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State Virtual Public School- Yay or Nay?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
We will be homeschooling this year, our first year doing so, and I was looking into our state's virtual school. The school is run by K-12 and I have heard good things about the curriculum, plus the virtual school is free. My husband is opposed for a few reasons, namely, the state having control. I was only interested because someone else is laying out the curriculum for you and it is free. I do realize that I would be losing the ability to tailor my sons education to his needs, that is the biggest drawback for me.

Does anyone here have any experience with an online virtual school that is sponsored by the state? Any pros or cons that you can think of?
post #2 of 20

Not personally, but I have talked to a fellow "gymnastics" mom about her son.  She liked the attention they gave to her and felt it helped her feel confident about homeschooling solo that first year.  A school official would contact her every month and work out a detailed-- though admittedly tailored-- curriculum that she had to follow pretty closely.  In the end, she felt too stifled to continue beyond the first year.  Plus, her son just wasn't wanting to pursue reading as ardently as they wanted (he was 6) but because he was otherwise an enthusiastic student she didn't like the pressure the curriculum put on him to keep "at grade level".  She did become confident enough to continue homeschooling without supervision, so she felt it was a worthwhile experience for her.  (She was not comfortable with an unschooling approach, as our family is.)

     In our state, all the "freebies" are going to be drying up, plus the supervision is likely to get even more intense just as regular schooling is.

     If you accept this at taxpayer expense, you must expect the taxpayers to want accountability, and more of it all the time.  Does this lack of educational freedom for your family rankle you?  Then don't do it.  If not, try it and see if it works.  No one will force you to stick with it once you start.

post #3 of 20

IMO it's better for new homeschoolers not to have the pressure of the state looking over their shoulder and keeping track of everything.  It can cause a lot of anxiety.  If you want structure and plans that are set up for you, you can purchase materials and lesson plans for an academic year and then choose to follow them as closely as you want to, but if you decide it doesn't work for your child as written, there is nothing to officially withdraw from.  K12.com is really expensive to purchase privately .  There are other places to buy a complete grade level package that are much more affordable.  Personally I would rather spend around $1000 on materials and lesson plans for a year and do it independently than deal with a child being enrolled in the school district.

post #4 of 20

I agree with hubby. I don't need the state laying it out for me. I'd rather find something else than do that.


I've heard of others who have done k-12 and have not heard much positive about it. I also know, depending on the group, that some homeschool groups don't consider "virtual schools" homeschooling and will decline entrance to the group.


Are there any other curriculum you are interested in? Oh...and welcome to homeschooling!

post #5 of 20

I used virtual schools twice - one semester with K12 and 2 kids and one semester with Connections and 1 kid. Both were positive experiences, although I felt Connections had the better curriculum and more options for extra classes. Our intention was never to HS for 12 years and knew that the kids would eventually be attending a local public school. Because of that, we were always aware of what the school expectations were for each year because we were building our curriculum around it so having the school-designed curriculum was a plus for us. You can add anything you want and with the exception of a few work examples you turn in, you can teach and schedule any way that works for you. We did a 4-day school week with weekend work and it was never an issue, for example. The 'teachers' were pleasant, the material was good, the set-up was easy...I have no complaints. If either of my kids return to homeschool at any point, we'd go with a virtual school again. 

post #6 of 20
Originally Posted by Savoir Faire View Post. I also know, depending on the group, that some homeschool groups don't consider "virtual schools" homeschooling and will decline entrance to the group.



IMO that is just mean.  If someone wants to use a virtual school, that is their business. I would never be interested in a homeschool group that would exclude people because their chosen method of homeschooling wasn't pure enough; just like I would not be interested in one that excludes anyone for not having the right religion or homeschooling style.  If the choice of a virtual school keeps you from being admitted to a group, you are not missing anything worth having anyway.




post #7 of 20

My biggest reason to not use a state curriculum like that is that I think it starts to open the door for the state to start legislating standards or set curriculum to all homeschoolers at some point.  I see it as a way to undermine homeschooling.  Hope that makes sense.

post #8 of 20


Originally Posted by laundrycrisis View Post


IMO that is just mean.  If someone wants to use a virtual school, that is their business. I would never be interested in a homeschool group that would exclude people because their chosen method of homeschooling wasn't pure enough; just like I would not be interested in one that excludes anyone for not having the right religion or homeschooling style.  If the choice of a virtual school keeps you from being admitted to a group, you are not missing anything worth having anyway.





