Monday, October 4, 2010

Negative Review of K12 Online School

My DH just asked me what I was writing about.

"Why I think K12 sucks."

His response?

"Let us count the ways."




I wanted my oldest two to work with an online public school because I need time with the little kids. I needed the big boys to be accountable to another adult, understand the rigors of "regular" school and how the system works before they enter the middle college next year. This would free me up to allow me to concentrate on the younger 4 kids; three of whom are learning to read this year (4,5,6).

When we started researching online public high schools we researched. I looked online for reviews. Most of them glowed. But they didn't really answer a lot of my questions.

My sister had experience with K12. She explained that most of the work is done on the computer. We weren't incredibly happy with that because of the pitfalls of being on a computer too much (pornography, gaming and more). We solved this problem. We installed monitoring software. Essentially there is a program running in the background logging every single thing they do on the computer: texts, email, games, everything, The program also records so we can see what they are doing and view a log of what they are doing on the computer.

I went to the informational K12 meeting. They talked about accreditation, curriculum, how happy other families are. Yada yada. I asked about monitoring. How am I going to to know my kid is actually doing the work? (I remembered my sister complaining about how all the sudden she would find out that one of her kids was 2 weeks behind and it blindsided her.) How am I going to know if they are logging on? How am I going to know if they are struggling with the work? How am I going to know if they have overdue work? "Don't worry Mrs. Brownhead. You can monitor all of that as a learning coach." They told me about this login system where a learning coach sees what assignments are due each day and can see what live classes they have each week. "You can see all of that Mrs. Brownhead." I breathed a sigh of relief. I asked about organizational skills training. "Yes, there is a class you can log into." It sounded okay. I came with a list of questions and they answered them.

We started late due to the state requiring something or other with the school and government. We got our login information one week after classes had begun. The boys could login but I couldn't. I call the 800 number for K12. I am nowhere to be found on either of the boys' accounts, the address is wrong (like in a different state wrong) and I find out some complete stranger is named as the boys' learning coach.

The phone calls start. Who is this person? Why is she listed as my kids' learning coach? Why am I not listed as my kids' learning coach? How is she actually going to do attendance because she isn't actually going to know if my kids are here or not? How is she actually a coach? What type of contact can I expect from her? K12 didn't know who she was. JST didn't really know what she was going to do. And the Virtual Academy told me the state made the virtual academy designate a liason between the student and the teacher and that is who is listed as the learning coach but I won't be listed as a learning coach.

Oh, heck no.

Phone call. I would like to be listed as my childs' learning coach. "Well, Mrs. Brownhead, we do expect high school students to work independently." They will be working independently. I want to make sure they are actually doing the work. "We don't do that here, you are going to have to call..."

For each issue I had to make 3 phone calls, one to the school, one to JST and one to K12. What I didn't understand at the beginning of this is there are actually three levels to this schooling biz. The S. Virtual Academy is where the boys' are registered for school at the local level. They administered the placement testing and registered the boys for classes. SVA then handed all the paperwork over to JST who is the contracter/franchise owner for K12 for the state. JST handles some tech support but not all. Then the actual K12 organization is the third level. They have tech support and plenty of snotty customer service reps. If you get firm enough and insist to talk to a manager then you might actually get some of your questions answered.


The functionality of the program for monitoring students is completely different than what they showed us at the meeting AND on the online tours that they encourage all parents to watch. The learning coaches are to watch all of the online videos so they know how to do attendance and everything. One small problem. Absolutely none of the online video tours apply to high school level. But absolutely not one of them says that they do not apply to high school level nor do the videos say that they apply only to K-8. (I actually had a customer rep say, "Did you look at the copyright date on that video? It is an old video and you should check the copyright date." HUH? This is your online learning system.)

So, to make this long story shorter, if you are a parent, you must log in to each child's account, go into each of the courses, look at their assignments and gradebooks. The see it all on one page function does not apply to high school level. In the 12 hours I (and DH) was on the phone with K12 trying to figure this out we were told several things like, "Well, Mrs. Brownhead, you are supposed to be cutting the apron strings" and "High school students are supposed to be more independent in their work and you don't need to monitor their work" and "Well, Mrs. Brownhead, we expect that middle school students would be learning the organizational skills at this level and high school students are expected to fly" and "This isn't homeschool anymore Mrs. Brownhead, the teacher is really in charge."

Excuse me?

Excuse me?

Excuse me?

Excuse me?


