AERA 2014 - What Do We Actually Know? Examining the Research into Virtual Schools for Useful Models


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Barbour, M. K. (2014, April). What do we actually know? Examining the research into virtual schools for useful models. A presentation at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Philadelphia, PA.

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AERA 2014 - What Do We Actually Know? Examining the Research into Virtual Schools for Useful Models

  1. 1. Michael  K.  Barbour   Sacred  Heart  University  
  2. 2. •  “based  upon  the  personal  experiences  of   those  involved  in  the  practice  of  virtual   schooling”  (Cavanaugh  et  al.,  2009)   •  “a  paucity  of  research  exists  when   examining  high  school  students  enrolled  in   virtual  schools,  and  the  research  base  is   smaller  still  when  the  population  of   students  is  further  narrowed  to  the   elementary  grades”  (Rice,  2006)  
  3. 3. •  “indicative  of  the  foundational  descriptive   work  that  often  precedes  experimentation   in  any  scientific  field.  In  other  words,  it  is   important  to  know  how  students  in  virtual   school  engage  in  their  learning  in  this   environment  prior  to  conducting  any   rigorous  examination  of  virtual   schooling.”  (Cavanaugh  et  al.,  2009)  
  4. 4. 1.  Comparisons  of  student  performance  based  upon   delivery  model  (i.e.,  classroom  vs.  online)   2.  Studies  examining  the  qualities  and   characteristics  of  the  teaching/learning   experience     —  characteristics  of   —  supports  provided  to   —  issues  related  to  isolation  of  online  learners            (Rice,  2006)     1  Effectiveness  of  virtual  schooling   2  Student  readiness  and  retention  issues   (Cavanaugh  et  al.,  2009)  
  5. 5. Bigbie & McCarroll (2000)   over half of students who completed FLVS courses scored an A in their course & only 7% received a failing grade   Barker & Wendel (2001)   students in the six virtual schools in three different provinces performed no worse than the students from the three conventional schools   Cavanaugh et al. (2005)   FLVS students performed better on a non-mandatory assessment tool than students from the traditional classroom   McLeod et al. (2005)   FLVS students performed better on an algebraic assessment than their classroom counterparts   Barbour & Mulcahy (2008, 2009)   little difference in the overall performance of students based upon delivery model  
  6. 6. Ballas & Belyk (2000)   participation rate in the assessment among virtual students ranged from 65% to 75% compared to 90% to 96% for the classroom- based students   Bigbie & McCarroll (2000)   between 25% and 50% of students had dropped out of their FLVS courses over the previous two- year period   Cavanaugh et al. (2005)   speculated that the virtual school students who did take the assessment may have been more academically motivated and naturally higher achieving students   McLeod et al. (2005)   results of the student performance were due to the high dropout rate in virtual school courses  
  7. 7. Haughey & Muirhead (1999)   preferred characteristics include the highly motivated, self-directed, self-disciplined, independent learner who could read and write well, and who also had a strong interest in or ability with technology   Roblyer & Elbaum (2000)   only students with a high need to control and structure their own learning may choose distance formats freely   Clark et al. (2002)   IVHS students were highly motivated, high achieving, self-directed and/or who liked to work independently   Mills (2003)   typical online student was an A or B student   Watkins (2005)   45% of the students who participated in e-learning opportunities in Michigan were either advanced placement or academically advanced students  
  8. 8. •  Online  student  scores  in  math,  reading,  and  wri4ng   have  been  lower  than  scores  for  students  statewide   over  the  last  three  years.  (Colorado,  2006)   •  Virtual  charter  school  pupils  median  scores  on  the   mathema4cs  sec4on  of  the  Wisconsin  Knowledge  and   Concepts  Examina4on  were  almost  always  lower  than   statewide  medians  during  the  2005-­‐06  and  2006-­‐07   school  years.  (Wisconsin,  2010)   •  “Half  of  the  online  students  wind  up  leaving  within  a   year.  When  they  do,  they’re  oMen  further  behind   academically  then  when  they  started.”  (Colorado,  2011)  
