New Study Finds Virtual Schools Underperforming

School performance measures for both virtual and blended schools indicate that they are not as successful as traditional public schools, according to NEPC’s Sixth Annual Report on Virtual Education, Full-Time Virtual and Blended Schools: Enrollment, Student Characteristics, and Performance. The report provides a detailed overview and inventory of full-time virtual schools and of blended learning schools, including student demographics, state-specific school performance ratings, and—where data are available—an analysis of school performance measures.

As virtual school enrollment growth has continues, the study examines evidence suggesting that extremely large school sizes and large student-to-teacher ratios are key factors that explain the poor performance of these schools.

Full-time virtual schools deliver all curriculum and instruction via the Internet and electronic communication, usually asynchronously with students at home and teachers at a remote location. Blended, or hybrid, schools combine virtual instruction with traditional face-to-face instruction in classrooms.

The report, beyond adding to the evidence of poor outcomes for online schools, documents an interesting trend in the sector. Compared to prior years, there has been a shift in the type of schools with the most growth. We are now seeing more school districts opening their own virtual schools. These district-run schools typically focus on high school students and have relatively low enrollments. But the trend is nonetheless evident. Large virtual schools operated by for-profit education management organizations (EMOs) still dominate this sector; however, they have lost considerable market share.

Find Full-Time Virtual and Blended Schools: Enrollment, Student Characteristics, and Performance, by Gary Miron, Christopher Shank, and Caryn Davidson, on the web at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/virtual-schools-annual-2018

 

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