ECP: Proof that K12 Online Schools are worse than Public Schools

There is NO ACCOUNTABILITY for online schools. Academic performance declined after students enrolled in online programs. Students who stayed in online programs long enough to take two years’ worth of state reading exams actually saw their test results decline over time. We know online in general does not do as well as traditional schools.


Analysis shows achievement drop for students

October 02, 2011 5:18 AM
I-News Network and Education News Colorado
The Series:
Part 1: Colorado’s online schools will get $100 million from the state this year despite a record of high turnover and low achievement. Plus, how online schools affect El Paso County’s seven largest districts.
Part 2: An analysis shows that students’ test scores drop after they enroll in online schools.
Part 3: Tuesday. Despite a 2006 audit blasting the Colorado Department of Education for failing to monitor online schools, the lax oversight has continued.
Students attending Colorado’s full-time online education programs have typically lagged their peers on virtually every academic indicator, from state test scores to student growth measures to high school graduation rates.
But an independent analysis of previously unreleased online school data by the I-News Network and Education News Colorado reveals new findings and an achievement gap that alarmed education officials:
• Online students are losing ground. Students who transfer to online programs from brick-and-mortar schools posted lower scores on annual state reading exams after entering their virtual classrooms.
Academic performance declined after students enrolled in online programs. Students who stayed in online programs long enough to take two years’ worth of state reading exams actually saw their test results decline over time.
• Wide gaps persist. Double-digit gaps in achievement on state exams between online students and their peers in traditional schools persist in nearly every grade and subject – and they’re widest among more affluent students.
A top state education official called the findings “very concerning.”
“We’ve got to ask some questions here and we’ve got to see what’s going on,” said Diana Sirko, deputy commissioner of learning and results for the Colorado Department of Education.
Sirko said the CDE will launch a “comprehensive review” of online standards and accountability under the guidance of a newly hired choice and innovation chief, Amy Anderson, who began work Aug. 29.
Poor achievement has done little to stem the popularity of virtual programs, with online enrollment growing last year at a pace seven times faster than that of traditional schools.
Online schools in Colorado are now a $100 million a year industry.
“We know online in general does not do as well as traditional schools,” said Randy DeHoff, a former State Board of Education member who now works for GOAL Academy, one of the state’s newest and largest online programs. “That’s because so many are coming in so far behind. Online tends to be kind of their last option.”
DeHoff’s program targets, at least in part, students who have struggled in conventional classrooms. In 2009-10, nearly 400 GOAL students identified as homeless.
Although data on all at-risk factors is not available, the analysis of state data shows that most online school students do not appear to be at-risk students. Only about 120 students of the more than 10,000 entering online programs last year were identified as previous dropouts returning to school, and only 290 entered online schools after spending the prior year in an alternative school for troubled youth.
In addition, the analysis looked at the 2,400 online students who had taken a state standardized reading test in a brick-and-mortar school the year before. More than half had scored proficient or better.
Online programs as a group have become more diverse as enrollment has grown. However, they still serve fewer poor and minority students than the state as a whole. From fall 2008 through fall 2010, minority enrollments in online schools was about 35 percent, compared to 40 percent for all public schools. The percentage of online students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch was 27 percent to 30 percent, and about 35 percent statewide.
Online student scores on statewide achievement tests were consistently 14 to 26 percentage points below state averages for reading, writing and math over the past four years. The gap in reading and writing has remained about the same between 2008 and 2011, and the gap in math has risen several percentage points.
“I think the achievement gap that your data shows is very alarming,” said State Board of Education member Elaine Gantz Berman.
Colorado Virtual Academy, the state’s largest online program with more than 5,000 students, has seen its poverty rate double to 19 percent and its minority population rise to 22 percent in the past five years.
Those figures are still below state averages – as are COVA’s test results.
A mom who represents one segment of virtual families, traditional homeschoolers, said she simply isn’t interested in test scores.
“You’ll find that most homeschoolers don’t care about tests,” said Liese Carberry, who has enrolled her three children in COVA and Kaplan online programs. “That’s because we have seen learning happen for the sake of learning, not for the sake of a few points on a graph.”
