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The changing face of online learning: Offering options in a growing district

K12-supported virtual school eases burden on burgeoning classrooms

For a Colorado public school system bursting at the seams during a crippling economy, online education has been key.

“We are a very crowded school district struggling to pass bonds,” said David Knoche, principal of Falcon Virtual Academy in Colorado Springs. “Falcon Virtual has provided us some real options to deal with outgrowing our buildings while keeping students moving forward academically.”

The school uses K12 curriculum for all K-8 classes, and Aventa Learning by K12 for high school. Soon, the A+ Anywhere Learning System by K12 will offer even more options for an area that includes four military bases, known for very mobile families.

“Sometimes we see that students who’ve moved around a lot have missed something in their educational career,” Knoche said. “We see A+ as a way to fill in gaps where students have lost information at a unit level, not an entire course. If we have to make up an algebra unit on polynomials, we can do that effectively with A+.”

Falcon opened last year with 59 students completing all coursework via the Internet. Today, the school’s 339 students complete most work online, but they also are encouraged to go each week to the school—now housed in a former office building, but soon to be relocated to its own, larger facility.

Teachers hold in-school office hours to ensure students are on pace, and lead classroom-based lessons to address skill deficits and reinforce concepts learned online. They also teach in-school enrichment courses that complement the virtual curriculum.

“Kids who come in have tremendous academic success,” Knoche said. “I think there are going to be some amazing changes district-wide in how we look at blended schools because of what we’re doing at Falcon Virtual.”