No one walks down Expecting that some cans contain rotten fruit just to make more choices. Likewise, no family seeks a school for their child, which they hope will have poor schools to choose from. This includes virtual schools, a rapidly growing segment of our public education system. Enrollment has doubled In less than 10 years and now serves more than 275,000 students.
Unfortunately, many virtual schools, which serve as charter schools, have also proved to be rotten apples. Since the end of last year, virtual charter schools have been closed or closed in Indiana, Georgia, Nevada, Ohio and South Carolina due to academic or financial problems. Earlier this year, a large-scale virtual school, tomorrow’s electronic classroom, Serving 12,000 Ohio Students, Closed because it presented inflated attendance data for the state, which resulted in the school being paid $ 80 million.
For taxpayers and many students, this closure is a step in the right direction. Yes, virtual schools work well for a small number of students, but almost every study of them has found that the results are disappointing for most students. The most definitive study ever found found that full-time virtual charters had a Extreme negative impact On student achievement, with students losing an average of 180 days learning in mathematics over a 180-day school year. As one researcher concluded, “It is literally as if the child did not go to school for a full year.”
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These are not the results that parents and taxpayers want from charter schools. In fact, they have positive educational implications for children across the country as opposed to brick-and-mortar charter schools. If virtual charters cannot live up to the high bar that all public charter schools are expected to get, they will have to face the consequences for their severe underperformance.
While it is good to see states and authorities – organizations that provide big-picture oversight of charter schools – taking a stand against the disappointing achievements of these schools, we must do more. After all, closing a failing school is not the same as providing a child with a good school. We need to make all kinds of more quality choices for children, families and communities that do not have good enough schools to choose from.
It begins by making policies at the state level that help make these public schools successful. A roadmap Released last year A good place to start is by my organization and two other national charter groups. This points to solutions such as setting clear expectations for each school’s performance; Allowing statewide authorities specializing in virtual schooling to oversee virtual operators with only statewide jurisdiction; And funding virtual schools based on performance and what it actually costs to run them.
If we are going to preserve the benefits found in this school model and provide students with better options in the future, we need to create an effective monitoring system that helps virtual schools succeed. We need a system that prevents bad apples from ever being offered as an alternative. We know how to get there, now we just have to work.