My son is finishing his second year with K12/GCA. I myself am an educator, so I know a lot about curriculum. Overall, we are very pleased with this program. But to make this a good review, I need to separate out three things and how I view their interconnection: K12, Georgia Cyber Academy, and national standards.
First, let me address K12. As a veteran educator who teaches online and develops online content, this is pretty high quality material. Yes, it’s quite enough to keep most kids busy. There is a lot of work, but if you develop a schedule and routine, it’s entirely do-able. I’m sorry, but I’m not an apologist for challenging work. Students rise to the expectations, in most cases. My favorite materials are the vocabulary lessons, which are based in classical roots. I saw my son, whose favorite subject isn’t language arts, make some considerable leaps due to the quality of this part of the content. The weakest portion, oddly enough, is the assessment section of the literature content. The questions are nitpicky, multiple choice nightmares. For example, “Which of the following describes Romeo at the beginning of the play? a. sad, b. unhappy, c. despondent, or d. relieved.” This clearly needs some work. But overall, I have to give high marks to the curriculum. We, as a family, wanted non-religious curriculum, and it was not easy to find something ready-made of good quality.
Second, K12 “powers” Georgia Cyber Academy. Our experiences with the teachers (7th, 8th, 9th grade) have been very positive. They are willing to let students accelerate in some subjects while working on grade level with others. This kind of flexibility is simply not available in any of the brick and mortar public schools where we live. I am sometimes appalled that more students don’t complete the required work (and we have to suffer through endless emails about it, begging students to show up for testing or complete Study Island pathways), but that’s not the fault of the teachers, the school, or K12. My only complaint about GCA is their attempt at integrating low-quality 3rd party add-ons like the fault-filled USA Test Prep or the faux Facebook for teens, Edmodo. I hope those things go far, far away next year. By contrast, Study Island has always been relatively error free and well maintained, from a content perspective.
Finally, a word about national standards and standardized testing. I have no problem with a clear set of national expectations. I have no problem with some kind of standardized assessment. I do have a problem with how testing is implemented in the US, Georgia in particular (Scantrons twice a year, 5-8 days of face-to-face testing, depending on if you accelerate). Why does a student who completed the 8th grade Milestones (CRCT, whatever it’s called this week) a year ago have to retake it in addition to the 9th grade EOCT in the same subject, if he’s actually in the 9th grade course?? Again, this is not something K12 or GCA chooses — it’s a state requirement. I get it, but I also find it incredibly tiresome. I personally would prefer a nationally normed test like the ITBS.
Overall, considering the options, I recommend K12. It’s academically strong. It’s flexible. And for other parents like me, who seek a non-religious curriculum, it’s a good choice.