The Colorado Virtual Academy, the state’s largest full-time online K-12 school, is considering plans to leave the Adams 12 Five Star Schools …
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The Colorado Virtual Academy, the state’s largest full-time online K-12 school, is considering plans to leave the Adams 12 Five Star Schools district once its charter ends next year.
The academy is considering splitting into a K-8 school and high school within the state’s Charter School Institute.
Mary Gifford, the regional vice president at Virginia-based K-12, Inc., which manages the Colorado Virtual Academy, said the school’s board voted June 29 to pursue a charter through the state’s Charter School Institute but maintain a close working relationship with
The school’s five-year charter with Adams 12 Five Star Schools was renewed for a second time in 2008 and is set to expire June 30, 2013.
She said the academy’s board of directors submitted an application to the Charter School Institute but will keep options open by notifying Adams 12 of its intent to rejoin the school district.
“Adams 12 has been a fabulous partner for the academy, and the academy board wants to make sure that Adams 12 remains a good option for the academy,” Gifford said.
Gifford said the decision to create separate K-8 and high school charters is based on the differing instructional models for the two academic levels. She said the academy’s elementary and intermediate students work in flexible, collaborative learning environments, while its high school students learn in a more traditional setting.
Unlike other Adams 12 charter schools that cater only to students living within the school district, Gifford said the Colorado Virtual Academy’s 5,000 students are spread across the state.
Gifford said this broad reach has had a positive impact on its enrollment, while some Adams 12 administrators said this growth had a negative impact on the district’s overall achievement.
Adams 12 Superintendent Chris Gdowski said the academy’s TCAP scores, which indicated a wide range of achievements and shortfalls in reading, writing, mathematics and science, substantially skewed the district’s overall results.
Gifford acknowledged the shortfalls but said Colorado Virtual Academy’s academic-growth scores paint a more accurate picture of its success.
“I think it’s a function of the kids that we are getting and not a measurement of what we’re doing with the kids,” Gifford said.
“I can’t deny that the static scores are not at the level of Adams 12, but I think those growth scores will paint a more optimistic picture and show what we do with those kids during the time that we have them.”
The academy will present its application to the Charter School Institute on Oct. 16. A final decision is expected in the third week of November.
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