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Monday, November 05, 2007

VSS2007 (Guest Blogger) - “Cyberschool” Myths and Realities: Towards a Better Understanding of Full-Time Programs

Session notes from our guest blogger, Abby.

“Cyberschool” Myths and Realities: Towards a better understanding of full-time programs
John Watson
  • Definitions: Nomenclature important because people have preconceived ideas.
    • Online is definition of choice.
  • Supplemental program (not required for NCLB scores) verses full-time program
  • Multiple and single district programs (geographical reach)
  • 200% increase in 4 years – full time online program about 175
  • Students who gravitate to K-12 online schools
    • gifted and needing more challenge
    • struggling
    • rural
    • urban
    • elite athletes/performers
    • homebound
    • teen parents
    • students with high functioning autism-Asperger's syndrome
    • Mobile (military family)
  • Myths hearing about full-time schools
Myth #1: No Accountability
  • Reality is that full-time, online public cybershools publicly accountable through performance on state tests, regular reporting to authorizer/partner, open meetings of its non-profit goering body if charter school
  • students are required to participate in the state tests
Myth #2: Cyberschools are for middle class white kids.
  • Full time online schools across the country report 48% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch and 23% are minority students.
  • Students regardless of color and SES can do this.
Myth #3: Cyberschool teachers don't really teach
  • FT teacher interact with students/parents via telephone, email, in-person meetings, and we conferencing
  • Report knowing their students online as well or better than students F2F
  • Some states require state certification and online PD
Myth #4: Full-time online students sit in front of computer all day
  • lower grade levels on computer much less than upper grade levels
Myth #5: online schooling is much cheaper than traditional schooling
  • Augenblick Palaich / Bell South study: real cost is ranges from 7200 to 8300 per FTE for full-time online schools. Bottom line: Same cost as brick and mortar. main cost --> teachers and personnel. So even though can scale technology cannot scale student -teacher ratio.
  • Cyberschools can channel more funding to instruction than traditional schools can.
Myth #6: Full-time online schools aren't accountable
  • Cyberschools are accountable in the same ways all public schools are accountable in same ways as public schools, in some cases MORE
    • All NCLB/AYP requirements apply
    • State tests, including end-of-course and graduation tests
    • Reporting to the charter school authorizer
    • Online learning requirements in some states
  • An immense array of school data
Myth #7: Full-time online schooling is easy (especially for cheaters!)
  • Curriculum often notably rigorous
  • Multiple mechanisms for ensuring academic integrity
    • Teacher practice
    • Plagiarism check
  • In online school, every student is visible – no where to hide.
Myth #8: Cyberschooling isn't appropriate for younger students
  • Much better option in many cases than keeping kid at home being home-schooled in poor quality manner.
Myth #9: Full-time online schools have terrible test scores
  • Not all full-time online schools are created equal
  • Performance diverse as schools themselves
    • Florida: both online k-8 programs get A on 2007 school report
    • Arizona: Leading TAPBI schools rated performing and performing plus for 2006
    • Nevada: Exemplary AYP status and significant reduction % of non-proficient at risk students
Myth #10: Online students miss out on socialization
  • They don't necessarily want their kids to be socialized in that manner.
  • Parents want to control the socialization
MORE RESEARCH: Need to demonstrate longitudinal growth. So remediation --> Take them 3 -6 grade levels behind and bring them up to date.

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