Louisiana Virtual Academy 1

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1 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1. Provide an Executive Summary (in three to five pages) for the proposed school that describes the following: a. A clear statement of the mission, academic philosophy and values; Mission Louisiana Virtual Academy (LAVA), a high-quality, online public charter school, will be accountable for developing each student s full potential by utilizing research-based technology applications, meaningful teacher/student/parent involvement, and engaging, individualized learning. We will produce exemplary levels of student achievement, equipping every student with the academic and nonacademic foundations needed for any postsecondary opportunity they wish to pursue. Academic Philosophy It is our goal that LAVA will be a leading 21 st century public charter school in Louisiana, as evidenced by graduation rates, individualized instruction for all students, and the demonstration of 21 st century skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and self direction. Too many students in both Louisiana and the nation are not graduating from high school at all, or are graduating unready for the expectations of higher education or meaningful careers. This reality, central to CSAL s mission and the mission of the Louisiana Virtual Academy, is not receiving the type of innovative solutions it deserves. More of the same is not going to produce the breakthroughs required. To help meet this challenge, our board believes that we, as a state, need additional instructional models, new ideas, new approaches, and a reaffirmed commitment to ensure our students are college ready. We believe the Louisiana Virtual Academy will provide this type of innovative model for the students we serve, and will provide an example for other public schools to learn from. Charter schools can and should be places for research and development in our public schools. The model we are proposing, tested and successful in over twenty-seven states with our partner, K 12 Virtual Schools LLC, will be new to Louisiana. As we have shown for the past year, we will work with all stakeholders to ensure high levels of accountability and transparency. The U.S. Department of Education recently released Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, the largest study of online learning to date. While online learning is relatively new in K 12 public education, the report notes two important findings (while also encouraging the creation of new models to study): Students who took all or part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction. The effectiveness of online learning approaches appears quite broad across different content and learner types. Our application is submitted in the spirit of creating new models for our students. The academic philosophy of the charter school will be based on using innovations in technology to create and harness the power of individualized learning plans. The common denominator among parents who will choose LAVA for their children and the staff selected to work with us will be a shared belief that not all children learn the same way and that individual students and families should have access to an array of high quality public education options. We will be recognized as a school that is student-centered--looking at each student as an individual and matching teaching methods to individual learning styles and student performance. Our students will define, plan, and work towards achieving their academic and non-academic goals. Students, teachers, parents, learning coaches, and school leaders will share an ethic of cooperation, hard work, and high expectations. We will demonstrate best practices: optimal use of technology in learning and teaching, high quality instruction and curriculum, data-driven decision making, and focused and well-structured instructional practices. The instructional practices in our public charter school will be models for school Louisiana Virtual Academy 1

2 districts in Louisiana to replicate especially in the areas of creating individualized learning plans (ILPs), parent engagement, mastery of standards, web-based and in-person professional development, a detailed instructional model, creating value-added measures of student achievement, and providing successful intervention for students who are struggling. Like all high-performing charter schools, LAVA is committed to data-driven instruction and decision making, responsive governance, across-the-board accountability, and transparency in all aspects of school operations. Values Community School for Apprenticeship Learning, Inc. (CSAL) is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1997 with the purpose of providing students with real world experiences by giving them access to nontraditional forms of instruction. CSAL currently operates brick and mortar middle and high schools centered on individualized attention and motivating students to do their best. We propose now to apply those core values to an innovative instructional model a virtual charter school. The Louisiana Virtual Academy believes that, given a comprehensive and mastery-based curriculum, high expectations, access to technology (computer and Internet), strong instructional support, a significant amount of off-line work, guidance from experienced teachers, and a strong commitment from parents/other responsible adults, an online education program will boost student achievement, serve the unique needs of Louisiana s students and families, and offer a new model for effective public education in the 21st century. b. An overview of the school structure, leadership team and governance; The governing board of Community School of Apprenticeship Learning, Inc. ( Board ) will assume ultimate responsibility for all of the operations and the budget of the school. The CSAL Board of Directors will work with key administrative leaders to set and review the vision, mission, goals, and objectives; establish and review budgets and financial reports, review audit/accounting policies and procedures; approve significant financial transactions; and plan marketing, public relations, and fund development. The Board will have the authority to approve policies and procedures regarding employment and approve all personnel actions. A relationship of governance rather than management will involve the board taking its stewardship responsibilities seriously, seeking to comply with legal obligations, and benchmarking the school s performance against best practices in education programs. The Board will enter into a services agreement for educational, administrative, and technology services related to the operation of LAVA with K 12 Virtual Schools LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of K12 Inc. ( K 12 ) based in Herndon, Virginia. Under the agreement, K 12 will manage the day-to-day operations of LAVA, utilizing the K 12 Curriculum, the K 12 Online School ( OLS ), and K 12 s management services. K 12 was selected based on the proven effectiveness of its curriculum and learning program as demonstrated by state assessment results from the virtual public schools from across the nation that utilize K 12 s virtual school model, and its leadership in the operation and management of virtual public schools in twenty-seven states (including Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas in our region). K 12 will employ Louisiana-certified and highly qualified teachers. Overseeing the educational program will be a professional administrative staff operating from administrative offices in New Orleans. Teachers in the program will be located geographically around the state, working from both the administrative offices as well as their home offices in order to economize on teacher and student transportation costs. The Board will continually monitor progress and implementation and will renew its agreement with K 12 if results meet or exceed mutually agreed upon criteria. When the school charter is authorized, a national search for a highly qualified school leader will be conducted. The principal will work under the direction of CSAL s Executive Director, Dujan Johnson, and will be responsible for implementing the policies and procedures and meeting the goals set by the Board. Upon delegation by the Board, and under the direction of CSAL s Executive Director, the Principal will have the instructional leadership role in LAVA and will report to the Board in that role. LAVA administrative staff will manage the school, handling all day-to-day academic, Louisiana Virtual Academy 2

