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Huffman weighed shutting down embattled Tennessee Virtual Academy

Joey Garrison, The Tennessean • Jul 26, 2014 at 4:44 PM

In a standoff over a struggling statewide cyber school, Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman says he weighed pulling the plug altogether.

Instead, at his urging, the next incoming class of new students at Tennessee Virtual Academy won’t be admitted — an action that has nevertheless put an education chief known for favoring school choice under unfamiliar fire from national reform groups.

The move to “un-enroll” 626 incoming students marks the boldest action yet in what has been a turbulent three years for the online virtual school operated by the for-profit K12 Inc., which has produced woeful test scores every year in Tennessee since a change in law paved the way for its 2011 arrival.

Because of the school’s third straight year of “Level 1” results in student growth, the commissioner had the authority to direct the closure of the school. He chose a less harsh option, recommending that the Union County School Board, which contracts K12 to operate in Tennessee, stop admitting students for the time being.

The board obliged on Thursday, voting to request a waiver from the state to cancel enrollment of students it recently accepted. Tennessee Virtual Academy’s some 3,000 existing students, who live across the state and take coursework from home, will remain part of the school.

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