Wednesday, October 05, 2011

A well-done feature in the Denver Post and a three-part series in the Colorado Springs Gazette revealing the abuses of online schools

 A well-done three-part series in the Colorado Springs Gazette and a feature in the Denver Post about the widespread abuses in online schools, which I'm very skeptical of for K-12 kids:

From the Denver Post:
In the beginning, there was Monte Vista On-Line Academy. Its state-assigned "pilot project" status signaled its daring, and its 13 students, wired up and logged on, were spared hours of bumping along rugged San Luis Valley roads to and from brick-and-mortar schools.
Now, no longer provisional or experimental, and championed by a strange-bedfellows mix of parents, school-choice advocates and social activists, online schools are a fixture of the Colorado landscape from rural outposts to inner cities.
Yet as online schools grow, offering solutions for many students who struggle in traditional schools, so do questions about performance and practice.
Each fall, thousands of kids enroll in online schools — in 2010, the number was 15,249, or nearly 2 percent of the state's K-12 total. And each year, thousands disappear from attendance rolls after the annual October head count that determines schools' per-pupil funding.
Those who remain generally fare worse on standardized testing than students in traditional schools, even as millions of taxpayer dollars feed a system that lurches ahead with sporadic official oversight.
"This thing is growing by leaps and bounds, and it's without controls in place that are appropriate or necessary for fully accredited programs," said online pioneer Lorenzo Trujillo, who contributed to a 2007 statewide report that served as the foundation for online regulations now in place.
Most troubling to critics are the vast numbers of students enrolled in online schools — authorized by charter authorities and brick-and-mortar districts — who seemingly disappear each year, according to data supplied by the schools to the Colorado Department of Education.
In the fall of 2009, the state's largest online school, Colorado Virtual Academy, reported enrollment of 5,006. By the end of the school year, state records show, COVA had lost just more than 1,000 students, or 21 percent of its initial enrollment. With the state paying about $6,000 per pupil, based on its fall head count, the state paid COVA roughly $6 million to educate students who were gone by the end of the year.
At the state's third-largest online program, Insight School of Colorado, enrollment plummeted by more than half from the fall of 2009 to the end of the school year in 2010.
Among other high-enrollment online schools, Hope Online Learning Academy Co-op lost 610, or about 22 percent of its 2,839 total. Colorado Connections Academy's enrollment of 1,060 dropped 13 percent.
"That's something we take very seriously and are looking at," said Amy Anderson, assistant commissioner of innovation and choice for the Colorado Department of Education.
State Sen. Brandon Shaffer, a Longmont Democrat who is running for Congress, wants to take a look at it too.
Last week, Shaffer called for a state audit of online schools, saying the plummeting enrollment after the October count suggests student rosters have been inflated to maximize funding from the state.

Oversight yet to catch up with Colorado's burgeoning online schools

Posted: 10/02/2011 01:00:00 AM MDT


From the Colorado Springs Gazette:

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.

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