Timothy Booker, who chairs the charter school board overseeing COVA, said families who enrolled prior to the recent growth explosion in online tended to have at least one involved parent and homeschooling experience.
“That has changed over the years,” he said. “We’ve kind of been discovered by kids who … we might be the school of last resort, they’ve tried brick-and-mortar and they’re not getting anywhere.”
Between 2004 and 2011, COVA’s reading scores dropped six percentage points and math results flatlined.  Academic growth indicators put student progress at 29 in math and 36 in reading, far below the state average of 50.
During those years, a state law requiring online students to have previously attended a brick-and-mortar school was repealed and enrollment in COVA – which targets homeschoolers – more than doubled.
Booker described board members as “very concerned” about the school’s progress and said they discussed ending their contract with K12 Inc., the Virginia-based online provider that operates virtual schools in 27 states. In 2009-10, K12 Inc. received $22 million in public funding to operate COVA.
But Booker said a one-on-one conversation with the head of K12 Inc. led to a sharper focus on professional development for COVA teachers, emphasizing the need for more student interaction.
“We’re not happy at all,” he said of overall academic results, but after discussions with his school’s corporate leader: “We’re starting to be hopeful.”
The I-News and EdNews analysis also looked at the test scores of students in online schools over time, finding performance declined.
For example, 2,729 online school students took state reading tests in both 2009 and 2010.
Sixty percent were proficient in 2009. But that fell to 54 percent the next year.
And students making the switch from traditional public schools to online also saw their scores drop. Some 2,414 students took the reading exams in traditional schools in 2009, then in an online program the next year. Their proficiency rate declined from 58 percent to 51 percent.
Online schools also had among the highest dropout rates and lowest graduation rates in the state over the past two years. In 2010, fewer than one in four online school seniors graduated compared to nearly three of every four high school seniors statewide.
The dropout rate in the top 10 largest online programs last year was 12 percent – quadruple the state average of 3 percent. Colorado’s online schools produced three times more dropouts than graduates. That’s the opposite of the state average, where there are three graduates for every one dropout.
Other studies of online students have found similarly poor results.
The state’s annual online school report released in June found that “results indicate achievement of online students consistently lags behind those of non-online students, even after controlling for grade levels and various student characteristics,” such as poverty, English language ability and special education status.
The I-News and EdNews analysis also looked at how online schools fare with students by income level. The finding: Students eligible for federal lunch assistance in online programs perform worse than low-income students in traditional schools on state reading, writing and math exams.
But the gaps between online students who are not low-income and their peers statewide are much larger, particularly in math.  The math gap between poor students in online versus brick-and-mortar schools was 20 points in 2010 – but it was 37 points that year among more affluent students.
One of Colorado’s oldest online programs, Branson Online School, is also its highest-performing. But to get there, the school had to cut back.
In 2005, the Branson school district on Colorado’s southeastern border with New Mexico ran the state’s third-largest online school, enrolling more than 1,000 students. By 2010, the school had dropped back to sixth in size, enrolling 427 students.
Branson assistant superintendent Judith Stokes, who oversees the online school, said the growth and lagging scores — combined with a critical 2006 state audit of online programs — prompted the ranching community’s school board to slow down.
“We had grown very, very rapidly at one time, before the audit, and at that point, we pulled back,” she said.
Stokes said growth slowed when the school focused on ensuring families understood the online program before enrolling because, “If you’re looking for easy, it’s not us.”
In spring 2011, Branson online students beat the statewide average in proficiency in reading and were six percentage points short in math.
DeHoff, the former State Board of Education member, said online schools need to do more to show academic progress. He believes they’re trying.
“We’re figuring out that most kids need more than just a course over the computer,” he said. “So online programs are doing much more in the way of field trips and social gatherings … more movement, like GOAL has, of teachers having face-to-face contact – not just virtually but in the same location.
“You really do need both.”
Sirko said the state’s comprehensive review will attempt to look at what’s behind the numbers.
“I think the market-driven environment in having choices and options for kids is a very good thing,” she said. “But I think this is one of those unintended consequences, if we’re not careful, where kids become a victim of the choice rather than a beneficiary of it.“

