Hundreds of Plano ISD parents remove students from e-learning, alleging lack of rigor

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Hundreds of parents who have enrolled their children in the Plano ISD Virtual Academy have changed their minds, with some saying e-learning software Edgenuity was largely to blame.

Edgenuity, the subject of a Buzzfeed News survey published this week, has been the subject of criticism in Texas and across the country. The computer program relies heavily on pre-recorded videos, online readings, and ratings which are usually scored by computer algorithms.

Some districts adopted the program last year when the COVID-19 pandemic required virtual learning, and some, including Plano ISD, are using it this school year as an option for parents who were concerned about sending their children away. vaccinated in person.

“It was very tedious and very basic,” Plano’s parent Jamie Jackson said of the Edgenuity program this year. “My daughter is in first grade and they were teaching children to count to nine. I don’t think it even meets the [Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills] standards. We would also only have one hour of teaching per day.

Initially, 1,625 Kindergarten to Grade 6 Plano students enrolled in the program after the application period opened on September 1, according to data presented at a recent school board meeting. Two weeks later, many parents request the removal of their children.

The updated student count in the virtual program is 1,111, depending on the district. During the meeting, the district gave no specific reason why hundreds of parents removed their children from the program and did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the program and concerns expressed by some parents.

As part of the program, Kindergarten to Grade 5 students spend 60 to 90 minutes per day in a live session with their teachers in one of four core content areas, according to the Plano ISD website. The majority of lessons are completed independently. In sixth grade, students mostly do freelance work, and teachers provide office hours of up to two hours per week, according to the website.

Plano’s parents said The morning news from Dallas they found the Edgenuity software to be faulty and unfriendly to the students and themselves. Some questioned the quality and thoroughness of the program and expressed concern about the lack of time spent with teachers.

“This is not what one expects from a [Plano ISD] education, ”said Jackson, who decided to remove his children from the district and enroll them in other online programs.

In Facebook posts about the program, other Plano parents said that on a few occasions a teacher had never shown up for an online class and that students were staring at each other on their screens. ‘computer.

The issue of the safety of COVID-19, especially masks, has been divisive in Plano ISD and other districts, some of which have been sued by relatives. In September, the Plano school board rejected an attempt to extend the district’s temporary mask tenure.

The comments indicate that some of the parents have chosen e-learning because they are concerned about COVID-19 and the safety precautions put in place by the district. Others have children with health problems that would make fighting the virus particularly difficult.

Community members held an emergency Plano ISD school board meeting regarding the mask mandates in August.  The board of directors decided to temporarily impose the face covering and voted on Tuesday, September 21 not to extend the mandate.

Problems with Edgenuity

The BuzzFeed News investigation found that parents across the country said they were unhappy with the Edgenuity program. It included reviewing hundreds of pages of court and school documents across the country and interviews with more than 50 people, the outlet said.

Districts were desperate for options for online learning during the pandemic, which took a toll on the quality of student education, according to the analysis.

Fort Worth ISD stopped using Edgenuity for virtual learning this year after the district received comments that it “was probably not as rigorous, engaging or meaningful as our community wanted it to be,” said Jerry Moore , District Academic Director, at BuzzFeed.

Edgenuity has raised millions of dollars in districts across the country that use the program, according to BuzzFeed.

In a statement to BuzzFeed, Edgenuity defended his program, saying he was proud of the way he worked with school districts to ensure he had the program and support to teach students.

Virtual learning in Plano ISD

Plano ISD had informed families this school year that they could enroll students in a one-year virtual academy if they followed certain provisions and if the legislation to fund the program, Senate Bill 15, was finalized.

The district chose Edgenuity to work “in combination with the PISD program to engage students with a fun and meaningful course and program,” its website says.

Since the September 14 deadline to remove students from virtual learning, additional requests have been denied as staff and students have been reorganized to accommodate the virtual program, said Courtney Gober, assistant superintendent of student services, to family and community. in a recent presentation to the Trustees.

Students whose withdrawal requests have been refused will be required to complete the school year in the district’s virtual academy. It was initially made clear that the program would be a one-year engagement, Gober said.

The state plans to fund the virtual academy until September 1, 2023, he said.

Although teachers cannot be required to teach online under state law, Gober said the district has many volunteers for the position.

Plano’s parent David Dong said his son, a second grader, was performing above grade level and was able to keep up with the pace of the Edgenuity program, but questioned which students can’t. not.

He said he was glad the district offered parents an online learning option, but improvements are needed instead of the district taking what he called a “take it or leave it” position.

Other districts, such as Frisco and Dallas, have been successful in implementing quality online programs this year, and Plano ISD should have done the same, Dong said.

Jackson enrolled his sophomore daughter at Lone Star Online Academy in Roscoe, Texas, and his son, a sophomore high school student, at iUniversity Prep, a tuition-free online college prep school based at Grapevine-Colleyville ISD.

The Lone Star program sent him several boxes of materials, including books and art supplies, Jackson said.

“And I like that for each class we have about 2.5 hours a day with a teacher,” she added. “The rest of the time, we work on lesson plans that walk you through everything. “


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