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Michigan online K-12 schools not as effective, says study

Mar 11, 2015

Online K-12 schools are expanding in Michigan, but researchers say the schools are often less effective than traditional schools
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A new report criticizes the expansion of online K-12 schools in Michigan.

Co-author Michael Barbour is with Sacred Heart University.

He says MEAP scores at full-time virtual schools are below the state average, mainly because the schools aren't doing what they promised.

"For as much as we hear in terms of the PR from these companies about personalized or individualized instruction, it is [actually]  a one-size-fits-all model," says Barbour.

Virtual schools in Michigan get the same per-pupil state funding as traditional schools.

But Barbour says the cost of providing online education is about 25% to 33% cheaper.

Barbour says there are a couple of virtual schools in Michigan that have done a good job, by looking at the cohort they intend to teach and creating the online program around their needs.

He says St. Clair RESA, for example, is running a successful online school for adjudicated youth.

But on the whole, Barbour says the expansion of online schools is outstripping the research on what is effective and what is not. 

He says most of the full-time online K-12 schools in Michigan are run by for-profits, which tend to resist efforts by his and other groups to conduct needed research.

For the full report:

http://greatlakescenter.org/docs/Policy_Briefs/Molnar_VirtualSchools2015.pdf