Domestic, High school / Secondary 2, Legislation, Required - Written by on Wednesday, September 21, 2011 16:59 - 0 Comments

Minnesota Study Finds Its 20,000 Online High School Students Are Under-Performing

Legislators in Minnesota have been carefully tracking the online high school experiment in their state. And they are discovering that online students are not faring as well as traditional students. Here are some quotes and numbers from a report by Sarah Lemagie in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune this week:

Even as they surge in popularity, online schools in Minnesota are troubled by high  dropout rates, poor math scores and  inadequate state oversight.

That’s the conclusion of a state audit released on Monday that shows how the virtual schools, whose full-time enrollment has tripled in recent years, are faring.

  •  20,000 students in Minnesota took at least one online course in 2010-11.
  •  Of those, 12,000 took courses from state-approved online schools and 8,000 from traditional schools.
  •  In 2009-10, about 8,300Minnesota pupils studied full time at online-only schools.
  • 25 percent of 12th-gradersstudying full time in online schools dropped out in 2009-’10; 3 percent dropped out of traditional schools.
  • Full-time online students finished 63 percent of the courses they started in 2009-’10.
  • 16 percent of high school students studying online full time were proficient on Minnesota math tests in 2010; 41 percent of all Minnesota high school students were proficient.
Lemagie quotes online learning proponents, who point out that many students studying online are already behind when they enroll. But we think that’s a weak argument. The online schools should be solving problems and not making them worse.
State leaders want to make sure education evolves with technology, said Rep. Mike Beard, R-Shakopee, who chairs the legislative audit commission. “What we’re really concerned about is, how do we foster innovation, but do it in a way that maintains quality?” he said.

Some legislators are also watching closely the high-profile battle between the state and  a pioneering online school, BlueSky. The school is fighting state officials, who have reported violations of state graduation requirements at the school and moved to shut it down.

Minnesota has 24 public K-12 online schools approved by the Education Department. Some are charter schools, while others are run by one or more traditional school districts. Online schools have drawn students with a variety of special needs, including teen moms, elite athletes and victims of bullying.


The department should also assign more staff to work on issues related to online learning, the report said, suggesting that reducing oversight of programs that only take part-time students could help with the state’s staffing problems.


Meanwhile over at the alternative weekly in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, City Pages, the headline was more bleak: “Online Education Not Working in Minnesota.”

There are all kinds of things you can learn on the internet, like what your former lovers are up to, the prices of various super-cute shoes, and whether the honey badger, officially, do or don’t care. 

What you can’t learn online are things like math and literature, according to a new report from the Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor. The commissioned report found that online schooling for K-12 kids is not as effective as in-person classes, with online students not completing courses, dropping out, and falling behind in standardized tests. 

by y entonces via Flickr under Creative Commons

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