- A new study by New York University Professor June Ahn, published by the Fordham Institute, highlights the limits of Ohio’s statewide virtual school, arguing it cannot serve as an alternative to traditional schooling.
- The Hechinger Report writes the perception that it can replace traditional programs may be contributing to low student achievement, especially when students turn to virtual schools because they are behind in coursework — though in Ohio, students can't supplement their curriculum with virtual classes, they must leave their local schools entirely.
- The study found a majority of students enrolled in virtual charter schools in Ohio are low-achieving, with a disproportionate number needing special education services, and the research shows if some of their failure was tied to lack of support in traditional schools, they are not likely to be successful in a virtual platform.
Most states have virtual schools that give students an opportunity to take classes that aren’t offered in their own schools or to catch up on coursework. In many cases, students can use the virtual schools to create a blended experience. New Hampshire’s virtual school program has been held up as a model. It uses a competency system to track student progress through their courses, and the school only gets paid by the state when students pass a class.
In Ohio, the school system gets paid based on enrollment, though the state is trying to push back on that by requiring schools to track participation. If students don’t participate, even if they are enrolled, schools soon will not be able to collect state dollars for educating them.
Nationwide, virtual charter schools have been criticized for low student performance. The National Alliance for Public Charter schools, the 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now and the National Association of Charter School Authorizers called for greater accountability of virtual charters in June.