- The Merrill Area Public School District found out how their district compares to others in the state.
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction evaluates districts and schools and gives them report cards every year.
But the district's online school did much worse than the rest of the district in math.
Students at Bridges Virtual Academy learn almost entirely online.
About 29% of Bridges students are proficient in math. But the state average is about 49%, and the district is almost 52%. That could be because many of the students at Bridges used to be homeschooled.
"Sometimes the parents may have some challenges with really effectively instructing their child in a particular math subject," says Bridges Virtual Academy Administrator John Hagemeister.
Educators at Bridges think it's easier for parents to teach their kids English.
Bridges' reading scores were slightly higher than the state average.
Teachers at Bridges are working on improving their math scores.
First, they find out how much students know, then they make specific plans for each student.
They hope that helps them catch up.
"Really gain more than a whole grade level's worth of growth in a year. So that's a challenge you know when you have kids all over the state," says Hagemeister.
Students that live near Merrill can get help from a teacher in person one day a week.
But if they're too far they can also use online resources for extra practice in math.
"They're going to be able to do problems of all sorts of skill levels so they're going to be able to do maybe some lower levels or some upper levels to really be able to get that extra video instruction that they need," says Bridges Virtual Academy teacher Trina Lutzke.
Only about 25% of students at Bridges are physically from Northern Wisconsin.
Anyone in the state can enroll.
Right now the school is part of Merrill's School District.
70% of the money from Bridges goes directly to the school, while 30% percent goes to the district.
"There is an interest to have charter schools become independent charter schools or what's called non-instrumentality schools. In that case what happens is that all funding for that student that goes into that school, goes to the school and not to the district," says Merrill Area Public Schools Superintendent Wally Leipart.
That means the district could lose a lot of money.
The district estimates they'll get $1.3 million from Bridges this year.
"This is a practice that both the legislature and DPI had encouraged school districts to do if you were seeking other revenue and you didn't want to go to referendum, consider starting a charter school," says Leipart.