learn to read and some of it comes from dancing. I think having some (most?) of the work on the computer will actually help her to be more organized, because she's really bad at organizing paper. My dh was cleaning up some papers out of her backpack last week, and he said, "You know what I really hate about this? My backpack was the same way."

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My dd is dyslexic, but she has a supersonic processing speed. So it's a mixed bag for her. I'm sorry your dd had a bad experience.

 

Yeah, dyslexia here too, but with slow processing. The thing is, her comprehension is excellent which is the exact opposite of what they say happens with slow readers. Her 9th grade English teacher is impressed with her "comprehension and deep thinking" as well as written expression, once you get past the spelling. So, I know what you mean about the mixed bag. 

 

But most of the bad experience came from the teachers - well 2 of them. I dealt with the logging of hours my way, until they did the reeval and adjusted the requirements- %age of curriculum to be completed based on her processing.

 

The curriculum itself, the live classes, we actually liked.

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I think to some degree, this decision comes down to,"You get what you pay for." If money were no issue, I'd go with Laurel Springs or Calvert online school. But it might be worth trying the virtual school knowing that there are other options available if it goes very badly. NC has had a virtual school for years; they've just never offered it as a full time at-home option. So the transition might not be awful. Cathy Duffy gives the content of K12 a good review, although she dislikes it for other reasons. 

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Yeah, dyslexia here too, but with slow processing. The thing is, her comprehension is excellent which is the exact opposite of what they say happens with slow readers. Her 9th grade English teacher is impressed with her "comprehension and deep thinking" as well as written expression, once you get past the spelling. So, I know what you mean about the mixed bag. 

 

But most of the bad experience came from the teachers - well 2 of them. I dealt with the logging of hours my way, until they did the reeval and adjusted the requirements- %age of curriculum to be completed based on her processing.

 

The curriculum itself, the live classes, we actually liked.

 

She sounds like my middle daughter. She's an excellent reader and deep thinker, just very slow. She's dyslexic too, but not as severe as the youngest. Thanks for your comments.

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If you go with K12 VA, I found clearly labeled binders to store my kids work useful. Especially when I need to find decent work samples from each subject to submit.

My older is a night owl so he completed his work for the next day from 10pm to past midnight. Then he wakes up later.

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One thing we have to consider is that if we pull her from the college prep charter school she's in right now, she will probably never get back in. Siblings of students have preference, and some years, all of the siblings who apply don't get in. I'm not sure we want her to go there for high school anyway because the workload is very heavy, but at the same time, I won't send her to the regular high school we're districted for. So if we pull her, we will have to expect to either do the virtual public school or homeschool her through high school. She is a serious competitive dancer, so some flexibility and a reasonable workload are what we hope to gain. I think Connections Academy will be an option starting in 2016, so if we try K12 and hate it, we could try switching to Connections.

 

K. is motivated. In spite of her ADHD, she is a hard worker. Some of that comes from having to work so hard to learn to read and some of it comes from dancing. I think having some (most?) of the work on the computer will actually help her to be more organized, because she's really bad at organizing paper. My dh was cleaning up some papers out of her backpack last week, and he said, "You know what I really hate about this? My backpack was the same way."

 

 

We are in the same boat. My daughter is also a serious dancer. She currently attends a performing arts charter that she had to audition to get in.If I needed to pull her, she probably wouldn't get back in. There is no way I'd send her to the public high schools, and the graduation rate thread had me researching and realizing the charter schools aren't much better. If I pulled her, the options are virtual charter, or homeschool all the way through - with community college classes thrown in. We already had a plan for the latter prior to her being accepted to the performing arts school.

 

I suspect my dd has mild adhd. One thing she learned was an organization system with color coding for each class. It worked really well last year at the charter I pulled her from. Unfortunately, she just hasn't got it together this year, even though she knows it works for her.

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Good news! Connections Academy will be open also in 2015. I thought they weren't going to be available until 2016. I feel a whole lot better about switching. Connections gets much better reviews than K12. Only problem is that because of the NC charter school rules, each one can only take 1500 students in the first year, so I need to get right on the application process if we're going to do it.

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GreatSchools.org also has virtual charter reviews

 

MarkT:   Thank you for mentioning that web site!   I was curious and went to it,

 

What follows is OT to the subject of public virtual charter schools, but possibly relevant, regarding curriculum, examinations, workload, time management and self discipline.

 

I was curious and went to it,and searched for TTUISD, because DD is a Middle School student (Distance Learning).     http://www.greatschools.org/texas/lubbock/9673-Texas-Tech-High-School/reviews/

 

Probably I was a little surprised, but not a lot, when I read this in the review at the top: "My son transitioned from our local area high school to Texas Tech High School during his Sophomore year. The curriculum is challenging and excellent for college prep. My son was in AP classes in our local area high school and he found the Texas Tech High School curriculum to be more challenging and found there were gaps from AP courses he had taken prior to enrolling."

 

I am not surprised, that in other reviews there,  people complained about the requirement  that the Final Examinations must be passed, to complete a course, or that the Final Exam counts for 25% of the semester grade. That information is clearly available on the web site to anyone interested in TTUISD courses.   If people have problems with examinations, probably TTUISD isn't a good fit for them. If I assume, that's how it is done in the university and the school is run by the university.

 

My wife and DD and I are extremely happy with TTUISD!

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I wonder how students who do not use traditional textbooks in High School will do when they get to University and need to use traditional textbooks. Probably they will do OK, but it will be a different experience for them.

Not necessarily. There are plenty of college/university courses which use e-texts/digitally delivered media.

