Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Florida Districts React to K12 Investigation

The Miami Herald did a story on the unfolding controversy with K12, the online charter school company. The company is accused of using uncertified teachers to teach students. One school district requires teachers at the company to sign their rosters, and one teachers' refusal to do so help to spark this investigation. 

Seminole County teacher Amy Capelle had to make a decision.
Her supervisor at the nation’s largest online school, K12, asked her to sign a roster saying she’d taught 112 kids.
She’d only taught seven.
“If you see your name next to a student that might not be yours, it’s because you are qualified to teach that subject, and we needed to put your name there,” wrote K12 supervisor Samantha Gilormini in an e-mail.
Capelle refused, and now state officials are investigating whether K12 used improperly certified teachers and asked employees to cover it up.
Seminole County officials say this problem may reach far beyond their borders.
But many Florida school districts have no way to know whether K12 students are actually being taught by properly certified teachers, according to a review by StateImpact Florida and Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.
Seminole County school officials took a series of unusual steps to check if K12 was being honest about who was teaching its students.
They asked K12 teachers to sign rosters of their students. And they followed up with a survey of K12 parents. Just one in three parents said the teacher listed actually taught their child.
Most Florida districts don’t take those precautions -- and several contacted by StateImpact Florida/FCIR said they had no plans to do so.
Both Hillsborough and Pinellas county school districts said all online teachers undergo standard human resources checks. Those steps include fingerprinting, a background investigation and providing proof of all teaching certifications.
Neither district has ever done a follow-up survey, such as the one Seminole County schools conducted to identify problems with K12.
Meanwhile, school officials in Brevard and Volusia counties say they are asking parents to verify their child’s K12 teacher.
K12 officials say they always use state-certified teachers, but an internal review found “minor mistakes” in matching a teacher’s grade and course certifications to students.
K12 founder and CEO Ron Packard called the conclusions of the Seminole County schools investigation an “unbelievable amount of rumor-mongering and absurd extrapolations” in a conference call Thursday.
“All teachers teaching Seminole County students were Florida-certified,” he said “In our internal review we have only identified minor mistakes in matching the appropriate grade and course certifications with specific students in courses.
"Why would we have ever hired teachers that weren’t certified? We have tens of applicants for every job."

Quite frankly, I do not think this will matter much with the reform movement. In fact, I think many of them will endorse the idea of not having to use certified teachers. Many of them have already said or implied that graduate degrees do not matter. Many feel that certifications are an unnecessary loophole. That's interesting inasmuch as these teachers evaluations will be based on student standardized test scores yet these reformers do not think having a teacher demonstrate her skill through a standardized test is necessary. 

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/09/16/v-fullstory/3005120/few-school-districts-check-for.html#storylink=cpy

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