The Cyber Schools are Failing

English: Comparison of Charter school performa...
English: Comparison of Charter school performance to public schools. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And why should anybody have expected anything else? Whose brilliant idea was it to have a cyber school without physical facilities? I teach online and maintain a blog. I don’t know about you but it is hard to stay focused on that keyboard when there are so many other things to do, and I’m an adult with years of education. I can’t imagine doing it as a child. The idea that parents who are often working would be able to supervise their children to stay on the computer for hours each day to take classes boggles the mind. The idea that the discipline and rules of a school necessary to keep children at those tasks could simply be abandoned in the hope of voluntary self education on the part of children was always a bit of a stretch.

It’s not working. Take their state money and send these for-profit failure on their way. We have real schools to fund.

James Pilant

From Junk Bonds to Junk Schools: Cyber Schools Fleece Taxpayers for Phantom Students and Failing Grades | Mary Bottari

The Data Is In: Kids Don\’t Learn Well in Front of Computer Screens

So while the public school system is bleeding money to cyber schools, how are those cyber students doing? Until recently, data on performance of these full-time virtual charters has been scarce. But educators at NEPC started to pull together performance data from multiple states for annual and special reports. They confirmed what many suspected: with rare exceptions, kids don\’t learn sitting in front of a computer all day. Using Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) state data, state performance rankings, and graduation rates, the researchers showed that full-time virtual schools lag significantly behind traditional brick-and-mortar schools. In particular, only 27.7 percent of K12 Inc. online schools met AYP in 2010-2011, compared to 52 percent of public schools. Of the 36 K12 Inc. schools that were assigned a school rating by state education authorities, only seven (19.4 percent) had ratings that clearly indicated satisfactory status. The same study shows that on-time graduation rates are also much lower at online schools than at all public schools on average in the United States: only 37.6 percent of students at virtual high schools graduate on time, whereas the national average for all public high schools is more than doubl

via From Junk Bonds to Junk Schools: Cyber Schools Fleece Taxpayers for Phantom Students and Failing Grades | Mary Bottari.

From around the web.

From the web site, Virtual School Meanderings.

I say interesting for a number of reasons, but one is due to the location.  Cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania (and Ohio for that matter) when they were first created did suffer from many of the problems described in these articles (e.g., lack of oversight, fraud in terms of funding provided for students that didn’t actually attend the cyber charter school, lack of participation in state testing regimes, etc.).  While I believe in both instances (i.e., Pennsylvania and Ohio) that things have gotten much better, I do still believe that within the traditional public education community this early “Wild West” mentality gained them a reputation that they still haven’t been able to shake (and that has followed cyber charter schools to other jurisdictions).

It is also interesting because the main focus of these articles is Pennsylvania.  You see a doctoral student of mine, Abigail Hawkins, and I did a study a couple of years ago looking at what policies K-12 online learning programs had with regards to trial periods (i.e., that period of time a student can try out an online course, drop it and not be counted as being officially enrolled) and how they calculated successful completions.  Note that this study will be published in the American Journal of Distance Education sometime this month. One of the results of that study was a finding that in Pennsylvania the state required that cyber charter schools not have a trial period – that their enrollment data was kept in the same manner as a brick-and-mortar public school (i.e., beginning on the first day of school).  This was the only jurisdiction where this was done.  What this means is that comparisons of completion rates, school performance and student performance can be accurately made between the cyber charter schools and the brick-and-mortar schools in Pennsylvania – and only Pennsylvania – because you are comparing apples to apples.

So let’s do some very basic comparisons.  The Standard of education article lists that there was 1 cyber charter school making AYP, 3 cyber charter schools that were making progress towards meeting AYP, and 7 cyber charter schools not meeting AYP.  When you compare this statewide (and you can get that data here), you get the following:

Type of school Made AYP Making Progress Towards AYP Did Not Meet AYP Total
Cyber Charter Schools 1 (9.1%) 3 (27.3%) 7 (63.7%) 11
Brick-And-Mortar Schools 2290 (73.8%) 149 (4.8%) 665 (21.4%) 3104
Total 2291 (73.5%) 152 (4.9%) 672 (21.6%) 3115

The numbers don’t look particularly good for the cyber charter school community.  I should note that it would be a much better comparison is you could compare the overall student data – which I’ve never done for Pennsylvania – although it would make a nice dissertation project because of the whole apples to apples thing.

3 thoughts on “The Cyber Schools are Failing

  1. Pingback: Discourse on Module Learning, Public School and Belt Ranking | Zee-Rebel

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