TEC Connections Academy (TECCA) is the state's largest full-time, tuition-free public school for K-12 students. TECCA accepts students from every community in Massachusetts.
Last month TECCA entered the Cape school competition market with a recruiting event in Hyannis for prospective students and their families. With Cape students already enjoying a rich selection of school choice and charter choice options, TECCA now brings another competitive product to the education marketplace.
This week we caught up with TECCA's Superintendent Adam Goldberg, who agreed to sit for one of our virtual interviews. Consider this a preliminary, "first contact" interview as we learn about TECCA's product and how it's delivered to families across the state. We'll be back in the future to ask more detailed questions of Supt. Goldberg after school starts next fall.
As with all Cape Cod Today virtual interviews, the questions and answers are posed in the exact order they were submitted. Mr. Goldberg's responses are delivered exactly as he provided them - with no editing whatsoever.
Q. Do you have a breakdown of enrolled students by originating school district?
A. There are more than 30 students from the Cape who are enrolled in TECCA.
Q. How does the school address socialization with the younger children? We see that they have small numbers of children enrolled in the early elementary grades. What is the “virtual kindergarten” experience?
A. The elementary and middle school grades are a rapidly growing population at TECCA - and we are committed to creating a strong community experience for all ages. All students and families have access to school counselors and a lead administrator who help students gain social confidence, learn teamwork, and develop leadership and communication skills. Roles and activities are carefully structured to ensure that students develop a love of learning and gain the reading, writing, and mathematics skills essential to their future success in cyber school. Additionally, our elementary school teachers build strong partnerships with the families of our online students, and work every day to make sure students and families are a part of a broader online school community. In fact, our elementary and middle school students are the most likely to attend field trips, which bring lessons and friendships to life. This year, TECCA coordinated four times as many field trips as last year.
Q. From what we could see with MCAS scores, it looks like the school showed some improvement from the first year to the second year. Was that the product mainly of student gains between years or possibly the additional enrollment of higher-achieving students in the school’s second year.
A. While we remain proud of our students’ achievements, TECCA has also seen tremendous growth in how our educators are implementing their craft within the virtual setting. Because they know their students well, TECCA online teachers can personalize lessons and coursework to ensure that each virtual school student receives the right degree of challenge or support. Often, teachers get to know the entire family. There is a body of research that supports a correlation between continued enrollment in the virtual school and students' academic achievement. We know that consecutive years in the virtual setting coupled with our educators’ strong partnerships with students and families help prepare each student for success.
Q. Who is your “target customer”? What are that student’s learning characteristics? How is TEC better equipped to address that child’s needs?
A. We have built a virtual public school district, one that is open to every student in the Commonwealth and that has the capacity to change the way students and families access and succeed in their education. All students perform better when they receive individual attention. At TECCA, education is personalized to each student’s individual abilities. This personal touch is what sets this program apart from the rest. With support and personal attention from teachers, and someone at home to facilitate learning and keep students on track, TECCA students are empowered to succeed. Many online students attending TECCA are busy with activities in their local communities, and the flexibility of the program allows students to take advantage of more extracurricular activities.
Q. What kind of technology do students need to participate in the school? Does the school provide any of the tech or is the family required to procure it? If the family must provide, do you have financial assistance available for economically disadvantaged households?
A. With proprietary interactive web tools, online lesson plans and instruction, our own internal email, secure community message boards, and more, TECCA creates a virtual classroom experience where teachers and students work together in a supportive environment and guides students through a rigorous curriculum that meets individual students’ learning needs. TECCA is excited to announce that as part of a pilot program being introduced in the 2017–18 school year, TECCA households with students enrolled in grades 4–6 and 8 will receive one Chromebook laptop per student. All other TECCA families are responsible for providing their own computer. Some families are eligible to request a computer.
Q. What is your recommended Internet service speed?
For the best experience, broadband connection is required. Connectivity requirements, including minimum recommended Internet speeds, are listed on our website.
School competition is already thriving here on Cape Cod. TECCA offers a different type of learning environment for the right child. A virtual school experience will appeal to many learners and their parents. TECCA is already drawing over 30 students from the Cape - and that's before the school started active recruitment on this side of the bridg.e
Is virtual schooling for everyone? Obviously not. However the online life of both parents and their children makes virtual schooling a far more viable choice than just two or three years ago. We look forward to seeing how much fruit is borne by TECCA's Cape recruitment program - and the successes enjoyed by local students who enroll with TECCA.