K12 specifically targeted homeschooling parents in my state. And yet they don't seem to understand the mentality of a homeschooling parent. As any homeschool mom knows, there are moments, oh, even hours, oh, let's go with DAYS, when a student just does not want to do the work. I have a child that is happy to watch dust float in the sunshine. But I am not supposed to be monitoring their work. :dripping with sarcasm:

They are getting adjusted to high school. They still need support because they haven't had this experience yet. They are learning and to just drop them in to a situation without me knowing what is going on is ludicrous. How can I help them if I don't know the system? I am not going to be holding their hand for their entire high school career but you know what? You bet I am for the first semester. Cut the apron strings. Condescending customer service woman.

And you know what? If I don't monitor their work and the boys get behind, guess who they come after? ME. I signed a document saying I would keep track of them AND K12 doesn't really let you easily track what they are doing.

I had to say to the director that I cannot be the only parent that is monitoring their children's progress. I want my children to succeed and for the time-being they need monitoring to make sure they are learning to do the work. I cannot be the only one that has a child that if given the opportunity will slack off. I am not being over-controlling I am living up to my end of the agreement that I signed.

He backed off after that.

Our materials didn't arrive until almost 2 weeks into classes. Two weeks behind in Biology is never a good thing.

I don't have an opinion on the curriculum yet. I don't like how much is on the computer but we addressed that with the monitoring software. The boys seem happy with the labs. You know when you read reviews by other homeschooler we normally talk curriculum. We want to know about the books and the things our kids are learning. To be able to see what they are reading, I have to log in to their accounts and possibly mess up their assignments.

From an IT point of view DH found like 12 bugs and problems. But you can't submit a trouble ticket just by calling, you have to go through layers of customer reps to do that.

The customer service, as all customer service, has good people and bad people. Unfortuately, both good and bad don't seem to understand that our school is a virtual academy and has a different set up than a charter school. Therefore, most of the answers they have given me were wrong.

The teachers, so far okay. I don't have a lot of interaction with them. The boys are unaccustomed to having a teacher and aren't clear as to what they should address to the teacher. We have some teachers that because we started late adjusted the schedule. We have others that said, too bad, catch up. Even though the school is virtual, we have a teacher we can only contact during their ONE office hour a week and we have no other way to contact her. So, if you have a question you can get her between 9 and 10 on Monday morning. How ridiculous is that? One hour at the beginning of the school week? Others have multiple office hours with yahoo IM ids published and are very accessible.

The teacher information is not standardized so to find assignments for the boys it can be in three or four different places. The kids are supposed to have a tab that they can see if they have overdue work. #2 has all of his course in the overdue tab, the year they are due is 1900.

So, Michelle, you on the teacher side probably would not encounter some of these issues. It may be a good fit for your family.

The majority of my issues would have been solved if they would have just been honest up front about the monitoring. Because if I hadn't been on the phone for so many hours I wouldn't have had so many wonderful minutes with those ever, so lovely customer service reps. The majority of my issues are not with the materials but with the service we have or haven't received.

I am still reserving the right to change my mind but my experience thus far is negative-- 2 thumbs down.

16 comments:

Michelle said...

Wow! I am so sorry that the customer service reps have been so awful. That is a shame because I think K12 is offering a fairly unique service and they could and should be doing a better job on the customer service end. Really in this new era of education it is all about customer service and I think it sounds like K12 is a major fail in that department.

Tracie said...

This not Tracie, I am a friend of hers. She does not know I am posting this. She wanted to share this with me since I too use k12. I am on my iPod and there may be someistakes, I am having a hard time scrolling down in my comments to edit it.

I use k12 here in Colorado, it's called COVA. It is officially out of Arapahoe school district. I do not have a high schooler, but I do have 2 middle school students and one elementary student. I think your concerns are legitimate but since my kids will have lots of experience prior to highschool with COVA (and so will I) that I am not as concerned. I must say that Internet vigilince is extremely important. Teachers want to use outside sources for turning in assignments because the K12 system is so slow. Those outside sources are not protected, and can lead to contact with other online folks. I protest and make sure my kids do not do this. So far the teachers have complied. I guess many other parents felt the same way.

As far as technical problems, I think it's acceptable. There will always be something, and I always think if ways it could be better, or make things a mite easier on the user side. But then again my ideas might be so easy for others, so I just decide to be grateful for what I have.

I have enjoyed the ciriculum. The math had been really good and the flexibility let's me adjust for what my child needs. Overall I think the ciriculum is advancing my kids better than the public school district I belong to.

I do understand about slacking kids, my 2 middle schoolers need some reinforcement in that area, BUT. I have learned that the more that I "guide" them and let them be more in control, and enforce the consequences, the more they decide to be honest and do their part.

Also one of them is just not going to be an English major or even a mathematician of some sort, so I try to stay relaxed and keep in mind that she's doesn't have to figure it all out right now. I learned so much of why stuff was important when I actually needed to apply it. It will be the same for them. This is one reason I like homeschooling. I can take that pressure off my kid and just let them learn at their own pace.

