Alabama Virtual Academy Grows Due to Pandemic

Originally published by CBS Columbia – March 21, 2021

Over the course of the pandemic, parents have turned to fully virtual schools to find some form of consistency. The Alabama Virtual Academy grew by 1,000 students and even had to find more teachers to meet the demand.

“The 19-20 school year we had 3,000 students K-12 and this school year we increased to 4,000,” said Melissa Larson, the Head of School for Alabama’s Virtual Academy, which is operated by Stride Inc.

Many of the teachers that were hired to meet the increased demand had minimal experience teaching digitally. To help the transition, Stride partnered with Standards for Success. The software company provides real-time digital teacher evaluation.

“Because we see so many new teachers, they still need feedback. It’s critical to find ways to give them feedback,” said Todd Whitlock, the CEO and founder of Standards for Success.

The software allows administrators to plug in a rubric and grade teachers by sitting in on class digitally. Teachers can go back point by point and see the feedback when lessons are finished.

“Observations are not about judging a teacher. It’s about making sure their students are growing,” said Larson.

The platform collects data which can be used to help train future new teachers during the onboarding process. Whitlock says amid the chaos in education this last year, official teacher feedback was paused.

“Many states actually paused their requirement for formal feedback. But we’ve been on a lot of leadership panels and the need is critical to continue to give feedback even through the pandemic,” said Whitlock.

The Alabama Virtual Academy says slowly more colleges are preparing teachers for digital teaching. Many teachers go their first experience because of the pandemic. The virtual academy says emergency virtual education is nothing like what actual virtual academy’s run like.

“I think a lot of people learned it is not the same as teaching in a brick and motor so there is a learning curve involved,” said Larson.

Virtual and physical schools in 39 states have adopted the Standards for Success software. The Alabama Destinations Career Academy is also implementing the teacher feedback software which was created by educators.

To learn more about Alabama Virtual Academy visit, https://alva.k12.com/

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