The Tennessee Virtual Academy is taking heat once again after an internal letter leaked over possible grade changing.
The letter was sent to middle school teachers in the program on
December 13, stating lower grades at the start of the school year will
adversely affect final scores and does not reflect a student's learning
School leaders confirmed the email from school leaders. 10News
obtained the email from Knoxville state Representative Gloria Johnson
(D), a vocal critic of the program.
"Any Fs, delete those grades? I have never heard of such a thing," she said from Nashville Tuesday in response to the email.
TNVA is operated by Union County and for-profit company K-12.
The letter said, "Take out the October and September progress; delete it so that all is showing is November progress."
It also asked teachers "If you have given an assignment and most of
your students failed that assignment, then you need to take that grade
Rep. Johnson said the letter is another sign the virtual academy is not properly serving the students.
"It failed the students, it lied to parents and they cheated the
taxpayers," said Rep. Johnson. "This is not acceptable when you have
corporate entities involved in education, their bottom line is profit."
This was the complete response of the email from head of the school, Josh Williams 10News received:
"I understand there can be some confusion around how we structured
our grading system, especially when a single email is taken out of
context. TNVA is an online school with a mastery-based approach to
learning. We developed a grading system and modified it to be more
consistent with our mastery-based approach. The important point is that
TNVA students earned the grades they received.
Our academic team simply modified our internal grading procedures to
recognize middle school students' most recent progress and unit
assessment scores rather than averaging a series of scores. Consistent
with our school's unique mastery-based learning model, this modification
was designed to help increase student engagement by rewarding students
who made an extra effort to master the material and improve their
scores. TNVA students earn the grades they receive. Our decision did
not impact the integrity of our grading system and had no relationship
to any state tests.
In schools all across Tennessee, principals, academic leaders, and
teachers develop their own internal grading procedures and policies.
They can vary by school , course and class. The decision by our
academic team was made carefully and with the best interest of our
students in mind. Our goal as educators is to advance student learning
by finding the best ways to measure individual student progress,
identify gaps, and provide remediation, enrichment, and academic support
to meet the individual needs of all students."
Two weeks ago, 10News reported on the TNVA's low TCAP scores. It prompted Governor Haslam to propose a cap on student enrollment, which is still in the legislature.
Another bill was proposed Tuesday from Jackson State Senator Lowe Finney and Nashville State Representative Mike Stewart that would remove the school altogether.