I must add that there are progress goals, and we are often reminded of them. It a small flame that keeps the fire under them.

A friend of a friend.

Tracie said...

This not Tracie, I am a friend of hers. She does not know I am posting this. She wanted to share this with me since I too use k12. I am on my iPod and there may be someistakes, I am having a hard time scrolling down in my comments to edit it.

I use k12 here in Colorado, it's called COVA. It is officially out of Arapahoe school district. I do not have a high schooler, but I do have 2 middle school students and one elementary student. I think your concerns are legitimate but since my kids will have lots of experience prior to highschool with COVA (and so will I) that I am not as concerned. I must say that Internet vigilince is extremely important. Teachers want to use outside sources for turning in assignments because the K12 system is so slow. Those outside sources are not protected, and can lead to contact with other online folks. I protest and make sure my kids do not do this. So far the teachers have complied. I guess many other parents felt the same way.

As far as technical problems, I think it's acceptable. There will always be something, and I always think if ways it could be better, or make things a mite easier on the user side. But then again my ideas might be so easy for others, so I just decide to be grateful for what I have.

I have enjoyed the ciriculum. The math had been really good and the flexibility let's me adjust for what my child needs. Overall I think the ciriculum is advancing my kids better than the public school district I belong to.

I do understand about slacking kids, my 2 middle schoolers need some reinforcement in that area, BUT. I have learned that the more that I "guide" them and let them be more in control, and enforce the consequences, the more they decide to be honest and do their part.

Also one of them is just not going to be an English major or even a mathematician of some sort, so I try to stay relaxed and keep in mind that she's doesn't have to figure it all out right now. I learned so much of why stuff was important when I actually needed to apply it. It will be the same for them. This is one reason I like homeschooling. I can take that pressure off my kid and just let them learn at their own pace.

I must add that there are progress goals, and we are often reminded of them. It a small flame that keeps the fire under them.

A friend of a friend.

Christine Jennings said...

I so understand your concerns. My daughter started K12 in the state of Indiana in the middle of last year. Most assignments were done on Study Island last year. There was talk about this part of the program at the beginning of this year (2013). However Study Isaland never showed up. My daughter attended classes every day sometimes for 6 hours a day. However because parents were not told about the new place to turn in assignments, we did not know where to turn them in. I could not access the time area on the site and was told by customer reps not to worry the school keeps track of this electronically. Now they ar saying my daughter has missed 22 days of school and that unless she logs into the assignment section she is not tracked electronically. I nthink this is very unorganized and should be changed. The k12 program is now filling truancy charges on my daughter because she did not know where to turn her assignments in. I could understand the truancy hearing if she did not attend class. But she did. Once a teacher finally told us where and how to turn in her asssignments, she started working on them. She turned in 2 assignments the first day we learned how to submit them. This program is a joke. It should be shut down. I am hiring an attorney and contacting the news channels because the world should know what a lousy program this is. I am extremely disappointed by this program, teachers and administrators that are supposed to help you. They respond with stuff that just does not make sense. She is now being denied an education until the hearing, yet I keep getting emails telling me she has 9 weeks to bring up her grade. When did schools get the right to deny children an education. Even a real school (unlike k12) allows student to still go to school when they are truant. She was not truant but they are charging her anyways. FOR ALL PARENTS SIGNING UP HIGHSCHOOL CHILDREN (DON'T) BECAUSE THE SCHOOL IS DISORGANIZED AND CHARGES CHILDREN WITH TRUANCY EVEN IF THEY ATTEND ALL THIER CLASSES. THE NEW SYSTEM IS A FAILER.

Jessica Porong said...

Hey Mom,

I've been think about homeschooling my son full-time and I got to tell you that these are new waters for me but I have tried a system called Time4learning.com (no I'm definitely not trying to advertise for them) but my son used it over the summer because I didn't want him running around forget valuable knowledge over the summer months and believe it or not while he was using it part-time over the summer he learned more material over the summer than the children who had homework sent home from the public school! I got to tell you, that I could see everything my son was doing and when I say everything I mean EVERYTHING! I could see the time he started, how long it took him to do it and the grades he got; I could even print it out and if there's a grade that's "not so desirable" I can make him go back and redo it. The beauty is that if the child is new to the system they test them to see how the child learns and tailor the curricular as such. The time4learning system is amazing because you can be there by watching there progress and where they can be weaker so you can help them in thoughs areas and still give your children the opportunities to learn "on there own" level.The website has a trial period so you can see if you like it and then you do have to pay but it's nothing compared to the fact that, you really have a parent sign in system where you can see it all and help them where their not doing so well. Public school for my child is not ideal for me because I'm the type of parent who like to teach my child how I want, not to mention that I have a very hectic full schedule and don't like to be treating like crap if not able to make meetings or your children are not doing so well under the "public system.I think that system is so helpful and I think I'm going to withdrawal my son out of public school and do it full-time. I would totally check it out and see how you like the system during a school break period. I wish you and your son great luck and success in all of you education endeavors!!!