Trust me-- you're so RIGHT on this one!!! I'm not much for exclusion...just pointing out that I've seen it happen.


post #9 of 20

K-12 is public school at home. The problem is your child has to do every assignment, all the busy work, and tests, even when it isn't appropriate (too easy or redundant).  If you don't follow through or formally withdraw, there are the same consequences as not doing school assignments.  Your dc won't get to start the next grade.  Possibly it would be a truancy concern.  You don't have the flexibility to tweak things to suit yourselves or to improve your dc's learning experience.  You can supplement all you want but you still need to get done what they assign.  If you live close to one, your dc can go in for special classes.  Your dc gets a laptop to use for the school year.  I don't think it would be worth the perks, myself, but to each his own.


It can be confusing when people call everything, from public cyber school to home education, homeschooling.  It could be a problem if they are thrown together with legislation using the terms imprecisely.  The language in my state is home education means all homeschooling that is not public cyber school.  Cyber schoolers call themselves homeschoolers, too (and, around here, are welcome to join all the groups and activities).  Recently, someone from the Dept of Ed wrote a "helpful info" page using the term homeschooling throughout.  If not corrected, it could lead to people wondering why home educators and cyber schoolers aren't subject to the same laws.  Not a good thing.

post #10 of 20

We are using our state cyberschool (PA).


I really don't have the problems that many others have talked about.  Although they were required to work through K4 and K5, even though they were advanced, the school was fine with me just having the kids take the assessments, send them in, and once graded, moving on to 1st grade.  So, we weren't limited to the busywork, actually.  Last year we tried the live classes, and I didn't like that at all, because of the limitation in put on our schedule and because my son was bored to death in the Language Arts class.  So we will go back to the text-based curric this year.


Being public school, it's true they aren't as free about grade-level as we would be on our own.  My boys are 2 years ahead now, and I've been asked to have my oldest one work at a normal pace.  Which I will do.  It just means that 'official" school may take an hour, and the good stuff will be done the rest of the day.  If it becomes clear that he's advanced way beyond grade level, they won't have a choice but to advance him officially.  If that's just not the level he's at though, he will still be ahead, as well as having a much more well-rounded education.  So either way is good for me.


"State control of my home/family" just has not been an issue, and I'm not concerned about it.  The state no more dictates how we live than it does anybody else.

Edited by cappuccinosmom - 7/12/11 at 2:23pm
post #11 of 20

We haven't used a virtual school, but we had originally planned to when we started considering homeschool for dd (going into 8th grade this year). The reasons we eventually decided against it are basically the first paragraph of 4evermom's post above. We heard from folks who had done it that the work they assign is comparable in time to a "class hour" in school. At least for the school we were considering, they want the kids to be doing their program for 6 to 7 hours per day. Seemed to me that the only way the kids would be doing that many hours per day would be in busywork, and when we took into consideration all the wasted time in a school class hour, to require the same time at home seemed ridiculous. We decided it was likely to be too rigid and dull for dd to enjoy (she is a quick learner and very creative). I did like the idea of leaning on another entity to do the planning, recordkeeping, attendance etc. -- but when we really considered it, it wasn't going to be worth it for us.

Of course, it may be a little different in late middle school where the workload is quite a bit larger than in elementary.

post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone for your responses, I really appreciate the input. DH and I talked about it and we will not be doing K12, it is not right for our family. . I don't want DS, or I, to feel pressured to do anything he isn't ready for or interested in.

