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Iowa Virtual Academy Offers Public School Education at Home

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa-- Parent's who want to send their kids to a school outside of the district they live in can now open enroll.

Iowa's open enrollment period goes until March 1. There is a relatively new option in education for parents who want a non-traditional learning experience for their child.

Iowa Virtual Academy is a tuition free, online public school that was just started a couple of years ago. They have 200 students in grades K-12 enrolled this school year from around the state.

Jack Fancher of Cedar Rapids is one of their students. His parents signed him up because he was going to be a third grade student but performed at a fifth grade level in math and language arts. They wanted a program that could be tailored to meet his needs.

With the curriculum provided by Iowa Virtual Academy and some help from his dad, Jack works from home doing 3rd grade level history, science, music and art and 5th grade level math and language.

"At my other school I had to wait for everyone to finish and I was really bored," Jack said. "Now I can be done and start a new thing."

"The flexibility is a big advantage and his ability to push himself," said Jake Fancher, Jack's father. "There's times when he says dad I just want to do this other math and it looks interesting let's do another one."

Jack and other students do have to get at least 80 percent on a lesson before they can move on to ensure students understand the subject. Students also have to test into grade levels in each subject and are required to take standardized tests like the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.

The Iowa Virtual Academy employs certified teachers who are paired with each student to help guide them through the coursework and answer any questions they might have. All text books and supplies for art or science projects are provided by the Academy, so parents only have to purchase the basics like pens and pencils.

To enroll in the Iowa Virtual Academy, parents must open enroll their child in the Clayton Ridge Community School District. That requires filling out two forms, one for Clayton Ridge and one for the student's home district. Forms are available on the Iowa Virtual Academy website and must be submitted by March 1

An information session on the Iowa Virtual Academy is being held Wednesday Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. at the Ladd Library in Southwest Cedar Rapids.

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