Letter to the editor: Maine Virtual Academy has improved since release of critical report

Originally published in The Portland Press Herald.

A student’s success there shows why online charter schools are such an important option.Share

An Aug. 11 article in the Portland Press Herald, “Struggling Maine Virtual Academy looks to renew charter for online education,” cites a third-party report critical of the school. While this report did reflect some concerns at the school at the time, it failed to capture the school’s consistent improvement over four years.

Since 2015-16, MEVA improved its graduation rate by 23 percentage points, increased retention by 20 points and decreased chronic absenteeism by 27 points. The report’s merits were additionally limited by the fact that the researcher did not visit MEVA’s headquarters or interview the full teaching staff.

As a member of the MEVA founding governing board, I am extremely proud of the gains our academic team has made. We’ve maintained an unwavering focus on students and a commitment to providing excellent services to families, as evidenced by consistent high marks on our school climate surveys.

Like every public school, there is room for improvement. Working collaboratively with our authorizer, the Maine Charter School Commission, our school has a plan to achieve goals at the school level and increase individual student achievement. And we have demonstrated the capacity to do so through data-driven, targeted instruction, continuous collaboration and professional development.

Students like Zachary Beggs and his mother, Corina – who bravely shared their story with the Press Herald on why they chose MEVA – show us why online charter schools are such an important education option. Zach was bullied in a traditional school, and his family needed additional flexibility to care for his ailing father. Zach is succeeding and entering his senior year at MEVA with aspirations of continuing his education beyond high school.

Online charter schools are not for every student, but they are a critical option for some kids, like Zach – and often the only public school alternative families in Maine can access.

Amy Carlisle

founding governing board chair, Maine Virtual Academy

Falmouth

Learn more about Maine Virtual Academy by visiting, https://meva.k12.com/ .

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