A for-profit virtual school has drawn the ire of state lawmakers for poor test results, and now Metro Schools are trying to offer itself up as another option.
Virtual schools are a relatively new, but a growing option, for education across Tennessee.
Metro Schools started a public virtual school in 2010. It has grown to 91 full-time students and 650 part-time students.
"We're trying to give students an option," said Metro Schools' Jay Steele. "Some students are successful in a classroom with traditional instruction. Some students like to learn 24/7 on their own."
The other virtual school option in Tennessee is running into some criticism.
The for-profit K12 Incorporated offers a virtual academy through Union County Schools and state lawmakers are crying foul for what he calls a dismal performance.
According to a letter sent to state leaders, only 16.4 percent of its students scored proficient of the math part of the TCAP tests.
Because of some of these results, some state lawmakers want more accountability for K-12. However, the MNPS Virtual Academy said it has the accountability already built in.
Metro Schools hold its virtual students to the same standards as its students who sit in a classroom. That means truancy is tracked, the district offers tutoring and interventions and exams are given in person.
"We're tweaking and we're improving every day and every month," said Scott Merrick, with MNPS Virtual School.
Merrick said there's a big difference between a public virtual school and a privately run virtual school - money.
"I really think the most important thing is what's best for the students," said Merrick. "We're not constrained like a commercial company to earn profits. I think that's a big distinction."
The K12 Virtual School did not respond to our emails Monday. However, it did tell The Chattanooga Times Free Press that those scores shouldn't be used as indicators for their students' performance.
Copyright 2012 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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