CVVA allows students more freedom in schooling

The Castro Valley Virtual Academy has taken off due to Covid-19. CVVA utilizes Engenuity to instruct online students and provides a new approach to learning.

CVVA was rather small at first, having only 60 to 65 students in total, 31 of which were fully online. Due to shelter in place, more than 300 students are now enrolled either full or part time in the virtual academy. “It’s great to see it go from sixty five to 300,” said CVVA teacher Kelly Abbott.

Teachers and students report that the main differences between CVVA and CVHS are the classes offered, scheduling, grading, and communication between students and teachers. CVVA has many of the same classes as CVHS but things differ with AP classes, electives, and languages. 

Teacher Jackie Stone states that her job for CVVA is just to be extra support for students. CVVA mainly uses pre-recorded videos to teach so students do not have teachers to ask questions in real time; teachers jobs are to be there for office hours so students can ask questions.

“Overall students will do better because students get multiple opportunities to redo assignments,” Stone said. 

Students have to schedule their own day since everything is self-paced. This is generally seen as a pro by students because it gives them the freedom to do however much work they want they want in a day. 

Elly Vongnarith likes the self paced aspect because she can work as fast or slowly as she wants and she has the opportunity to work ahead if she likes. Vongnarith also likes that she can work ahead because it allows her to have more time for herself so she can focus on her hobbies and extracurriculars more.

“Historically, organizing learning time in a non-traditional format and schedule can be challenging for some students. For many students, that is one of the most exciting parts of the program. We have historically had counselors and teachers work closely with students and families to figure out scheduling, learning priorities, and timing,” said Erica Ehmann, the CVVA principal. 

Since students are in control of their learning pace it can be difficult at times for students to schedule out their days but, there are counselors and teachers there to support the students’ needs.

Vongnarith also stated that the retake opportunities are nice because you can redo many assignments. Tests can be retaken once and quizzes twice. Students are also able to redo assignments far after the assignment was turned in, as opposed to CVHS where you generally can not redo assignments as easily. Vongnarith also stated that teachers are pretty quick to answer questions and emails.

On the other hand, some students have difficulties working with Engenuity. 

“The coursework is rigorous, they get a lot out of it, but it does take a certain level of discipline and motivation,” said CVHS Assistant Principal Brigitte Luna, who supervised CVVA earlier in the semester. 

Sophomore Amaya Jiao states that the work load was too much and stressed her out and the system overall did not work for her. Jiao also said that she didn’t like that it was such a hassle to contact teachers to ask questions and that her teachers were slow to answer emails. 

As for if students would have chosen CVVA over CVHS it really depends on the students and their learning style. Some students may like the virtual learning style because it gives them more freedom to do what they want and they have less distractions from other students. Others may prefer CVHS because of the structure and immediate help from teachers that it provides.

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