Posted on | November 7, 2011 | Comments Off
The California Virtual Academy has grown to become a mid-sized school district, enrolling more than 10,700 students who study at home. But CAVA officials are quick to disclaim that the organization is in the home schooling business. As traditionally understood, home schooling is a vehicle for parents to gain virtually complete control over what and how their children learn. CAVA, in contrast, is a highly developed curriculum linked to its own pedagogy, testing, and monitoring systems. Students learn at home, usually with mom as a teacher, but the learning system is highly engineered.
Indeed, CAVA is the largest existing test bed for the learning systems devised by the for-profit firm K-12, which actively markets its products to school districts and individuals. Rather than being understood as a vehicle for home schooling, CAVA is better thought of as a new production system for learning, highly designed yet flexible. It provides a substantial amount of agency for students and parents to tailor their learning, but it requires much more active engagement from them than attending a brick and mortar school.
In a case study just published on this site, Laura Mulfinger and I describe the development of virtual education and visit with CAVA teachers and families.