I have seen a lot of posts on the homeschooling boards about Prenda, Venture Upward and AZ Learning Communities. And, as our times are changing with the everything happening this year, people are desperately looking for help in the education realm.
I know that not everyone can homeschool, and while I am an advocate for traditional homeschooling, I know that it is not possible or practical for everyone to homeschool. I am a full advocate for school choice as well. Education is very important for students, and one system doesn’t work for all students.
You can check out my video on School Options that I did earlier in 2020 .
Each of these options are all run under Sequoia Choice Charter School. I suggest looking them up. Their ratings. Their history. Please dig in and do research on the school.
Public Funded Charter Schools
Venture Upward, Prenda and AZ Learning Communities all fall under Publicly Funded Charter Schools. You will not be traditionally homeschooling your children. That means you will have rules to follow, guidelines, and your children will need to undergo state testing at the appropriate ages.
Prenda has two options- Prenda Family-where you can use their system in your home or Prenda Microschool, where you go to other people’s home (or host in your own) and the guide is paid to help students learn. There are ten or less students in a Prenda Microschool. Prenda Family is Free if you register-and you are therefore under the charter school.
Prenda Microschools are run by guides who do not need to have a degree. They are background checked. They choose who they want in their microschool. Children with IEP and learning disability accommodations are handled through Sequoia Choice and the guides. If your child has a disability, they get help via teachers from Sequoia Choice in Mesa.
What materials are provided and what items are needed from home? What will days look like? How are behavioral issues handled? What if someone gets sick? Who is in the home at a Microschool? Prenda guides are required to have insurance, but you might want to ask what it covers if that protects the parents as well.
Venture Upward is new to Arizona. Their enticement to families is “you get $1000” for 1st graders-12th graders for your child’s education. However, the annual spending per child in the state of Arizona is between $5,000-$7,013. I asked an employee where the rest of the money goes, and the answer was “Insurance, Tinkercrates, Reading Eggs, Field Trips and they pay for mentors”. Students need to take AZ Merit testing. In addition, you will get check up calls from a “mentor” to see how you are doing.
AZ Learning Communities
AZ Learning Communities is similar to Venture Upward. Parents need to participate to get a stipend in order to earn money for their child’s education. It is a cooperative in order to earn money to create a community. There is an upward limit of what you can earn (not known). Child needs to take three benchmark tests throughout the year to show they are learning and the AZ Merit tests if they are of age.
Your Tax Dollars
I bring this up because it is your tax dollars. And, you should know where and how your money is being used. I have had a lot of questions and keep pressing for answers.
Students DO have to take state tests
On the Prenda websites, it says that if you are paying privately, you do not have to participate in testing, but if you are a Prenda Family or Microschool “We also ask that you participate in the end of year state testing. We ask that students do their best, but don’t put any pressure on anyone to perform. ” Because they are under a charter school, they are required to take the state testing.
Venture Upward and AZ Learning Communities, because they fall under the charter school, also have to participate in state testing.
What is state testing going to look like this year? I don’t know. Will you have to schedule a visit at a location? Can you take it at a microschool? I’m not sure. Will it be at a third party location? Who knows!
Who is in charge?
While Sequoia is the Charter School that all of these programs fall underneath, it is unknown how the testing will be reported for AZ Merit results.
But, if the schools have students who aren’t performing? What will happen?
Time will tell, I guess.