Massachusetts Approves its Second Virtual School
Massachusetts students and families interested in a fully online education have ridden a roller coaster in the last couple of years as its first virtual school (the Massachusetts Virtual Academy at Greenfield, or MAVA) was approved to open in 2010, then decided to close, then decided to stay open, all while operating under a wide variety of restrictions. MAVA expanded in school year 2013-14 to include grades 9-12, and is authorized to serve 750 students. However, no other virtual schools have been approved to operate in the state even though the framework was in place for them to do so. That changed this week with the approval of the TEC Connections Academy, which was approved by the state education board to serve children statewide beginning in school year 2014-15. The school will serve grades K-12, and may serve up to 1,000 students in its first year, 1,500 the second, and 2,000 in its third. Like MAVA, the school was approved for an initial Commonwealth virtual school certificate of three years; it will be paid $6,700 per student by the state.
This school is sponsored by The Educational Collaborative (TEC), formed in 1980 by over a dozen school districts in the Boston suburbs. In 2009, seeking to expand college prep, AP, and honors class options for their students, it launched TEC Online Academy. This school has been serving students in the 16 TEC districts and other Commonwealth districts with a catalog of 40+ courses funded via a student fee typically paid by the sending district.