New Reports: Virtual Charter Schools Often Perform Poorly

POLITICO Pro reports that recent findings claim online charter schools often do a poor job serving the students most likely to choose them. Three reports examining virtual charter schools found that “academic benefits from online charter schools are currently the exception, rather than the rule.”

There are nearly 200,000 students in the United States enrolled in about 200 virtual charter programs.

The first report by Mathematica found that the principals’ greatest challenge revolved around the dependence of parents. Their role is to encourage and motivate students to stay focused and productive. It was difficult to communicate with parents and participate in training sessions.

CREDO at Stanford led another examination and indicated that many students’ needs are often not met before being enrolled in an online charter school. However, It was reported that the “schools’ problems have more to do with them being online programs than being online charter schools.”

A third report from the Center on Reinventing Public Education analyzed state polices on online charter schools and “found that regulations are created in response to problems rather than proactively.” The report recommend policy changes on data transparency and funding since it was found that not enough states link funding to students completing courses.

Leader of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Nina Rees, responded to the reports by calling the heads of virtual charter public schools “to dramatically improve oversight of their schools, which, in some cases, will mean closing them.”