CHARLESTON – While students at West Virginia public schools spent much of last school year in a virtual learning environment, officials at the state’s charter schools are hoping that two schools will be approved for approval. statewide virtual public charters will be an improvement.
The four-member West Virginia Professional Charter School Board approved the first two statewide virtual charter schools on Wednesday.
Board members approved applications for the Virtual Preparatory Academy of West Virginia and Mountain State Learning Solutions, also known as West Virginia Virtual Academy.
House Bill 2012 does not allow more than two statewide virtual charter schools with an enrollment cap of 5% of state enrollment each school year.
It also allows county virtual charter schools with an enrollment cap of 10% of total enrollment in county public schools. No applications were submitted for County Virtual Charter Schools.
“The West Virginia Professional Charter School Board licenses the West Virginia Virtual Academy and the Virtual Preparatory Academy of West Virginia as virtual public charter schools based on meeting established subjective criteria and the merits of the law,” based on documented evidence in their respective applications. , and each candidate’s demonstrated plan to provide a career-oriented education that will help students prepare for well-paying jobs, ”said Adam Kissel, Chair of the Professional Charter School Board.
Three applications were received for statewide virtual public charter schools, including the West Virginia Connections Academy which was refused application. While West Virginia Connections Academy qualified to be a virtual public charter school, with only two statewide virtual charters allowed, Kissel said applications from the Virtual Preparatory Academy of West Virginia and the West Virginia Virtual Academy were more focused on career-oriented education.
“A career goal is less well demonstrated by this candidate compared to other candidates,” Kissel said. In addition, West Virginia Connections Academy plans to begin operations with grade 11 and 12 students, while (Virtual Preparatory Academy of West Virginia and West Virginia Virtual Academy) plans to move to these classes in grades 2 and 3. years. “
Many virtual charter school programs offer programs that allow students to learn at their own pace, using live teachers or pre-recorded lessons. According to the Digital Learning Collaborative 2020 report, virtual charter schools have seen an increase in enrollments from last year during the COVID-19 pandemic. They cite a 64% increase in enrollment at Florida Virtual School, a 40% increase in enrollment at K12 Inc., one of the nation’s largest virtual education providers.
On the other hand, state public education officials have cited the use of virtual and distance learning as one of the key factors in the decline in student learning over the course of the year. last school year.
According to the results of the West Virginia State Summative Assessment in 2021 for Grades 3 to 8 and 11, math scores fell 11 points between the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 school years , while scores in English / Linguistic Arts and Science fell by six points over the same period. period of time. Schools this school year were primarily in-person, except in case-by-case circumstances related to the spread of COVID-19.
Seven applicants applied to the public charter school pilot program created in 2019 by Bill 206, although Shepherd Aviation Academy – a proposed charter school for Jefferson and Berkeley counties focused on science education, of Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) – withdrew. Applicants had until August 31 to submit their candidacy.
The board of trustees last week approved nominations for the state’s top three public charter schools: Nitro Preparatory Academy in Kanawha County, Panhandle Preparatory Academy in Jefferson County, and West Virginia Academy in County of Monongalia.
HB 2012 extended the maximum number of public charter schools allowed in the public charter school pilot program established in 2019 from three to 10 schools over a three-year period. Board members Karen Bailey-Chapman and Dewayne Duncan said they hope the Legislature will amend the law to allow more virtual charter schools in cases where fewer than 10 school applications physical charters are received.
“I was a little surprised at the increased interest in virtual licensing,” Bailey-Chapman said. “If there really is this demand in the state of West Virginia for more virtual options, then perhaps later the legislature could consider transferring one of the existing license openings or expanding more opportunities for virtual education options. if the market so decides.
“This is a historic day for West Virginia when it comes to education,” Duncan said. “With the permission of these physical and online programs, it opens up a world of opportunity for West Virginia students and their families. These candidates are exceptional and I have every confidence in the world that they will do a wonderful job in West Virginia.