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State Honors Online K-12 Educators While Problems Persist

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Darren Leno / Creative Commons
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The Colorado Department of Education will recognize the state’s top online teachers at Colorado Virtual Academy, Monte Vista Online Academy and Colorado Connections Academy.

Next week the Colorado Board of Education will recognize elementary school teacher Deborah Sudbeck of Colorado Virtual Academy, Social Studies Teacher Ethan Huff and Language Arts Teacher Wayne Sheldrake of Monte Vista Online Academy and English Teacher Justin Siddall of Colorado Connections Academy.

Since online K-12 schools launched a decade ago in the state, Colorado now has more than 16,000 online students, and teaching is a key part of the online experience for students. In 2011, Colorado was home to the National Online Teacher of the Year, Krista Kipp at Jefferson County’s 21st Century Virtual Academy.

In contrast to teachers like Sudbeck who are flourishing at Colorado Virtual Academy, KUNC reported in March how some teachers at the state’s largest online school are getting short changed. Records show that middle and high school English teachers were responsible for overseeing as many as 240 students last school year. Meantime, 77 cents out of every taxpayer dollar was going straight to the school’s management company, for-profit K12 Inc.

Despite calls for more oversight from legislators like Democratic Sen. Brandon Shaffer last fall, there are just three more days left before the Colorado General Assembly ends. This makes it highly unlikely we’ll see any legislation this session.

The Colorado Department of Education started awarding online teacher of the year awards in 2008. The International Association for K-12 Online Learning has published standards for quality online teaching, which include 11 categories.