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COVA Board Statement on Recently Published News Story

Statement from the Colorado Virtual Academy Board of Directors

KUNC released another disappointing and largely misleading account of our school, Colorado Virtual Academy (COVA). It mischaracterized the school, our team, our teachers, and the online school instructional model. Unfortunately, this happened despite our school going above and beyond to provide the reporter the information she requested, including meeting at the COVA office with board members and staff. While she includes complaints from a disgruntled former teacher, the reporter repeatedly declined opportunities to meet with and speak with many satisfied COVA teachers for a fair and comprehensive view. The reporter also failed to include parents and students who work directly with COVA teachers.

The article never addressed the unique aspects of the online school instructional model, such as how leveraging technology can free up substantial time for teachers to deal more directly with students. Also, how online school teachers do not have to handle the difficult challenges of classroom management, and the fact that an online teacher with 175 to 200 students may only be teaching one or two different classes, rather than the five classes of a traditional high school teacher.

By ignoring the fact that online schools use a unique instructional model that is different from traditional schools, then making simple apples-to-apples comparison between online schools and traditional schools, the reporter created a misleading and inaccurate account of how online schools like COVA operate. The article also failed to account for all the instructors at COVA, in spite of the fact that it was explained to the reporter. Our school uses a team-teaching approach with many certified instructors that have different roles and responsibilities. They include; general education teachers, special education teachers, subject-level content experts, elective teachers, lead teachers, advisors and counselors. COVA students are often assigned multiple teachers who are responsible for instruction and individualized student support. Individual teachers will have different levels of students they oversee (as is the case in all schools), but when combined, COVA’s overall certified teacher to student ratio is comparable to other online public schools and traditional public schools.

Contrary to the article, there was no “apparent discrepancy” in the school’s financial records. That section of the financial audit merely commented that the line item for instructional support had increased 6% from 2010 to 2011. That increase was clearly explained to the reporter. COVA was able to enroll additional students throughout the fall of 2011. The additional students brought additional expenses, including curriculum, materials, technology and teachers (some of these additional teachers were employed by K¹², the school’s curriculum and services provider). Other additional expenses were related to improvements in the instructional model such as adding Instructional Coaches to help improve teaching and thus improve student achievement. All of these expenses were accounted for and reviewed as part of the school’s annual audit. There were no findings in the audit associated with those expenses.

The COVA board is an independent nonprofit school board. Our school is authorized Adams 12 School District. Our school is held to the same academic and accountability standards as other public schools in the state. The COVA board oversees the school’s budget and operations, and the COVA teachers are employees of the school. Our teachers are some of the best, brightest and caring educators. Many of our teachers formerly taught in traditional schools. COVA provided these teachers a new opportunity and they chose to teach at COVA to work with families and help students achieve success. We’re proud of our teachers and we know our teachers are proud of COVA.

COVA Board of Trustees

Tim Booker, President      Lori Cooney, Vice President

Randy DeHoff                  Jeri Bisbee