After only a few weeks of K12 Virtual School 4th Grade, it has become apparent that the technique used within the public school system is akin to fire hose training. Turn it on full blast and hope some of it sticks. To make some of it “stick” in rote memory, test and re-test constantly and continuously.
How unkind and unrefined!
Oregon Virtual Academy (ORVA), utilizing the K12 Virtual School curriculum, is our first foray into both a virtual school and the public school system. As a family, we began this journey with arms wide open and are making a concerted effort to utilize and follow their system and curriculum as laid out. My husband and I are both well-educated with multiple college degrees. Between the two of us, drawing from many resources, we endeavor to homeschool educate our 9-year-old son ourselves.
Although the concept of virtual schools and the K12 system and curriculum hold incredible promise for the 21st Century, it’s becoming clear that the fundamental organization of K12’s knowledge delivery has a few illogical premises. This is not necessarily a fault with the K12 Virtual School itself, but possibly with those who designed the overall public school system. That would take further investigation. Meanwhile, I present you with a few experiences to ponder.
I have met only enthusiastic administration and teaching staff with K12 and ORVA. These teachers want to teach! It is their passion. You gotta love that. The illogical and needlessly complicated additives stem from the testing system and curriculum, not from the staff and educators I’ve conversed with.
The 3rd – 5th Grade orientation was designed for adults, and yet it requires the poor student to endure the same verbiage and lessons. Don’t. You, the adult, need to go through it first. All of it. And then water it down for what the kids need to know.
A simple remedy for this would be to create a separate orientation for “Learning Coaches” (what K12 calls whichever adult is overseeing the student through the lessons). This would present all the ins and outs an adult has to know in order to navigate a virtual school system, and would offer a very watered-down version that is actually written for 3rd – 5th Graders.
This one action would prevent a lot of headache and initial disappointment in the program.
My son is given “pre-tests” to test him on the very material he is about to learn. All told, he has been given over 9 hours of “testing,” thus far. He is only 10 days into the actual program folks. Anyone see a problem with this?
These tests show up before starting most workbook chapters. This puts him into a mental confusion and anxiety before he has even had a chance to see and learn the material. How illogical and unkind! Do away with these.
Prior to starting the K-12 school, my son was required to take an increasingly difficult computer test (nicknamed the Scrantron test to pay homage to the pencil and paper bubble tests of the past).
This test started at the grade level equivalent to his age and then continued to throw questions at him far above his grade level to see if he knew the answers. When he got one right – or guessed it right– then he got a harder question. Yet this doesn’t mean he actually knows the material, it means he guessed it right.
He was exposed to Algebra and Trig questions, yet had never seen this material in school – He’s 9 years old! You can only imagine his response.
Parents get to sit by, say nothing, do nothing and see if he can “guess” his way through this test. If he gets a question wrong, then the next question’s grade level is backed down. He was a blubbering, anxious, stressed out kid by the time it was over. Yet this test is required by law and is administered twice a year. And in his case, he had to take it twice in three weeks, due to an administration error.
I have no idea what the hidden agenda is behind administrating and recording these test results, but I can tell you the goal is not for the benefit of the child.
You take a happy-go-lucky child and subject him to this testing and afterwards watch his shine and excitement for learning fade. My son began his first few days of the K12 program a bit more wary and reeling now, something associated with too many unknowns thrown at you too fast.
I understand why a virtual public school has to test kids before and after the year start. But if you have to test him in the first place, then just give the kid the test for the Grade level he is entering, to determine which material he will be studying.
His 4th Grade Curriculum is not going to include 5th, 6th, 7th and higher grade levels of material. Why are you testing him on it?
One argument for testing him is to give him an individual learning program. That sounds wonderful, sure. But in reality, it still means a great deal of “assessments” (tests) before he’s allowed “test out” of individual lessons. My son is required to take multiple tests on the same material. This is a waste of his actual learning time.