3 operational, and management issues. They will have leadership experience as school principals or school leaders. Staff will be expected to demonstrate expertise in curriculum, instruction, assessment, finance, facilities, business management, governance and administration. The administrative staff will assist in the development of policies concerning educational and operational issues of LAVA for the LAVA Board consideration and adoption, but the Board itself will retain ultimate responsibility for the adoption of academy policies and for overseeing the administrative staff s implementation of procedures consistent with those policies. The LAVA administrative staff will be structured based on the school s education program and projected enrollment. LAVA teachers will be employees of K 12. K 12 will review recommendations made by LAVA regarding the hiring and dismissal of teachers by K 12, but will have the authority to determine in its sole discretion whether any person to be employed by K 12 as a teacher shall be hired or any teacher employed by K 12 shall be dismissed. c. A description of the school s short- and long-term goals (academic and operational); LAVA will emphasize the Content Standards, the Grade Level Expectations, and the Common Core standards, as well as the development of technological and 21 st century skills that will support students in every aspect of their academic and intellectual development. The goals and corresponding objectives below support that mission: PERFORMANCE OUTCOME Daily Attendance State Tests Diagnostic Tests Matriculation Graduation/Promotion Teacher Retention College Placement Other; describe SCHOOL S INTERNAL GOAL It is the goal of LAVA to maintain a 95% attendance rate as measured through daily attendance records. It is the goal of LAVA that 95% of the student population will score Basic and above in Math and English Language Arts. It is the goal of LAVA that during the first two-years enrollment, students will improve by 10% each year on Scantron Achievement Series testing (adaptive testing engine). It is the goal of LAVA that after two years, all students will achieve at grade-level expectations on the Scantron or other diagnostic tests. It is the goal of LAVA that the matriculation rate will be at least 95%. It is the goal of LAVA that 75% of students who enter as freshmen in 2011; 80% of students who enter as freshmen in 2012; and 85% of students who enter as freshmen in 2013 and beyond will graduate. It is the goal of LAVA to have at least a 90% teacher retention rate in any given year. It is the goal of LAVA that at least 90% of the students that enter as freshmen eventually go on to post-secondary education. It is the goal of LAVA that our annual audits will show exceptional financial responsibility. It is the goal of LAVA that there will be at least 85% (in the first year), 90% (in the second year) and 95% (by the third year) Teacher, Staff, Board, and Parent satisfaction with the school s professional development plan. Upon delegation by the Board, the Principal will have the instructional leadership role in LAVA and will report directly to the Board in that role. The Principal will bear chief responsibility for implementing the school s education program; attaining the school s objectives for high student achievement; managing, evaluating, making recommendations regarding promoting and releasing Louisiana Virtual Academy 3