I went through the Rainbow Resources catalog and made a list of the curriculums I am interested and will go from there. I know this will be easier than I think, I just need to get organized orngbiggrin.gif
post #13 of 20

i agree that it might be nice to have it free and ready to go for you....i too have been tempted by that.  however, in the end i decided against it...not just because i dont want someone looking over our shoulder...but because i want freedom, extreme flexibility, ability to tailor the education to the child's to their individual abilities/interests, etc.  i dont like the idea of having to log on every single day, take thier tests, answer to their teachers, etc.  if we want to do science "class" at the local aviary, i want to be able to do that, ya know?

post #14 of 20

Not all state sponsored virtual schools are the same.  Some offer only prescribed curriculum, others let you tailor the program completely.  We went through Columbia Virtual Academy last year and I was quite happy with them.  I used my own curriculum and homeschooled exactly as I would have without them.  They provided a "learning plan" for each required subject, which was basically a list of the topics that would commonly be covered at that particular grade level.  The parents can customize the learning plan, or accept it as is.  Families are assigned a teacher who supports them throughout the year.  They also require a weekly update from the student and monthly report from the parent.  That part is somewhat a hassle, but it keeps you on task.  Sometimes, I would realize how much we managed to accomplish in one month, or how I had let one subject slide.  The upside is that CVA provides funding for classes and supplies.  I felt like I was still in charge of our homeschool experience, but the state was providing funding and ensuring that I was actually educating my child.  There were a few occasions that I e-mailed our teacher when our chosen curriculum was lacking and she had suggestions for alternative ones, some of them available free online.  I feel like homeschooling is a tough job and we should consider all options for support.

post #15 of 20

I'm glad you decided against it.  I think it can be a good option for some, (I have two friends that use it and love it) but my situation is that I can't home school full time since I have to work.  I was told that I needed to log in at least for two hours a day (Kinder) or he'd be considered truant and 3.5 days a week I'm going to be getting off work at 7 pm.  I highly doubt my 5 year old will want to sit for 2 hours after that to do work. They also told me I couldn't work ahead...aka get all the week's lessons done so one wouldn't have to log in every day.  I was disappointed but it is public school so...that's how it is in brick-and-mortar schools.  I'll likely be doing Rainbow Resource's kinder curriculum starter package.

post #16 of 20

I wanted to respond to The Fragile.  Our experience so far is that K12 does not have expectations on how many hours a day a child is logged in.  Only that the accessments are taken.  This means if your child wants to move forward to the end unit tests, he or she can do that, without completing all the work (all the busy work).  I have two kids in K12 both in 6th.  Sometimes they are doing all the work, because they find it interesting, and want to take their time, and sometimes they realize they need to move ahead and finish it by taking the end unit test.  I don't say what they should do.  They decide.  But truthfully, they find much of the work interesting. 


The most important thing this program urges is that students "master" each unit.  This does not mean that they must do all the work.


We do need to sign in every day for attendance.  That means that you must enter your child's hours they studied.  I click on each subject and it automatically assigns a time that it should take to do this particular unit.  I go with that.  You need to log in from some computer every day for attendance.  Doesn''t mean your home computer.  We can home school all over the place with the laptop.


I hate to say it, but I think many people are listening to the negative talk about virtual schools, and not actually following through to ask all the important questions to the right person in the school.  I really think this is a good fit for my two girls.  Maybe one of them won't want to do it again next year, but I doubt it.  They have a lot of control over what they do every day with this, and there are no arguments with mom about when it needs to be done, or if it needs to be done. I was also told that if we didn't like it, we could send the books back at K12's expense, and keep on truck'n.

post #17 of 20


I think virtual schools work for some people, not for others (whether it's a state virtual school, frankly, or simply the virtual school that they're paying for, just like they'd pay for other curricula). 

I'm glad the OP has found a solution that will work for her family. 

That said - having used a public virtual school for two years (Wyoming K12) - we've been able to move at our own pace, doing first grade math during K and second grade reading during first grade.  We've done subjects in "unit study" set-ups, and following the k12 automatic schedule as well.  We skip busy-work (which they encourage us to do:  "Once student understands the concepts then move to the assessment."). 

