- The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, or ECOT, which serves 15,000 Ohio students, tried to block a state audit of its attendance rates and corresponding funding levels, but a court ruled against the motion this week.
- The Plain Dealer reports there is a controversy over whether the $108 million ECOT received in state funding last year was proper, given the amount of time students spent logged into the online learning system per day.
- ECOT says the state moved the goalpost mid-year by asking for verification of the actual amount of time students spent learning, rather than considering only the learning opportunities offered by the school, as it had done in the past and initially said it would do until the 2016-17 school year.
Virtual charter schools have been under fire in recent years, accused of charging districts too much for what should be a more affordable education, without transportation or brick-and-mortar building and maintenance costs, for example. The National Alliance for Public Charter schools, the 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now and the National Association of Charter School Authorizers united to condemn student performance in virtual charter schools, issuing a report last month. For their part, virtual charter schools often claim to educate the children who have already slipped through the cracks of the traditional public school system, which explains at least part of why student progress is limited.
Attendance verification concerns have been identified beyond Ohio. Pennsylvania, for example, introduced a law this spring that would crack down on truancy policies among virtual charters.