K12’s second Academic Report, released today, is a thorough and candid review of the performance of the 42 online schools it supports, including detailed profiles and subject area analysis.

Rapid enrollment growth in 2012-13 included more diverse and high need students.  In some schools, more than 1 in 5 students have special needs. Almost 7 in 10 students live in or near poverty. It’s clear that low income families not well served by traditional schools continue to seek alternatives.

For comparable growth metrics, K12 uses adaptive nationally normed pre- and post Scantron assessments. Results show that K12-managed schools achieved 125% norm group gain in reading across all grades in the 2012–2013 school year. Gains were better in intermediate grades than last year, a bit lower in grades 8-10.

K12-managed public schools were just slightly better than the national average in math–a little better in elementary, a little worse in grades 8-10.

CAO Margaret Jorgensen, noted that like other public schools, poverty and mobility have huge impacts on achievement. Students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch did not perform as well as students not eligible for meal subsidies. Students who stay enrolled more than 3 years in a K12–managed public school do better than students who stay for only one or two years.

The report concluded that while K12-managed schools are improving academic achievement at many grades, they need to make greater progress toward higher levels of proficiency.

Last year some critics noted that not all students were assessed. Student participation increased from 74% in 2012 to 88% in 2013.

The report highlights five strategies for supporting student engagement:

  • Strong Start: support for newly enrolled and returning families.
  • Family Academic Support Teams helping students overcome non-academic barriers to learning, including family, health, psychological, or social issues that create obstacles for some families.
  • Student Homeroom/Advisory sessions ensure that high school students have a regular time and space for engaging with fellow classmates and a caring Homeroom/Advisory teacher on a wide range of topics.
  • Social Emotional Learning curriculum at the Chicago YCCS dropout recovery program shows that the Homeroom/Advisory class is also the ideal platform for using Social Emotional Learning programs to help students build resilience, self-confidence, and hope.
  • College and Career Workshops are available weekly nationwide.

Each student receives an Individualized Learning Plan designed to organize curriculum and instruction appropriate to each child’s unique strengths, weaknesses, and aptitudes.

Four students support services boost academic success:

  • Study Island Pathways test prep program is used in many K12 schools.
  • National Math Lab provides synchronous direct instruction in math.
  • Credit Recovery Programs are used in some K12-managed high schools.
  • High School Fluency Courses in World Language, based on Middlebury College’s immersion methodology, were first offered by K12 in 2012–2013.

Ninth grade is the highest enrollment grade in the full-time online schools and the high school grades are the fastest growing student population–a challenge because many enroll late, behind grade level, and off track to graduate.

CEO Nate Davis said the report signals the company’s “commitment to accountability and transparency.”

K12 is a Getting Smart Advocacy Partner. 

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