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CVA in WA State anyone? I have questions

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
We just (as in last week) signed up for CVA. I spoke with my dd's teacher contact today and have been looking through the WINGS website. I'm feeling a little misled because I thought the process would be more open and it feels restrictive to me.

I am looking through the Student Learning Plan objectives and I thought I would be able to write out my own plan and stick to that but it looks like I have to adhere to the state standards for 3rd grade. For example, my dd is really interested in world geography so we were going to explore that. The state standard are for her to learn US states, capitols, geographical features of each region, knowledge of specific animal and plants of each region, etc. Not what we were going to do at all.

I thought the annual assessment could be pretty flexible, as written under the WA State law, but my contact is saying that dd has to do the MAP standardized test or another approved standardized test like CAT.

Accessing the funds seems time consuming and more restricted than I was led to believe as well.

I'm wondering if anyone out there is using CVA and how it's working for you. Does it just seem controlled at the beginning but easier once you get going? Do you follow the state learning objectives for each grade? If not, how do you get around it? Lie? Say you will but don't? Any other feedback? Do they test to make sure she knows all her states and the capitols?

My greatest motivation is the funds as my dh has been out of work for 7 months. But if I have to adhere to state learning objectives for each grade, I don't know if it's worth it to me.

Any information on this program would be very helpful, thanks!
post #2 of 21
Thread Starter 
One more question: I heard that there was a Yahoo group for CVA but when I try to access it through Yahoo it says for members only. When I try to access it through CVA I don't see a way to. Any ideas?
post #3 of 21
Not sure what CVA stands for.... We are in WA also and in our county we have parent partnership programs (PPP). Your CVA sounds similar to our PPP. 4 out of 5 of our area school districts have a PPP. The one closest to us is Meridian district PPP.... Most families involved really like it. As long as you cover the core subjects, and don't use religious content for your clocked hrs, you can basically teach what you want. Each student get $140/mo. Sounds like a lot, but it can go fast by paying for a few classes ex: art and swimming lessons.
post #4 of 21
Are you talking about Columbia Virtual Academy?

I'm not too familiar with it myself, was just told about it by another homeschooling mom. I'm interested in what you find out, though, because I also thought that it was more flexible.
post #5 of 21
We use CVA, and love it!

It just seems restrictive, I think so they're making sure they cover their legal bases, like looking at the state standards seems horribly institutional and restrictive, til you realize it all SOUNDS more uptight than it really is.

We're Waldorf inspired, and don't folllow the state standards at all. I don;t even think about them, most of the time. You have to fill out the SLPs, but you can change them to say whatever you want, for each subject, and you can change them as the school year goes along, too. Most people just write them to be fairly open-ended, though, I think, if thye're not going to be following a packaged curriculum. It's not a problem at all. I add in subjects not on the list, and don't have anything for some subjects.

The MAP testing is used as a tool to track annual progress. That is, it doesn't matter how your child scores this year, but they're looking to see improvement each year, for your child. That's not hard, and not really tied to learning particular things at particular times. The test itself is on the computer, and the school signs in to your computer as your child takes the test. It is a maze-type test, and questions get more complex with correct answers and easier with wrong answers. It's easy for perfectionist children to totally stress about it, because they will always come to questions they don't know the answers too, rather than a simpler kind of grade level testing. The results are cool, though, and broken down really well, which is nice. I am scheduling one portion each day over three days this year, though, instead of having DS do them all on one day. The test is reading comprehension, language usage, and math, and it's not timed.

The only reason we do it is for the money. I was really skeptical, about having government intrusion, about having to answer for how the money is spent, "proving" ourselves, all of it. It really is no big deal- there's a weekly email from the "teacher" to the student/parent, with three questions and a riddle, an email link, info about contests or upcoming activities. Once a month you have to give a quick summary of the progress in each of the subjects, and once month you also have to check off "attendance". But you don't have to keep attendance records daily, or even keep records of the specifics of the work getting done.
You don't have to get permission for the school materials you use, or methodologies. The supplies you buy with CVA $ has to be approved, not religious instruction, etc., and you aren't supposed to count religious education time as school time for CVA purposes. But you can use anything you want, if you've acquired it yourself.
I use the school $ for music lessons, consumables (art supplies, science kits, workbooks, stuff like that), and I'm going to sign up for Discovery Streaming Plus. Lots of people do whatever they'd normally be doing for school, and just use the $ for sports lessons, music lessons, and field trips, zoo membership, etc..

It really is easy, once you get past the wording, and the teachers and staff I've dealt with are all mellow, helpful without being intrusive, and just great. CVA is the best, most flexible, and most parent-controlled of the programs in our state, as far as I can tell. We're very pleased.