4 school personnel; creating a school culture that is disciplined, orderly, and conducive to learning; and nurturing a strong relationship among the school, the parents, and the community. The Principal will lead the Student Achievement Improvement Plan (SAIP) process--a primary means of self-evaluation on an annual basis. The SAIP process is a multi-stage planning process which will take into consideration data collected about the success the school is having in reaching its academic and nonacademic goals as stated in measurable terms in the charter application. d. An explanation of the research-base that demonstrates the school model will be effective in improving student achievement; K 12 provides a curriculum which is based on more than fifty years of cognitive science research in the following areas: how students learn the structure of expert knowledge in school subject areas general instructional design principles, including research-based e-learning methods and methods for teaching specific topics and addressing possible misconceptions on those topics Much of this research has not yet been implemented effectively in education despite the fact that key findings were summarized by Jerome Bruner (1960) almost 60 years ago and updated summaries have been published by John Bruer (1993) and many others over the last few decades. To insure that they draw on methods shown by scientific research to be effective in improving learning, K 12 has dedicated an Evaluation and Research team to reviewing and synthesizing cognitive science research and working with course development teams to implement it. The Evaluation and Research team, which is guided by Ph. D.-level cognitive science researchers and statisticians, also conducts original research on new teaching methods and tools in addition to studies of the effectiveness of their curricula. e. An explanation of how this model is appropriate for all students and will lead to higher levels of academic achievement for the target population; Our proposed instructional model is based on K 12 s National Instructional Model (NIM) adapted for Louisiana-specific requirements including a focus on: (1) meeting the Louisiana Content Standards as measured on the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) and the Graduation Exit Examination (GEE), and (2) an intervention plan for struggling learners which adds the support of our state certified teachers online and, as needed, face-to-face at local physical spaces for remediation. Student services such as guidance counseling, diagnostic achievement testing, health services, college and career counseling, coordinated with a detailed instructional model and intensive academic intervention programs will be part of our approach. At the center of both aspects of this approach are the school s Louisiana-certified (and NCLB Highly Qualified) regular and special education teachers. Our instructional model will be a reflection of the reality that student engagement and performance is best achieved through a tight combination of rigorous curriculum and focused innovative instruction. High quality curriculum alone will not achieve the results we seek, nor will great teachers who are not provided with robust curriculum and instructional tools. Our instructional model will include both asynchronous and synchronous instruction. Befitting a leading online school, it is a mostly web-based approach. For some of our students however, a web-based approach alone may not be enough. For these at-risk students, we are proposing an intervention model to be included as part of a student s Individual Learning Plan. We ve estimated that for about 35% of our student body, our at risk students, a webbased approach alone will not be enough. For these students, we are proposing an intervention model to be included as part of a student s Individual Learning Plan consisting primarily of targeted web-based interventions which seek to identify and remediate gaps in skills and content (including study skills, habits, levels of engagement and motivation, etc.). If these interventions are not enough, we will also Louisiana Virtual Academy 4

5 utilize learning centers as needed so that teachers can work with students in face-to-face instruction. The amount of time students are asked to spend at the Learning Centers will be determined by the extent of the students academic and social needs. K 12 has proven success with at risk students like the students that CSAL focuses on its current schools: On behalf of the Mississippi Department of Education, K 12 Discovery School model was used in three Title I elementary schools to improve daily math and science instruction in the district s three elementary schools. After one year, we helped increase the percentage of students who scored proficient or above on the MCT2 math assessment by 10% compared with a state average percentage gain of 2%. On the MCT2 science assessment, we helped increase the percentage of students who scored proficient or above by 11% compared with a state average percentage gain also of 2%. Results of the spring MCT2 Math assessment show even greater gains: the percent of students scoring proficient or above on the MCT2 math assessment soared--with proficiency rates increasing in the three schools between 15% and 50% from 2008 to Science proficiency scores for 5 th graders rose between 10% and nearly 25% over the same three years. In school year , K 12 was hired by Louisiana s Recovery School District, the state s vehicle for school takeovers, to provide instructional leadership at Sarah T. Reed Senior High School in New Orleans. K 12 helped secure grants which enabled the school to reorganize into three STEM-themed academies (Academy of Information Technology, Academy of Engineering, and Academy of Health Sciences). In just one year, Sarah T. Reed had turned around it was among only a handful of high schools in Louisiana to achieve double-digit gains on state test results (LEAP, ilea, GEE) in math, language arts, science, and social studies and posted among the greatest percentage test gains of any high school in the state. f. An explanation of the school s core values about teaching and learning. The common denominator among parents who will choose LAVA for their children and the staff selected to work with us will be a shared belief that not all children learn the same way and that individual students and families should have access to an array of high quality public education options. We will be recognized as a school that is student-centered--looking at each student as an individual and matching teaching methods to individual learning styles and student performance. Our students will define, plan, and work towards achieving their academic and non-academic goals. Students, teachers, parents, learning coaches, and school leaders will share an ethic of cooperation, hard work, and high expectations. We will demonstrate best practices: optimal use of technology in learning and teaching, high quality instruction and curriculum, data-driven decision making, and focused and well-structured instructional practices. The instructional practices in our public charter school will be models for school districts in Louisiana to replicate especially in the areas of creating individualized learning plans (ILPs), parent engagement, mastery of standards, web-based and in-person professional development, a detailed instructional model, creating value-added measures of student achievement, and providing successful intervention for students who are struggling. Like all high-performing charter schools, LAVA is committed to data-driven instruction and decision making, responsive governance, across-the-board accountability, and transparency in all aspects of school operations. Louisiana Virtual Academy 5

6 Louisiana Virtual Academy 6

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