Charter schools, Domestic, Education Quality, Elementary / Primary / Junior, For-Profit, High school / Secondary 2, Institutions, Landscape, Markets, Not-for-Profit, Public education, Required - Written by on Tuesday, January 10, 2012 13:28 - 0 Comments

Heard: Colorado Study Shows Online Charter Students Trailing Behind Counterparts

via Flickr by Kaptain Kobold under CreativeCommons

More online students are falling behind than their brick-and-mortar-school-attending counterparts under the No Child Left Behind Act mandates.

Only 27 percent of virtual schools met the standard compared to about 52 percent of private and public brick and mortar schools. In the 2010-2011 school year, students in virtual charter schools run by education management organizations (EMOs) show lower proficiency on standardized tests compared to their peers in public schools and in privately managed charter schools. Proficiency is based on a federal standard called “adequate yearly progress” under the No Child Left Behind Act.

The National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado recently released its annual profile report on EMOs reflecting these findings (the report does not provide an analysis as to why or what the findings suggest). Online and charter schools often say that they often serve as alternative schools, serving more urban, poor communities. Some of their students have dropped out of other schools or did not belong in brick and mortar schools. So that is one explanation for why the online programs are underperforming. But is it an excuse? These schools promise to perform. When they don’t, there are consequences. That could spell trouble for companies like K-12 Inc. that sell online courses and services to charter schools and districts.

Reporting by Detroit Free Press Education Writer, Lori Higgins gives us some clues: 

Lead researcher [of the 2011-2012 annual profile report] Gary Miron, an education professor at WMU, said it’s unclear why so many virtual schools are not meeting the academic goals.

“These are not highly impoverished schools. … These schools should be more likely to meet adequate yearly progress,” he said.

Jeff Kwitowski, spokesman for the company [K-12 Inc], based in Herndon, Va., said using the adequate yearly progress standard to judge virtual schools is unfair.

“It’s not a reliable measure. The secretary of education has said that the AYP measure under (No Child Left Behind) is broken and unfairly labels schools as failing.”

Miron acknowledged some of the concerns about using the adequate yearly progress measure. But he pointed to research in Pennsylvania that looked at individual student achievement data and came to similar conclusions about virtual schools.

And, he said, when there is such a wide gap between the percentage of virtual charters meeting the standard and other public schools, “that’s pretty meaningful and significant.”

Some EMO Info
EMO’s are privately managed organizations that run public schools, usually charter or district.  They can be for-profit or non-profit and actually run 35 percent of charter schools and more than 40 percent of charter school students in the U.S. Charter schools serve public school students and are publicly funded. Most EMOs are privately held.

via Virtual Charters Lag Other Public Schools’ Performance, Report Says by Lori Higgins – Detroit Free Press 

via Students of Online Schools are Lagging by Jenny Anderson – New York Times

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