Principal says Omaha Virtual School is evolving
Jan. 15, 2018
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Enrollment has climbed amid changes for the Omaha Public Schools' experiment in online learning.
Omaha Virtual School is evolving, principal Wendy Loewenstein told the Omaha World-Herald , adding: "But it's where we want it to be."
The school enables students to learn at their own pace through a mix of online and in-class instruction. The free program serves home-schooled students using the online K12 Classroom LLC curriculum bought by the district. The students attend classes led by district teachers at least once a week.
Kids may take a class or two to supplement their home-school curriculum or take a full slate that includes language arts, math, science and social studies.
This year the program serves roughly 210 students in kindergarten through ninth grade. Enrollment was around 130 at the end of the 2016-17 school year, the program's first year, when class offerings went only through eighth grade. Tenth grade will be added next year.
Some families opted out of the program partway or after the 2016-17 school year. Some struggled with the technology-heavy curriculum and wanted more in-class teacher time. Other families reported that they preferred the independence of full-time home-schooling.
"Sometimes this isn't a good fit for a family," Loewenstein said.
The school's 13 ninth-graders have classes at Metropolitan Community College's Fort Omaha campus. The location of the other classrooms has shifted from the bustling Do Space digital library to a quieter former office space.
The first batch of scores from the 2016-17 Nebraska State Accountability tests will serve as a baseline for the program, Loewenstein said.
In some subjects and grade levels — for example, third-grade English language arts — Virtual School students scored higher than the district average. But similar to other district schools, Virtual School scores dropped at the middle school level.
Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com