New Report by DC Think Tank Shines Light on Problems at CAVA

Many of you may have seen news articles about a research report released this week that details some of the problems CAVA is experiencing in areas such as student achievement, teacher turnover, and school oversight. The report also raises issue about the troubling relationship between CAVA and K12.

This report was released by In The Public Interest, a think tank based in Washington, DC. They explore how Virtual Education is functioning at CAVA, and pay attention to the influence of for-profit corporations such as K12 Inc. on decisions that impact local students.

If you have some time, we would suggest you read the report.  You can find it on the In the Public Interest website here. There have also been numerous articles about the report, including in the SJ Mercury News, Ed Source and Buzzfeed.

Several CAVA staff members had an opportunity to speak to the report creators, and provided input based on their experiences teaching in this environment.  Hopefully the attention the report brings to some of the problems at CAVA will lead to remedies that will make our school better for our students.

3 thoughts on “New Report by DC Think Tank Shines Light on Problems at CAVA

  1. As a CAVA teacher, I am most concerned about the rapid and continuous turnover in teaching staff at CAVA. I love what I do, and the way I am able to work with my students, but I feel so frustrated for the students when they have 2-3 different teachers in their classes (which causes serious problems with grading continuity and expectations) as well as the additional burden it puts on the staff. I am also concerned by how teachers are being asked to take on different courses EVERY semester with no regards for continuity in teaching… truthfully, these are my two major concerns with CAVA. The students don’t get the benefit of dedicated and focused teachers which is what they need for success.

  2. As a former Public School Administrator and teacher, a few of the stated ‘negatives’ in the report actually should be considered in a different light. While I completely agree that CAVA has MANY issues with student achievement, this report does not reflect the true picture of CAVA vs. the public system.

    Enrollment of SPED: As with any program, parents need to made clearly aware of what CAVA is able to provide. Expecting services far and above what the school can provide is a detriment to the students – just as promising those services, and not providing, is. Mod/Severe students are not appropriately placed when they are with CAVA and the LEAs should be addressing this directly with the parents. CAVA should be held to the standard of clearly addressing what they are, and are not, able to provide. ADA and state laws do not mandate that students be enrolled in just any program – they mandate enrollment in an appropriate program for their needs. It is OK to say no as long as you are able to appropriately document the reasons why students would not be best-served in our system. One thing that does concern me is the lack of district LEA attendance at the IEP meetings, they are just a culpable to the students needs as CAVA – why are they not in attendance?

    EL Enrollment: given the high ‘reading’ requirements for CAVA (which, yes, should be addressed to support our population) it is completely understandable why our EL population is low. Students that cannot read/write well in the English Language will not succeed with the current CAVA program (which again, should be addressed). I would much rather see them in the public/charter classroom receiving proper support that to have them flounder in our system where they are left to their own devices to gain the necessary English acquisition. Given that we know many students already do not take advantage of all that CAVA and the teachers offer, this population would be sorely under-served through our program no matter how many supports were available/offered.

    Graduation rate: Again, coming from the alternative education program within the public system, I can assure you that students who graduate from CAVA will have a much better base of knowledge/skill than many coming out of the public system. Mandatory age-advancement in the public system requires that students be pushed forward no-matter-what their current achievement level, where at CAVA they MUST show proficiency to pass. Nothing was stated in the report about how we work with students to gain mastery and skills far beyond the public system. ‘Graduation’ should be the true mastery of skill/knowledge, not just a ticket out of the system. My honest personal experience is that district graduation rates would be much much lower if they showed their true numbers based upon true mastery and achievement.

    API/Achievement: The lack of mandatory requirements within the CAVA system put the teachers/school at a huge disadvantage. Students that do not complete testing (or do so under duress) are not in any way held accountable. While the teachers do a good job meeting the 95% testing requirement, I do not feel that the students really show their abilities when taking the exams. They are not ‘required’ to do anything outside of the main curriculum which sets the standard of compliance very low. When the bar is set low, students will only do what is required to meet that standard. Higher expectations for activities within the program NEED to be set and held so that students are challenged to a higher standard.

    I WANT CAVA to be a great school, but consistently highlighting the failings of the system to the detriment of the teachers/students/staff that are dedicated to making it a great school will undermine the system completely. I would hope that everyone is keeping in mind that the more we focus on the negatives the more likely our CAVA will no longer be allowed to exist. We have to find a way, as a union, to begin the process of healing what is now turning in to a huge gaping wound in virtual education… what are we doing, as a group, to bring out the positives that teachers are doing every day so that the powers-that-be (the state) will take us seriously and not undermine what we all know could be one of the best systems in the nation?

    • I have been with CAVA for 2 1/2 years, and I love my job. It has been my experience that CAVA teachers are dedicated to student achievement, not only academically but in their personal lives. I have seen more dedication here than in the public schools where I previously worked, and this includes many of those in leadership positions. I understand that CAVA faces some serious challenges, as does every other district in the state (and across the country). In our quest for improvement, let’s please not forget all the good that CAVA does. As educators, we know that we must sandwich criticism between praise so that students and families do not become discouraged. In the same way, we must make sure to acknowledge the achievements of our schools while we address the deficiencies, or risk disillusionment and greater turnover of discouraged teachers who only hear about the failings.

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