Bree South said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bree South said...

Awww... and i was actualy thinking of sking my grandma to sign me up :( back to the bullies i see

Sion said...

Thank you for this post. I'm going to check out the site you mentioned

Sion said...

Thank you for this post. I'm going to check out the site you mentioned

Jen Breaux said...

Come to Florida Virtual School!

Jen Breaux said...

Come to Florida Virtual School!

Jon.W.B. said...

hi im jon and i attended the k12 online schooling. however i noticed that it took alot of self determination,which as a highschool student and a gaming boy at that i didnt have much of.k12 was kind of the last resort thing done by my mother.We thought it would be quite easy to do.however i assure you the parent at almost every moment of k12 online schooling is left out of the picture while everything is dropped on the student.of course when the student doesent do it the parent gets in trouble (along with the occasional grounding from the playstation for the student haha) as for the customer support i only dealt with them once and i didnt see much problems but your experience may differ :) out of 5 stars i think ide give k12 a 2 its a nice theory but expects to much from students

mike gotswag said...

K12 Family Coach's is Child youth Service's Agents that you let in your home, i was in an meeting that the staff did not know i was there an i hear all of it the head of this underhanded program is Pam Keith. they come into your home an if You do not do there will, of letting them look around your house 1 or 2 times an mouth or more they call CPS or DHs on you to force there way into you home. they also have staff they said they fired for grade Manipulating black students grades from A s to F s in Sapphire. told use they fired them an they all still work at the school. The names of this race hating teachers that also worship satan is..... Jammie grant, Michael Reaves,Arin Tainter, Whitney Ford,Leslie Laudenslager,John Thomas,Brenna Saxton,Corey Mcnulty (Michael Frost>>> (school Principal) am sure there is more going on. remove your kids from this school an let them know you do not like the fact that they have undercover agents in you home posing as school staff and is nothing more than Child youth Service's that can use anything to have your child removed out your home. they into anything from Satan Worship to witch Craft to grade Manipulate of the kids

Beth Rose said...

So sorry to hear you've been having such negative experiences with K12. Our oldest son started with K12 as a junior and told me often it was how school should have been. But he was very unmotivated and passed with minimal grades. Our youngest went in eight grade because of bullying. He loves it and is excelling. I feel good for him, and he's moving faster in math, which relieves his boredom in math. It is not a home schooling in many senses but parents do have to check up on work and hold them accountable. That's not always fun, but some kids do okay on their own. If you have an unmotivated student, that might be tough. The teachers have been 99% great. Only one has been a pill. And set up time was difficult, so I could relate to the troubles this author had initially. But once you get over that, it's good. Don't let this thread throw you off.

Unknown said...

My child is very special needs kids. They said it's perfect for that. They told me teachers would teach them, all I had to do was make sure they do their work. Instead I'm teaching with no background in education. They said it was flexible, it is so right. They say, even though.i have appointments for my heart and can't go so i could help her. We came in late, but still expects us to do the work before we came and the current work, two units ahead. It's way too much for her especially since she's has mental issues and learning disabilities. Some parents say their child is in school until 8/9pm. Also work on the weekend. They're not in law school. They're too young to have school consume their whole lives. My daughter has started to have panic attacks because of this school. She feels like she's buried in it and can't get out. We go to CAVA, they turned it into a college of school and didn't even let us know. Especially disabled kids. No body there cares or understand. They just want assignments everyday. And that they do that. There's a daily quiz and teacher graded assignments everyday day. I really don't have any regrets in life, but this is one. We're going back to regular school.

Unknown said...

My child is very special needs kids. They said it's perfect for that. They told me teachers would teach them, all I had to do was make sure they do their work. Instead I'm teaching with no background in education. They said it was flexible, it is so right. They say, even though.i have appointments for my heart and can't go so i could help her. We came in late, but still expects us to do the work before we came and the current work, two units ahead. It's way too much for her especially since she's has mental issues and learning disabilities. Some parents say their child is in school until 8/9pm. Also work on the weekend. They're not in law school. They're too young to have school consume their whole lives. My daughter has started to have panic attacks because of this school. She feels like she's buried in it and can't get out. We go to CAVA, they turned it into a college of school and didn't even let us know. Especially disabled kids. No body there cares or understand. They just want assignments everyday. And that they do that. There's a daily quiz and teacher graded assignments everyday day. I really don't have any regrets in life, but this is one. We're going back to regular school.