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MNPS Virtual School earns national accreditation for digital learning

MNPS Virtual SchoolTennessee’s first and highest performing virtual school is being called one of the best in the nation. MNPS Virtual School is now officially accredited through the AdvancED Accreditation Commission. "MNPS Virtual School is excited to bear the AdvancED seal of approval,” said Dr. James Witty, Virtual School principal. “This distinction further exemplifies our commitment to high academic standards, quality teaching and learning, as well as a focus on continuous improvement. Virtual School will continue to build upon our successes and capitalize upon what we've learned during this process."

Virtual is the first school in Tennessee to be accredited under AdvancED’s new quality standards for digital learning. The process for earning accreditation includes a thorough evaluation in three major categories: Teaching and Learning, Leadership Capacity and Resource Utilization. This is done through onsite visits and virtual course reviews, examination of instructional practices and student support systems, and a comprehensive analysis of achievement data. Evaluators also conduct in-person interviews with students, families and faculty members.

Ratings for Virtual School were above average in all 37 areas measured in the three categories. In fact, results were described as “statistically abnormal” by evaluators when compared to other AdvancED schools around the world, including traditional brick and mortar schools. Evaluators noted a “positive and productive digital learning environment focused on student success” and called MNPS Virtual School a model for quality virtual teaching and learning.

Opened in 2011, Virtual School now serves students in grades seven through 12. Next year, Virtual School plans to expand to the sixth grade. Students learn online using a learning management system called Blackboard. Enrollment allows students the opportunity to complete middle and high school courses from almost anywhere. As they work through the modules of the course, students connect with their teachers for refinement of learning and discussion-based assessments (DBAs) via phone, text, email, instant messenger, Google Hangout, Skype and more.

It is the first virtual school in the world to adopt the Academies model, offering the Academy of Business and Marketing. Starting this school year, Virtual School is offering full-time enrollment to seventh and eighth graders, as well as NCAA-eligible courses for student athletes.

Enrollment for summer and fall courses at Virtual School opens March 2, 2015. To learn more about how to enroll and who is eligible, visit their website.

AdvancED was created through a 2006 merger of the PreK-12 divisions of the North Central Association (NCA) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)—and expanded through the 2011 acquisition of the Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC). It is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that conducts rigorous, on-site external reviews of PreK-12 schools and school systems to ensure that all learners realize their full potential. The goal of AdvancED accreditation isn’t to certify that schools are good enough, but rather to help schools improve.