Sixth graders need structure so they can learn. High schoolers won’t graduate if they spend all day working and do school at midnight.
In the past, I’ve expressed serious concerns about the child rights implications of virtual instruction, but the so-called “AVA Flex” program offered to middle and high school students by Atlanta Public Schools (APS) is on a whole other level.
The Atlanta Virtual Academy’s vision statement claims that the “Academy” will “provide a welcoming and facilitative learning environment where any and all students have an opportunity to learn and prepare for the workforce and/or post secondary education.”
But let’s take a look at what AVA Flex — one of the programs offered — entails. I’ve put a red box around the offering.
The AVA Flex program is “asynchronous with teacher facilitation.” In other words, this means children won’t be logging in and experiencing live instruction from a teacher — they won’t be taught, for example, how to interpret a text with the option to ask questions of the teacher during a lesson. According to APS, the program “works well for the independent learner” and “live/virtual one-on-one support is available via Zoom.”
Should sixth graders — who are 11 or 12 years old — be engaged in independent learning like a university student? They are still trying to master the basics! Moreover, how many struggling students will have the initiative to reach out for “one-on-one support…available via Zoom”? In classrooms, teachers can see struggling students with their eyes and offer an immediate intervention.
The program description goes on to say that “course content is available 24/7 for students to work.” Sorry, but should a 12- or 13-year-old be “doing school” at midnight? Or a high schooler after a day spent working at some business?
The AVA Flex program literally sets students up to spend all day working and then half-heartedly logon at night for “school.” The program design invites…