NASHVILLE, Tenn., March 25, 2015 – As PublicSchoolOptions.org (PSO) continues to aid Tennessee families in their fight to prevent bureaucrats in the state Department of Education from closing the Tennessee Virtual Academy (TNVA), we are highlighting families who have chosen public virtual schools as the best fit for their children. For more information or to talk to virtual school families, please contact PSO.
Family: The Norrods of Manchester, Tennessee
Parents: Ben and Samantha
Children: Elisabeth (Second Grade) and Annalise (Kindergarten)
Their story: Our schedules are complex and busy; therefore, the sensible choice would seem to be a conventional brick and mortar public school. However, one of the primary reasons my wife and I chose Tennessee Virtual Academy is because we are willing to sacrifice the convenience of a brick and mortar school to support what is quickly becoming the future of all educational programs in the United States: Online education. TNVA offers a spectacular curriculum with the fiscal, parental, and skill-based support needed for TNVA teachers and administrators to help educate our children. TNVA offers parents the privilege of overseeing and participating in our children’s learning processes and academic developments. The message is clear to the parents of TNVA: our school’s teachers and administrators are clearly sensitive to the product of education and the modernization of the online learning model. I support TNVA because I have witnessed both of my children prosper in their educational journeys. My youngest daughter, Annalise, learned to read in five short months with TNVA. My oldest daughter, Elisabeth, overcame extreme shyness with the quasi-anonymity of the class connect sessions. Both children are excelling academically and are top students in TNVA. Additionally, with the new Common Core philosophies and standards instituted in the State of Tennessee we do not believe a customary brick and mortar school will be as successful in providing the learning environment TNVA does under these new learning guidelines.
The unfair treatment of TNVA and its 1,300 public school students, many of whom are special needs and at-risk students, has forced parents to file a lawsuit against the commissioner of education for unlawfully ordering the school to close. The Department of Education is ignoring tremendous progress the virtual public school made last year.
TNVA is a public school run by Union County Public Schools and ultimately reports to the elected Union County school board. After Union County opened the school in 2011, and worked to transition students to an online learning model, the department’s own data revealed TNVA began significantly improving its student outcomes from 2013 to 2014. In fact, last year TNVA realized improvements seven times greater than schools with the same level rating, despite facing several unique challenges, including serving a higher percentage of special education and low-income students than the state average. Fifteen percent of TNVA students receive special education services, and 74 percent of its families qualify for free/reduced lunches, according to Union County.
There are 1,300 unique students and 1,300 unique stories as to how and why TNVA is working to meet student and family needs – students who are excelling or who are far behind; students with significant and, in some cases, debilitating or even life-threatening illnesses; students who have been threatened or bullied; students with special needs, including many students with autism, who find it difficult to achieve in a traditional classroom.