Hope that helps?
post #6 of 21
I'm in WA, but I'm not familiar with CVA??
post #7 of 21
post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 
mama-aya-thanks for all the details, it's very reassuring. I was able to talk with a mother from my homeschool group today who also spoke very highly of Columbia Virtual Academy and said she was very creative in how she met the state standards.

You wrote: You have to fill out the SLPs, but you can change them to say whatever you want, for each subject, and you can change them as the school year goes along, too. Most people just write them to be fairly open-ended, though, I think, if thye're not going to be following a packaged curriculum. It's not a problem at all. I add in subjects not on the list, and don't have anything for some subjects.

The advisor I spoke with said to look at the Approved Learning Plans but not to make any changes until I okay'd them with her, or to simply hit 'submit'. It doesn't sound like that's how you did your SLP. It seems like she wants it to be as unchanged and generic as possible.

One more questions: are you a part of the CVA yahoo list or know how to get on it?

Many thanks!
post #9 of 21
the yahoo group- I don't know- I haven't thought of it in a long time. I'm on the list, but maybe my emails are getting spam-filtered out? Hmmm. I'd ask your advisory teacher.
One thing, though- we're registered 99%, which means we're technically still homeschoolers, and get to follow the homeschool rules, don't have to do WASL, etc.. If you're registered 100% you're a CVA student, technically, and maybe they feel they need to be more careful about making SLPs fit the state standards? Most everyone I know is registered 99%, or even a little less. This is the first year they've had a template, subject by subject, for the SLPs, but I just looked at them and erased everything I didn't like and wrote in my own plans.
I'd guess your advisor just wants to make sure you're both on the same page or that your wording is in line with what they need legally? If I were you, though, I guess I'd look through and see if there are some specific learning goals in the different subjects and write about those, then put in a couple of fairly general points, to give some leeway in learning, and email your advisor.
I think just submitting them as they are is probably pretty common, but the nice thing about CVA is that they're all about letting parents and kids make all the choices, not simply follow some prepackaged curriculum, so I WANT our SLPs to show that, you know?
post #10 of 21
We don't use CVA but I do have to log onto wings. Don't worry about the state standards! Seriously, as for the topics like world history, US history, state history and the timeline for those courses, they are a suggested course of action. I think it is mostly to keep schools on the same pattern so that if you move from Spokane to Seattle, your kid isn't doing US History two years in a row.

I read every line once and it really is not a required thing. Just guidelines. Wings last year was challenging for me. This year, I am in and out! I just cut and paste the stuff for the EARLs and assume I am covering the important stuff somewhere. The writing is really vague, long, and political.

Post later about how you like CVA--I have thought about it. This year I use the PS part time, had to submit the decaration of intent, but since I use PS part time I submit on WINGS.

Amy
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama-aya View Post
If you're registered 100% you're a CVA student, technically, and maybe they feel they need to be more careful about making SLPs fit the state standards? Most everyone I know is registered 99%, or even a little less.
I did register us at 99% so I could keep my home based learning status, which is pretty important to me.

Quote:
This is the first year they've had a template, subject by subject, for the SLPs, but I just looked at them and erased everything I didn't like and wrote in my own plans.
That's helpful to know! No one I've spoken with previous had said anything about templates, just "write your SLP" and I was having a hard time figuring out where I was supposed to actually write something.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AAK View Post
We don't use CVA but I do have to log onto wings. Don't worry about the state standards! Seriously, as for the topics like world history, US history, state history and the timeline for those courses, they are a suggested course of action. I think it is mostly to keep schools on the same pattern so that if you move from Spokane to Seattle, your kid isn't doing US History two years in a row.

I read every line once and it really is not a required thing. Just guidelines. Wings last year was challenging for me. This year, I am in and out! I just cut and paste the stuff for the EARLs and assume I am covering the important stuff somewhere. The writing is really vague, long, and political.

Post later about how you like CVA--I have thought about it. This year I use the PS part time, had to submit the decaration of intent, but since I use PS part time I submit on WINGS.

Amy
Thanks Amy, it's good to hear one more person's experience on this whole issue. If anyone asks about CVA a few months from now I'll be able to offer my opinion as well. I have heard many good things about it and we could really use the money, so I'm going to give it a try.
post #12 of 21
We use CVA. This is our third year and I am pretty pleased with it. I dislike the annual testing, but really, it is pretty easy on the kids (the MAP test is computer-based and you do it at home) and the result don't much matter. They just have to do it to keep their "school" standing. CVA in prticular was started by and remains heavily staffed by homeschoolers themselves.

A PP poster noted that the hoops you jump through, all that rigmaroll, is so that they can cover their bases. We have been blessed with a very open teacher contact, and she is really good at explaining the real reasons behind stuff.

