California demands $2M refund from virtual charters
- The California Department of Education is seeking a $2 million refund from California Virtual Academies (CAVA), a non-profit network of 14 virtual schools, because or alleged improper use of state funds intended for the implementation of the Common Core math and English standards and other issues, according to EdSource.
- CAVA schools is filing an administrative appeal, claiming the allegations are not accurate.
- The organization has also had performances issues because fewer than half of CAVA’s high school students, many of whom had performed poorly or failed in regular school settings, earned their diplomas and few met the requirements to enter California State University or the University of California.
The concept of virtual charter schools seems like a good one, and in a perfect world, it may be the best way to deliver personalized education to the greatest number of students at the lowest cost. The problem, as many states are now discovering, is that the concept is difficult to deliver to human students in real-world scenarios. Many of the students now attending virtual charter schools are students who have failed to perform well in classroom settings and are turning to virtual schools in a last-ditch effort to earn a diploma. The problem is that students who perform poorly in a classroom situation, where accountability and help is more readily available, are not likely to stick with an educational method that offers little of either.
As a result, many virtual charter schools are struggling to produce good results. Ohio is perhaps the most notable example, but such results abound. States are also finding that just because a student is enrolled in a virtual school, does not mean they are actually logging in to complete schoolwork. In Ohio, charter schools as a whole are worried that virtual charters are significantly dragging down reports of charter school performance.
One way to solve the issue may be to use virtual charters in settings where accountability and support are available. Western Michigan Professor Gary Miron pointed out that virtual schools worked better in the beginning because early adopters tended to be home-schoolers who were used to an independent learning model and had parental guidance and support. Some states also use virtual schools in a school setting to offer classes that may not otherwise be available at the school. This model may have improved success in such situations.