Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Local News

May 3, 2014

BAVEL is better for some students

Graduates receive a virtual education

GLASGOW — Alex Cruz has been home-schooled all of his life, so it is natural for him to attend a virtual high school.

Cruz, of Bowling Green, first enrolled in Beacon Academy in Warren County, but switched to the Barren Academy of Virtual and Expanded Learning, or BAVEL, three years ago because of the course offerings.

“I was able to take a lot of tech-related classes (through BAVEL),” he said.

On Thursday, Cruz sat in the first row of seats at the Plaza Theatre waiting for graduation practice to begin. He and fellow BAVEL students will graduate at 6 p.m. May 31.

After high school, Cruz wants to attend college and study technology.

“I hope to be a software engineer,” he said.

Seated near him was Taylor McIntyre of Fountain Run, who has been a BAVEL student for about two years.

“I just didn’t like the high school environment,” she said about why she switched to the virtual high school.

By attending BAVEL, she is able to work more hours than if she attended a typical high school and has saved enough money to buy a car. BAVEL also allows her to work at her own pace.

After high school, McIntyre plans to attend Southern Kentucky Community and Technical College and pursue a career as a veterinary technician.

 BAVEL has an enrollment of 426 students, both full-time and part-time. It was established in 2004 as a dropout prevention program, but the identity of the school has changed.

“We have students from all across the board just like any other high school,” said Melinda Owens, co-director of the school. “We’ve got students who are at risk of dropping out. We’ve got national merit finalists. We’ve got those students who are just your good average students who are wanting a good education.”

The school recently beat national averages on multiple key tests in 2013, specifically PLAN and EXPLORE, with the largest margins occurring in mathematics, science, reading, English and rhetorical skills, according to a press release from Florida Virtual School.

The PLAN test is a pre-ACT exam that was given to 10th-graders in the fall of 2013, testing in English, math, reading and science areas.

The national average composite score for the PLAN was 17.2, but BAVEL students had a composite score of 19.4, ranking them high among nonvirtual high school students in the state.  

“If you take that 19.4 score and go back and compare that to what the state has published on that, their 19.4 ties for sixth place in the state with other scores,” said Scott Harper, director of instruction for Barren County Schools.

BAVEL students also scored better than the national average on the EXPLORE exam, which was also given to eighth-graders in the fall of 2013. The national average EXPLORE score was 15.5, but BAVEL students had a composite score of 17.4, he said.

The students’ success on the tests can be attributed to a number of factors.

“I think a lot of it has to do with not only the motivation of our students … (but) the curriculum we offer our students,” said Phillip Napier, co-director of BAVEL. “It is rigorous. It requires them to put in a lot of thought (into their work).”

BAVEL students are often required to collaborate with fellow students on projects and assignments. The classwork BAVEL students do can’t always be finished in one or two hours.

“It’s not just multiple-choice questions,” Napier said. “They have to do a lot of real-world thinking.”

He also attributed the students’ success to reading material and analyzing, much as they do when taking the PLAN and EXPLORE tests.

“Our students are doing that every day,” Napier said. “I think that’s what attributes to those high scores there. Those are skills they are using every day.”

 

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