  9. 9. •  “Compared  with  all  students  statewide,  full-­‐4me   online  students  had  significantly  lower  proficiency   rates  on  the  math  MCA-­‐II  but  similar  proficiency  rates   in  reading.”  (Minnesota,  2011)   •  “nearly  nine  of  every  10  students  enrolled  in  at  least   one  statewide  online  course,  all  had  gradua4on  rates   and  AIMS  math  passing  rates  below  the  state   average”  (Arizona,  2011)   •  “…students  at  K12  Inc.,  the  na4on’s  largest  virtual   school  company,  are  falling  further  behind  in  reading   and  math  scores  than  students  in  brick-­‐and-­‐mortar   schools.”    (Miron  &  Urschel,  2012)  
  10. 10. •  K12  Inc.  virtual  schools  enroll  approximately  the  same   percentages  of  black  students  but  substan'ally  more  white   students  and  fewer  Hispanic  students  rela4ve  to  public  schools   in  the  states  in  which  the  company  operates   •  39.9%  of  K12  students  qualify  for  free  or  reduced  lunch,   compared  with  47.2%  for  the  same-­‐state  comparison  group.   •  K12  virtual  schools  enroll  a  slightly  smaller  propor'on  of   students  with  disabili'es  than  schools  in  their  states  and  in  the   na4on  as  a  whole  (9.4%  for  K12  schools,  11.5%  for  same-­‐state   comparisons,  and  13.1%  in  the  na4on).   •  “Students  classified  as  English  language  learners  are   significantly  under-­‐represented  in  K12  schools;  on  average  the   K12  schools  enroll  0.3%  ELL  students  compared  with  13.8%  in   the  same-­‐state  comparison  group  and  9.6%  in  the  na4on.”   Miron,  G.  &  Urschel,  J.  (2012).  Understanding  and  improving  full-­‐4me  virtual  schools.  Denver,  CO:  Na4onal   Educa4on  Policy  Center.  
  11. 11. “AYP  is  not  a  reliable  measure  of  school   performance….    There  is  an  emerging   consensus  to  scrap  AYP  and  replace  it  with  a   better  system  that  measures  academic   progress  and  growth.    K12  has  been   measuring  student  academic  growth  on   behalf  of  its  partner  schools,  and  the  results   are  strong  with  academic  gains  above  the   national  average.”       Jeff  Kwitowski  -­‐  K12,  Inc.  Vice  President  of  Public  Affairs  
  12. 12. Watson  &  Gemin   (2009)   “online  schools  should  be  funded  within  the  range  of   brick-­‐and-­‐mortar  school  operating  costs.”     BellSouth  Foundation   (2006)     “the  operating  costs  of  online  programs  are  about  the   same  as  the  operating  costs  of  a  regular  brick-­‐and-­‐mortar   program.”     Florida  TaxWatch   (2007)     FLVS  was  $284  more  cost  effective  than  brick-­‐and-­‐mortar   education  in  2003-­‐04,  this  increased  to  $1048  more  cost   effective  by  2006-­‐07    
  13. 13. Colorado  Cyberschool   Association  (2004)   “cost  per  student  [of  cyber  schooling]  is  not  enormously   higher  than  for  in-­‐class  students.  Over  time,  cyber   education  will  become  substantially  more  cost-­‐efficient.”     Ohio  Legislative   Committee  on   Education  Oversight   (2005)   the  actual  cost  of  the  five  existing  full-­‐time  online  charter   schools  was  $5382/student,  compared  to  $8437/student   for  traditional  public  brick-­‐and-­‐mortar  schools.     Gillis  (2010)   Insight  School  was  able  to  operate  their  full-­‐time  online   charter  schools  at  a  cost  of  only  $6,480/student  (which   was  approximately  65%  of  the  cost  of  brick-­‐and-­‐mortar   education)     Barbour  (2012)   St.  Clair  Virtual  Learning  Academy  cost  16%  less  in   2009-­‐10  and  was  projected  to  cost  7%  less  in  2010-­‐11  to   provide  full-­‐time  online  learning  than  traditional  brick-­‐ and-­‐mortar  schooling     Fordham  Institute   (2012)   traditional  brick-­‐and-­‐mortar  education  costs  on  average   $10,000/student,  full-­‐time  K-­‐12  online  learning  costs   between  $5,100/student  to  $7,700/student  
  14. 14. Director  of  Doctoral  Studies   Sacred  Heart  University   hhp://   hhp://