Charter schools, Corporate, Domestic, Education Quality, Elementary / Primary / Junior, For-Profit, High school / Secondary 2, Legislation, Not-for-Profit, Required, School teachers - Written by on Saturday, January 14, 2012 10:00 - 0 Comments

Number Crunch: Why K-12 EMO Virtual Schools Give Students a Good Reason to Cry

My EMO virtual school sucks. photo: flickr user nirazilla


File this report in this week’s must read. The main take away from authors of new research: Most education management organization [EMO] K-12 online schools do not meet federal No Child Left Behind performance standards defined as adequate yearly progress. But always follow the cash to put numbers in context.

EMOs are companies like K12, Inc. and Connections Academy that manage and largely account for the huge growth in charter schools. The term EMO was hatched by Wall Street because these education companies operated much like health management organizations [HMO].

We covered this National Education Policy Center research earlier this week, but thought it was important to additionally note a closer look at the report’s source itself.

We agree the industry needs to be scrutinized and the most effective schools identified. But to be fair, know that some of the largest funders of the National Education Policy Center are  Teacher’s unions— groups decidedly unfriendly towards online education. The Los Angeles Times wrote a critical piece about teachers and did some digging:

“…a major source of funds for the policy center is the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice, a foundation set up by the National Education Association and six major Midwestern teacher unions affiliates. The NEA was one of the teacher union groups that backed an unsuccessful call for a boycott of The Times when “Grading the Teachers” was first published.

Another difficulty with this research is the adequate yearly progress [AYP] itself. Although researchers culled most of the data from state reports, sometimes the companies themselves updated the numbers themselves. The main problem is that standards and metrics swing widely from state to state.

Researchers note the AYP is a “crude indicator of whether schools are meeting state standards.” The problem is that EMOs that target lower income and low performance districts already have harder times hitting their adequate yearly progress marks. For comparison, an estimated 52 percent of all U.S. public and charter schools made adequate yearly progress.

Edweek has a good review of the current AYP landscape.

Beyond just online schools, for-profit EMOs have 394,000 students, over double the number from five years ago. Non-profit EMOs account for almost an equal number of students. Over 56 percent of non-profit EMO students made AYP compared to 48 percent in the for-profit group. Together, they amount to roughly 780,000 students across the nation. Performance in the over all group is roughly inline with traditional schools.


Read the full National Education Policy Center’s report.

via Students of Virtual Schools Are Lagging in Proficiency –

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