WRT to your SLP, don't sweat it at all. The reason they want all that stuff in there is indeed to meet legal requirements, but 1. they dont test on it and 2. they DO refer to the SLP to justify your expenditures. In other words, if you want to tie dye with your kids, make sure you have a section in your SLP referring to textile artistry.
post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfmeis View Post
A PP poster noted that the hoops you jump through, all that rigmaroll, is so that they can cover their bases. We have been blessed with a very open teacher contact, and she is really good at explaining the real reasons behind stuff.
I think my contact must be pretty new because she answers a lot of my questions with "I'll have to check with my supervisor" or "I'll have to look into that" to what seem to me pretty basic questions. And she isn't very good at explaining the reasons behind stuff. Oh well. I'm looking forward to getting the SLP done with.

Another issue came up today-she said my dd might need to do the MAP testing now. We just did an annual assessment for my dd on 9/1/09, which I mailed to her. It seems totally unhelpful for me or my dd for her to be tested again at this time, I want to wait until the end of the "school year". When do your children do their MAP testing? Have you had any issues around it (other than the need to do it?)
post #14 of 21
This is our second year of CVA and love it, especially after the more and more structured limitations of WAVA, which we tried also. Yes, this year they built templates into the SLP's which I like less, but probably did with a thought to make things easier. Last year they just had text documents for each grade level and I was able to cut and paste from the levels he was at for each subject, that was easier to me as a techie. This year I really did not bother to change them much, and the main thing the advisor had us do was keep specific curriculum out. What made it nice before is that I also cut and pasted to do monthly summaries, but this year I still did ours in about 10 min. Yes, there are hoops for the funds, but understand they need to be responsible about it. I just tend to use the easiest way-Rainbow-to order most of it. And I am paying for piano and outdoor skills class for the rest. After a moment of annoyance at the time it took last spring to get our piano teacher approved as a CBI, I was happy with the change they made to the CBI program this year, basically opening it up more.

So for us it lets us truly keep learning child lead. I take their lead and only use the curriculum I buy as a jumping off point. I don't mind the check ins at all because my son loves the extra contact and I kind of like the reminder regularly to step back and pat ourselves on the back for what we have done.

We have not done the MAP testing yet since we joined late last year, but I think that you should be able to push back your advisor, I believe they only have to be done sometime during the year. Earlier than June might be more convenient for their record keeping, but maybe you can agree to May or April?
post #15 of 21
Yep- about the MAP, just push back a little. If she's used to taking an eval test in the spring, then maybe that's a comfortable part of your year long rhythm, and you don't feel comfortable changing it up.
post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 
It's me again! You were so helpful with my last questions I thought I'd throw another one out.

I was about to fill out a vendor request form tonight and I looked closer at the assets page. If I buy my dd a book (not a workbook) on human growth or a geography game or a set of math manipulatives, do I need to send them back to CVA at some point? Has anyone sent their "assets" back to CVA or has this come up at some point?

It seems odd to me. If I use CVA for 4 or 6 or 8 years, am I supposed to find the book I purchased in 2009 and return it?

If this is the case, do you just buy consumables with CVA funds, or is this idea of "assets" another thing they have to cover their bases on but don't actually put into action?

I'm suddenly re-thinking what I may want to use the funds for!

Thanks again for any help!
post #17 of 21
You send them back if/when you leave the program. When they have those satellite meetings you can take stuff back, if you want.

This is my first year. It's been really helpful. We had no room in our budget for school stuff. My children really wanted to do experiments and crafts this year. It's been a huge blessing for us.
post #18 of 21
I just use the allowance for consumables and lessons, field trips, stuff like that, because most non-consumable homeschool stuff has really good resale value.
Non consumable things you order through CVA you get to keep as long as you're using them (if you bought a skeleton, say, you could keep it as long as the SLP included anatomy/bones, etc, which might be every year that you're a CVA member). When you leave CVA or are finished with the item you have to give it back.
I also wonder if, as CVA gets bigger and bigger, maybe their accounting will need to be more careful, and people might have to send non-consumables in every year? (Just speculation....)
Whatever the item costs, and shipping, gets deducted from your family allotment. There is a bunch of wording about value percentages and reduced value, but it doesn't really seem to affect anything. It's not like you get 75% of the cash back if you return something after one year, nor do you get to keep it after 5 years, when the value is "0". And the consumables bank they have never seems to be accesible- I hate the idea of all those cool supplies and books just sitting in a warehouse somewhere not doing anybody any good.
Anyway- if it's a non-consumable you plan to use for several years or one that you probably wouldn't resell, it might be worth it to have CVA buy it for you. For us, so far, it hasn't been, but we always seem to spend the whole allocation anyway.
post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 
Now that I'm more clear on the assets aspect I think I'll only spend my allotment on consumables and lessons/fieldtrips. Trying to keep track of what I bought via CVA and knowing I'll have to return it sounds stressful to me. I do wonder where all those returned supplies go.
Thanks again for your continued help.
post #20 of 21
They have an asset library where you can check stuff out.
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