We were told that we'd need to put X hours/day into our lesson times.  And told we'd need to enter attendance daily.  Both of these are so the public virtual school can meet state standards.  The reality (which I believe administrators and teachers both recognize) is that when the class size is that small, it simply doesn't take an hour to get through the lesson (unless the student is really, really struggling or really, really doing enrichment beyond what's in the lesson!).  And they realize that sometimes families are doing the work on the weekend and entering attendance that Monday and Tuesday (while not doing school those days because you're doing something else).  So, like Jyotsna, we simply enter the default attendance for the lessons we do.  If we do *more* (ie, go to a museum that day, or something) - then we enter additional time for that subject.  And frankly, I have gone several days forgetting to enter attendance at all, and you can go back and enter it retroactively - I've never been contacted about it.  It's been fine.  Also, we have substituted other books or activities for lessons (ie, my daughter doesn't like the violence of most fairy tales, so we will read a different book instead of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.")  And, we were able to progress rapidly via Unit Assessments etc. when she obviously knew things in math, rather than wasting time 'teaching' her something she already knew.  We do let them know when we'll be traveling, since sometimes that means we don't have internet access and will be working offline and entering attendance once we do have internet access, but they've never been concerned about that. 

For us, our public virtual school was a result of me being panicked about picking the "best" curriculum for our daughter's K.  There were so many options, I couldn't decide, and ended up defaulting to k12 figuring it met state standards, it was free, and I could figure out a curriculum for us to do as 'regular' homeschoolers the next year.  Also, I am a master procrastinator, so I was a little worried that I'd put things off and discover in March that I hadn't been doing enough school for the year ....  Or only doing the subjects that Ina and I enjoyed, rather than all of them.  In the end, we ended up liking our virtual school experience enough that we stuck with it.  That may change - we don't have to participate in the public school testing 'til 3rd grade, and then we may decide that we would rather switch to our own curriculum at that point, depending on how it goes and how we feel about it. 

I think virtual schools can be a really good way for someone who's worried about transitioning to homeschooling to "get their feet wet."  They can also be a good way to get your family members comfortable with the idea that you're homeschooling (we had a lot of people relieved that it was "still public school" eyesroll.gif ).  I think the best way to discover whether it will work for your family, or not, is to really understand what it's like, in your own state (as it does vary). 

post #18 of 20

We love the cyber charter school that we use. It's free but provides us with many, many benefits. We are using the entire Calvert Curriculum (free of charge). There is little computer time required-I am the primary teacher so I feel like it's the best of both worlds. I like having our child on someone's radar-and it helps me to keep on top of things without sending my child to a school district that is less then ideal. Our school is a charter school-not a state school. However, students and teachers alike do answer to the state so there is testing twice per year. So far they have been very accomodating and helpful. I really feel like it's the best fit for our family. There is a team approach with each child. Any issues we've had have been quickly resolved.

I can't say enough good.

post #19 of 20

I am happy to see this thread. I am hs-ing my older son this year for the first time (he's 9) and, to the horror of my other hs-ing friends, am using the state K12 program. He was just officially accepted today and I am a little freaked.

I've chosen this course with both eyes open, I think. Lots of structure and accountability will be good for both of us, to get into good habits I believe. Since we are both on the AD/HD spectrum, getting into good habits is a major goal for me this year.

He is a quick kid, easily distracted, so I think that being able to bang out the work on his own schedule (and yet, a consistent schedule) will be good for him. I'm also looking forward to more free time for physical activity, creative pursuits, and just hanging out.

Thanks and good luck to all schooling mamas! My younger son is starting first grade and is doing very well with public school -- it will be a strange year for me.

post #20 of 20

I think it is OK  to give the eschools a try.Each is different and like PS every year will be different too. I used one for K. There is some material your child must do,but many other things are left up to you to decide on. I would try them again if my kids leave private school.  I would not hesitate to try differrent eschools to make sure we tried all options.

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