The Colorado Virtual Academy, a tuition-free public charter school open to all K-12 grade level residents of the state of Colorado, is one of the most interesting and technologically advanced public education programs in the country. In this day and age where traditional schools are getting to the point where nearly all the educating is done via computer, it was only a matter of time before a complete online K-12 school system was available online as well.
If you’re a resident of Colorado, the Colorado Virtual Academy is completely free for your children to attend. This includes the cost of books and materials as well; they will literally ship the books to your doorstep free of charge. The only requirements for you are that you must own a functioning computer that meets certain minimum requirements and you must have a stable internet connection capable of loading the coursework.
In some senses, the Colorado Virtual Academy is a variation of homeschooling your children, as it is expected, especially with younger children, for you to be intimately involved in the learning process and even for you to sit with your child during lessons.
What to Expect from the Colorado Virtual Academy
You can expect a rigorous coursework using their much touted K¹² education plan, but you can also expect courses that are paced to the individual learning style, abilities, and interests. It’s rare to find a program that is a perfect fit for both gifted students and students who need a bit of extra help, but this Colorado online school program fits that bill.
Because the programs are so flexible, and the program so adaptable — thanks to the freedom of the actual format of the online program — it really can fit just about any child. The curriculum is “mastery-based”, which means that children advance through the work not on a set timeline such as an arbitrary school year, but on when they actually master the information. Students will study the six core subjects (language arts, science, math, music, history, and art) not only online, but with written course material, textbooks, and workbooks as well. In fact, they estimate that only 25 percent of the student’s time will be spent on the computer in the earlier years of schooling.
You will find honors and AP courses at the high school level, as well as three different foreign language classes, so if there was any thought that this was just a basic program, hopefully, that will be dispelled. The freedom to explore new subject areas and focus on specific areas of interest should attract any student, especially more academically talented ones who are often bored in a regular school. See also this article about the Ohio Virtual Academy.
Every teacher involved in the program is licensed by the state of Colorado, and they meet or exceed all standards you would expect in a public school teacher. It’s easy to imagine these teachers as open-minded, free-thinking educators who were willing to take a leap of faith on a new program that nobody had ever tried before. That’s a very positive attribute and it speaks well of their commitment and willingness to go the extra mile for your student.
This program certainly is not for everyone; those looking for a traditional school experience with football games on Friday nights, lockers and homerooms will be sorely disappointed with the Colorado Virtual Academy. However, for those looking for something different and cutting edge, this just might be the solution you’re looking for. There is a wealth of information available at their attractive and user-friendly website, and we urge you to explore and follow up with the administration with any questions you may have.