20 Takeaways from NACSA and iNACOL Conferences

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 9.27.19 AM The Learning Collective recently attended two annual conferences: NACSA / National Association of Charter School Authorizers and iNACOL / International Association for K-12 Online Learning.  Keeping the list to just 10 proved too difficult so here are the top 20 takeaways from those conferences:

  1. The most important thing teachers have to be able to do in a blended class?  Plan.
  2. Summit Public Schools teaches kids how to be self-directed learners – it’s a skill kids must learn!
  3. To help manage the transition to blended learning in its schools, Summit Public Schools had whiteboards in school hallways for anyone (teacher, student, parent) to write down any problem or ideas they had.
  4. Summit Public Schools sees parent involvement as one of the most important factors in blended and personalized learning.
  5. 24 of 25 teachers that leave their public school in Chicago do so because of their principal.
  6. Alpha Public Schools used lessons learned from its data-driven P.E. program to inform data use in core academic programs.
  7. To pay for converting some of their schools to a blended environment, Aspire Public Schools increased class sizes and estimates a two-year runway to be cost effective.
  8. Committed leadership is the most important factor for an Aspire school to successfully convert to a blended school.
  9. The Washington DC charter school office has 35 staff for 38,000 students.  The state-wide Arizona charter office has 8 staff for 113,000 students.
  10. In their cutting edge model, it is not always clear who is the teacher of record for a particular student at Venture Academies.
  11. Teacher peer observation is a critical component of Venture Academies.
  12. Match Next and Venture Academies do not highly customize curriculum … MatchNext customizes its teaching.
  13. This academic year MatchNext has 50 students and its tutors cost $12K-$15K per tutor.
  14. A recent study shows in Ohio 75% of brick & mortar schools perform well but only 3 of 23 virtual schools are meeting standards.
  15. The Georgia Virtual School (4th largest in the U.S.) students outperform brick & mortar students on state tests.
  16. When a digital device goes down in one of the Navigator Schools someone from the CMO needs to respond to the IT need within 2 minutes.
  17. After 60-minute blocks, Navigator Schools assess student learning and then create groups based on that discrete learning in real time.
  18. Some Colorado charter school authorizers do not visit a school before deciding whether to renew its charter.
  19. A Boulder CO virtual school considers mentors at its drop-in center invaluable … in some respects more valuable than teachers.
  20. New Florida charter school applicants can pay $500 for the authorizer to do an initial “material” review of the application.