School News

Virtual School Certificate Renewed by Unanimous Vote

Board of Education Approves 3-Year Certificate for Massachusetts Virtual Academy

Malden—In a meeting on February 23, 2016, the Massachusetts Board of Education voted unanimously to renew the Massachusetts Virtual Academy's certification for three years. Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester had recommended the renewal in a memorandum to the Board of Education on February 12.

"We're very pleased that the Commissioner and the Board of Education has recognized the need to continue the virtual school experiment in Massachusetts," said Carl Tillona, executive director of MAVA. "This vote is more than just a renewal. It's an understanding of the need for virtual education that serves the kind of students who are enrolled at MAVA."

"When I began my tenure began at MAVA, it quickly became obvious that our school was serving a different population of students," continued Tillona. "If you picture a bell curve as an average public school, there are a few academically strong students on one end, some struggling learners on the other, and a critical mass of average students in the middle. For MAVA, imagine that Bell curve almost flipped. We still have a few academically strong students, but we have a large population of students who have a history of being struggling learners – students who are diagnosed with a learning disability who are either on a 504 or an IEP. On top of this, we do not have that critical mass of average students in the middle."

MAVA is the first diploma-granting virtual commonwealth school in Massachusetts and is available for students statewide in grades K–12. MAVA delivers a transformative education with unique strengths and flexibility perfectly suited for the modern world. Its approach encourages critical thinking and an independent learning style that meets the key needs of diverse learners by providing educational resources that cultivate curiosity, exploration and inquiry.

Massachusetts Virtual Academy's Strategic Plan

View the Strategic Plan for MAVA [PDF]

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Massachusetts Virtual Academy at Greenfield Continues Successful Run
State education officials approve MAVA's annual academic goals.

Massachusetts Virtual Academy’s successful spring continues with word that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has approved the school's annual academic goals.

“This reaffirms for us that we are on the right path,” said Carl Tillona, the school’s executive director. “We have been working very closely with state education officials, collaborating closely over the past six months, to strengthen our programs as we move forward. It’s an exciting time for us.”

Word of DESE's approval comes on the heels of MAVA's graduation ceremony, held earlier this month, which saw the school's largest graduating class to date. The 13 graduates are headed to schools such as Northeastern University, Greenfield Community College, the University of Vermont, and UMass Amherst, among others. Next year's class is expected to number more than 25 students.

The annual academic goals are benchmarks for student improvement that show progress over time. MAVA exists to provide an alternative educational model for students who have struggled in traditional environments. The school draws students from all over the state, with some concentrated pockets from certain towns, cities and/or regions. Each year, the school is required to demonstrate value by helping students perform to a level that is at least on par with their peers.

“Meeting and partially meeting these goals is a challenge when considering the unique populations of the students we serve,” Mr. Tillona said. “And yet, we are able to demonstrate, through student performance data, that our students are doing as well or better than their peers. We serve students from all across the state, not just from one school district or one region. If one were to look at a sampling of students similar to the population we serve, one would find we do very well in such a comparison.”

For example, "Indicator #6" states that 90% of the seniors at MAVA will have passed all required MCAS/PARCC exams for graduation or will have satisfied all of the state’s alternate paths to graduation. MAVA met this goal in the 2014-15 year, school officials said.

Similarly, “Indicator #2” states that the ELA and Math CPI of students in their second year or beyond at MAVA will be higher than 50% of the schools in districts from which MAVA draws 10 or more students. MAVA currently draws 10 students from the Boston Public Schools and 10 students from the Springfield Public Schools. MAVA partially met this goal last year.

The Massachusetts Virtual Academy at Greenfield is the Commonwealth’s first virtual K-12 public school, delivering a transformative education with unique strengths and flexibility perfectly suited for the modern world. The school serves more than 650 students statewide each year.

MAVA is known for an educational approach that encourages critical thinking and an independent learning style that meets the key needs of diverse learners by providing educational resources that cultivate curiosity, exploration and inquiry.

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MAVA Getting its Color Vibe On!
Faculty and staff competing in Color Vibe 5K on June 27

Members of the MAVA faculty and staff are getting their "color vibe" on as part of a 5K run.

MAVA's seven member team - decked out in Team MAVA t-shirts - will be getting blasted with reds, yellows, purples, and greens while running along the race route on the Franklin County Fairgrounds on Saturday, June 27th. Come out and root on our runners or join in the race!

Here's more info about the race