The Tymoszuk family enrolled in TN Virtual Academy this summer
Tennessee's only public, virtual school program is gearing up for the second year of "class" this fall.
Following some criticism over student performance last year, program administrators are developing plans to improve.
"We're working on improving our scores," said academy head Josh Williams.
His statement is in response to state figures showing the academy fell into the bottom 11 percent of schools for student gains as measured under the state's value-added assessment system. The cyber school scored a 1 on the 5-point scale.
"Just like any other public school across the state that made those same scores, we're working on improving those scores," Williams said.
"We have many things planned as we move forward. I've been in constant contact with the state department during the summer to run over these plans and they seem excited about our plans moving forward."
Those plans include adding "PLC's" - Professional Learning Communities - throughout the school, more live sessions between students and teachers, and a stronger focus on test preparation.
The Academy opened in July 2011 in a partnership with the Union County School District, following the new Virtual Public Schools Act. The school is operated through the for-profit company K12 Inc., the largest provider of online school programs in the nation.
As the enrollment numbers continue to grow - from 1,800 at the start of last school year, to 3,000 this fall - Williams remains optimistic the test scores will improve.
"Our teachers are optimistic, our administrative staff is optimistic. I feel comfortable in our plans moving forward that we can increase these gains," he said.
Families, too, are optimistic. Donna Tymoszuk enrolled her two daughters, Katie and Stephanie, this fall.
"The flexibility in our schedules really really was the plus, was the major reason why we looked at it," said Tymoszuk, whose athletic daughters keep a busy practice and competition schedule. "The second reason is the ability to advance further and learn as we're going."
So far, she is pleased with the process.
"I think they will excel, because already they're being challenged with books, and advance learning right now," she said.
One suggestion Tymoszuk has for the future of the program: adding high school grade levels. It's a project Williams says the Academy is working toward for the 2013-14 school year.