 

I see pros and cons. You wouldn't have to schlep 45lbs of books from campus to your dorm every day! Annotating and recalling things would be more difficult for me because I like to make notes in the book (which I bet I could learn to do) and I use physical landmarks to find things ("a third of the way through the book, just after that spot the book likes to open to, on the lower right side, next to the spot where the brownie crumbs stained the page" is harder to find in a virtual book).

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Not necessarily. There are plenty of college/university courses which use e-texts/digitally delivered media.

 

I see pros and cons. You wouldn't have to schlep 45lbs of books from campus to your dorm every day! Annotating and recalling things would be more difficult for me because I like to make notes in the book (which I bet I could learn to do) and I use physical landmarks to find things ("a third of the way through the book, just after that spot the book likes to open to, on the lower right side, next to the spot where the brownie crumbs stained the page" is harder to find in a virtual book).

 

 

Amen. The Biology textbook I bought for DD weighs almost 6 pounds.  Carrying a few textbooks in that weight range in a backpack would be very uncomfortable.   DD has used some Kindle Novels for English courses and she said it would be easier, if they were traditional books, if she wants to mark things in them, but that it is not a huge issue.

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MarkT:   Thank you for mentioning that web site!   I was curious and went to it,

 

What follows is OT to the subject of public virtual charter schools, but possibly relevant, regarding curriculum, examinations, workload, time management and self discipline.

 

I was curious and went to it,and searched for TTUISD, because DD is a Middle School student (Distance Learning).     http://www.greatschools.org/texas/lubbock/9673-Texas-Tech-High-School/reviews/

 

Probably I was a little surprised, but not a lot, when I read this in the review at the top: "My son transitioned from our local area high school to Texas Tech High School during his Sophomore year. The curriculum is challenging and excellent for college prep. My son was in AP classes in our local area high school and he found the Texas Tech High School curriculum to be more challenging and found there were gaps from AP courses he had taken prior to enrolling."

 

I am not surprised, that in other reviews there,  people complained about the requirement  that the Final Examinations must be passed, to complete a course, or that the Final Exam counts for 25% of the semester grade. That information is clearly available on the web site to anyone interested in TTUISD courses.   If people have problems with examinations, probably TTUISD isn't a good fit for them. If I assume, that's how it is done in the university and the school is run by the university.

 

My wife and DD and I are extremely happy with TTUISD!

yes you have to read the actual reviews - somebody's one star may be your five star!  So many parents want school to be just plain easy.

 

But of course there always legitimate beefs like unresponsive teachers not answering questions and getting someone else's grade posted for your child. This happened to my son in Middle School. They corrected it.  It was pretty obvious when the grades listed were  A,A+,A+,A, D, A+.  The teacher did not notice that the D did not fit until I pointed it out.

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NC has had a virtual school for years; they've just never offered it as a full time at-home option. So the transition might not be awful.

I have to disagree. NC has not had anything like this before. What we have had, the NC Virtual Public School (NCVPS), is only for high school (and some middle school options), and is set up only to be supplementary individual courses for schools that don't offer a particular class, not a full time full-school program. The k12 program includes K-10th grade, IIRC, starting out and is not going to be administered through the same system at all (it will be through a totally separate nonprofit rather than through the NC Dept of Public Instruction), so the two programs may have very little in common, just as a regular charter may be very different than the local district schools. There has been a tremendous amount of resistance from the DPI to the idea of a full time virtual charter in NC, so I do have some concerns about whether these two will be set up to fail (inadequate funding, lots of restrictions and requirements above and beyond b&m charters, etc). I hope I'm wrong, because I think there is a place for virtual charters in our menu of educational options.

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I have to disagree. NC has not had anything like this before. What we have had, the NC Virtual Public School (NCVPS), is only for high school (and some middle school options), and is set up only to be supplementary individual courses for schools that don't offer a particular class, not a full time full-school program. The k12 program includes K-10th grade, IIRC, starting out and is not going to be administered through the same system at all (it will be through a totally separate nonprofit rather than through the NC Dept of Public Instruction), so the two programs may have very little in common, just as a regular charter may be very different than the local district schools. There has been a tremendous amount of resistance from the DPI to the idea of a full time virtual charter in NC, so I do have some concerns about whether these two will be set up to fail (inadequate funding, lots of restrictions and requirements above and beyond b&m charters, etc). I hope I'm wrong, because I think there is a place for virtual charters in our menu of educational options.

 

I agree they are not the same and I said it was not a full time option. My only point was that the online concept is not entirely new in NC. My daughter took a class and it was mediocre. I hope the online charters will be better since they will be full time.

 

The DPI doesn't like charters in general, online or b&m. They only tolerate them because people have clamored and lobbied to get them, expand them, and add more of them. 

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NC is offering a virtual public charter via K12 this year for the first time. My dd13 was homeschooled through 6th and is in a B&M public charter school for 7th. She is doing great, but she really wants to be homeschooled again. I work FT and my dh is the mostly stay-at-home parent, but he's had a potential business opportunity drop in his lap and wants to go for it. Even if he continued to be a stay-at-home parent, he really doesn't want to homeschool high school for several reasons that I understand and don't disagree with. I see the virtual school as a possible perfect compromise, but so far, he isn't enthused. I think for grades 8-12, dd will not need any more help with homework than she already does, and having her do school at home will improve the flexibility in his schedule, so I don't understand his reticence.

 

Anyway, if you've used a virtual charter, your experience will help us weigh whether this is an opportunity that we want to take advantage of. Thanks!

Sorry I am late to this thread....but we are in our 9th of using k12 through a charter ( first AR now OK). My son has done really well with it and I believe has received a great education. He is consistently scoring advanced on almost every single standardized or EOI test he takes.

 

Logging of hours has been a complaint by many but I just never got hung up on it.....i just learned to work the system....beginning this year we no longer have to log hours which is nice.

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