Tips for Selecting Your Child’s New School After a Move

Moving is a difficult process that takes time, money and energy. Spend the time on finding a quality school for your children before you relocate to ensure they will be getting a good education.

Tips for Selecting Your Child’s New School After a Move

All parents know that once you have children, their well-being becomes first priority. Providing food, clothing, and shelter are just a few of the responsibilities parents have. Children need regular medical and dental checkups, plenty of physical activity, and their parents’ encouragement to develop properly.

One of the most important parental concerns you have is choosing the right school for your child, especially after moving into a new neighborhood.

Find a School

While parents have differing ideas about the dynamics of public versus private schools, all would agree that finding a school where their children are motivated to learn and achieve is ideal. Principals and administrators are one of the most important aspects of a school, because they are with whom all things begin and end. Teachers must know how to relate to children and inspire students to learn. Every child is full of potential and it is up to both the parents and the school faculty to bring out that potential.
Whether you are thinking about elementary school, high school, or college, parents, teachers, and the resources of the school all play roles in a child’s education.  Where you live, also, has a lot to do with whether or not your child will get the best education. If you happen to live in a not-so-great school district where curriculum standards are lacking, it may be time to explore other options.
Find an Apartment
The decision to move is never an easy one. You may have established roots in a community and your job may be conveniently located near your home. However, finding apartments listings across town so your child can get the best education possible is something to consider. If one parent cannot move because of job limitations, the other parent may be able to temporarily move with the child into an apartment close to the new school.
What Type of Apartment Can You Afford?
If you choose to obtain a new residence, it is important to find a relatively inexpensive apartment that will provide adequate shelter and be in the school district that you prefer your child to attend. It does not particularly matter if you can only afford a small one or two bedroom place, just as long as it can comfortably accommodate you and your child.
School DirectoryThe School and the Teachers
You should do as much research as possible into the school you are considering for your child.  The process includes surveying the neighborhood, talking with the principal and some of the faculty members, and asking a lot of questions. Of course, you’ll want to know the basics, such as the courses offered and the success rate of students. You’ll be able to get a good idea of any educational institution’s quality by not only talking to the administrators and teachers, but by asking to observe an actual class or two. While some school administrators might be hesitant to approve this request, most will happily arrange for you to see firsthand how the teachers interact with the students. Private schools especially go out of their way to educate parents on the features of their school. Public schools depend on your tax dollars so you’re entitled to answers regarding your child’s future.
Colleges and Universities
If you need to find an apartment in a college town to be close to your son or daughter, there are a number of ways to approach the situation. Most college towns have an extensive collection of apartment buildings that cater to college students’ budgets. They also have private homes with owners who rent to students during the school year. You can find listings in local newspapers, campus newspapers, or websites that list local apartment rentals.
Staying on a Budget
If you are on a budget for housing, you can keep your costs down by encouraging your child to share an apartment with one or more roommates. In addition, it can be beneficial for students to have roommates who are also students; they can study together and help each other cope with life away from home.
This guest post was written and provided by Martha Keagan who is a freelance writer, full time mother and part time local apartment rentals broker.

Elisabeth Murdoch made $214M on sale to father’s company

News Corp. paid $675 million in April, with about $480 million going to Elisabeth Murdoch’s equity partners, according to the report.

Lucian Freud father to
Sigmund Freud – Ernst Freud – Clement Freud
House of Commons —- Clement Freud
Clement Freud Father of Matthew Freud who is married to Elisabeth Murdoch
Matthew is Freud Communications Ltd.
News Corp. paid $675 million in April, with about $480 million going to Elisabeth Murdoch’s equity partners, according to the report.

Cell-phone robot encourages green life

A robot made from used mobile phone shells sits reading a book on a colorful bench in a post shop in Beijing, July 13, 2011.

Cell-phone robot encourages green life

Mobile phone company Nokia is swapping old phones for movie tickets at post shops in Beijing in a bid to encourage their consumers to start a low-carbon, green life. The company will recycle the phones and ensures that any renovation or components direct reuse will not occur.[Photo/CFP]
Continue reading “Cell-phone robot encourages green life”


A system-wide scandal

Reaping what’s been sown
A newly released Georgia investigation shows rampant, systematic cheating on test scores in Atlanta’s public schools, ending two years of increasing skepticism over remarkable improvements touted by school leaders, The New York Times reports. The results of the investigation showed the cheating occurred at 44 schools and involved at least 178 teachers and principals, almost half of whom have confessed. A culture of fear, intimidation, and retaliation existed in the district, which led to a conspiracy of silence, according to Gov. Nathan Deal. “There will be consequences,” he added, which will certainly include dismissals. The findings of the investigation will be delivered to district attorneys in three counties where cheating most likely took place. At the center of the scandal is former Superintendent Beverly Hall, named the 2009 National Superintendent of the Year and considered one of the nation’s best at running large, urban districts. She took over the Atlanta district in 1999 with broad support; the investigation shows cheating on the state-mandated Criterion-Referenced Competency Test began as early as 2001, and that “clear and significant” warnings were raised as early as December 2005. Dr. Hall’s administration punished whistle-blowers, hid or manipulated information, and illegally altered documents related to the tests, the investigation found.
Related: and
Interface by Elizabeth Jensen Reporting by Alan Judd and Heather Vogell
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The state launched investigations into test-cheating in Atlanta Public Schools after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published analyses in 2008 and 2009 that found suspiciously high gains on the state Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.
State education officials’ examination of erasures on answer sheets found suspicious numbers of wrong-to-right corrections on the 2009 CRCT in 58 Atlanta schools, far more than in any other Georgia district. The Atlanta district’s own review – performed by a panel that came to be known as the Blue Ribbon Commission – suggested that cheating was concentrated in just 12 of the 58 schools. But a criminal inquiry, the results of which were released Tuesday, documented evidence of widespread cheating.
Click on one of the icons on the map or one of the school names below to view more information about each school. Roll over the icon for a summary. View the original analysis and retest scores at