Virtual School Meanderings

July 8, 2020

Register Now For Summer & Fall Online Courses

An item from a US-based K-12 online learning program.

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Registration is open for 2020-2021!

All VHS Learning courses are open for registration, including fall, full-year, summer school, and ongoing credit recovery! Choose from over 200 online classes to earn credit, explore new subjects, and achieve academic goals. Fall and full-year classes begin September 2nd. Register now for best availability!

Register Now

VHS Learning offers fall, spring, and full-year courses that fit into students’ busy schedules. From STEM courses with hands-on labs to humanities that broaden their understanding of the human experience, students can always find something to pique their interest.

4-week summer session begin July 20th! Summer courses are teacher-led, have established deadlines, and are available for 0.5 credits. All eligible courses are NCAA-approved.

Advanced Placement®

AP classes give students the opportunity to study advanced topics in high school and potentially earn college credit. Offering AP online is a great way to provide options for students that are otherwise too costly. VHS Learning students consistently score higher than the national average on AP exams.

Credit Recovery

Credit Recovery courses are self-paced, so motivated learners can complete their course in as little as four or eight weeks. Courses are available for 0.5 and 1 credit and can start at any time.

Did you know that students and parents can register and pay for VHS Learning courses individually? Students will be provided with transcripts to submit to their school for credit. If you would like to provide this option for your students and parents, please send them the link:

VHS Learning (VHS, Inc.) is a nonprofit leader providing world-class online programs to students and schools everywhere. Our program is accredited by Middle States Association (CESS), ACS Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and Cognia and our courses are approved by NCAA.

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July 2020 Newsletter: Canadians Deserve A Better Internet

This was an interesting item from a Canadian outlet that could have major implications for K-12 distance, online, and blended learning in Canada.

Member Newsletter

July 2020

Canadians deserve a better internet

New report: Canadians Deserve a Better Internet 2020

CIRA’s latest report details Canadians’ views on key digital and internet policy issues that will help inform policy discussions ahead of the Canadian Internet Governance Forum.

Overall, the report shows Canadians’ growing anxiety about cybersecurity-related issues, including a significant drop in their willingness to disclose personal information for better content and services online. In 2019, 72 per cent of Canadians said they were willing to disclose some or a little personal information in exchange for valuable content or service. Only one year later, with the exception of online banking services, the vast majority of Canadians say they are unwilling to share their personal data in exchange for better online services. Read the full report here.

Contribute to the discussion by registering for the fully-virtual free event, which has been rescheduled to November 24th and 25th due to COVID-19. Registration will re-open in October—stay tuned!

CIRA’s Board of Directors Election: Help shape Canada’s digital future!

Earlier this summer, interested and qualified individuals had the opportunity to apply for the Nomination Committee slate in the Board of Directors election. Applications are currently being reviewed and the candidates who will appear on the final Nomination Committee slate will be posted on our election site on July 29.

This same day marks the launch of our next round of nominations where interested and qualified CIRA members will have another opportunity to apply to be a board director, through the exclusive Member slate. If you have the skills and experience we’re looking for in a board director, consider applying to join CIRA’s board.

Community Investment Program: This year’s grant recipients are announced!

One June 25, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) announced the latest recipients of its annual $1.25 million Community Investment Program granting initiative. The 20 funded projects will help improve internet infrastructure, digital literacy, and cybersecurity “street smarts” for students and Indigenous, rural, and Northern communities across the country.

To date, the Community Investment Program has awarded $7.95 million across 171 projects. Learn more about this year’s list of grant recipients.

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) is the organization that manages Canada’s .CA domain name registry, develops and implements policies that support Canada’s internet community and represents the .CA registry internationally. You are receiving this email because you have an account with the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), or because you are a CIRA member.

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Education Dive – The Impact Of COVID-19 On E-Learning

Over the past week or two – maybe more – the various newsletters that I have received for Education Dive has included this at the top.

Industry DiveTRENDLINE

The Impact of COVID-19 on E-LearningIn our latest Trendline, explore how school districts are thinking about the back-to-school season and how coronavirus has pushed many to consider hybrid models and remote-learning options. Access now.

I haven’t had much of a chance to review the full content, but I did register and took a quick look to see several articles related to remote learning and hybrid learning.  Check it out yourself…

State Virtual Schools Vs Course Choice In Pandemic Response

An interesting item from John Watson.  One of the things that John doesn’t get into below is that most of the state virtual schools are non-profit, almost service ventures (i.e., their role is to provide opportunity and access to students in their state), whereas many of the course choice operators are either for profit or operated by for profit.

Now I know that in the US, there is a large segment that has just accepted the idea that for profit corporations should have the ability to directly operate (and profit from) public education – and not that I’m saying John is one of those folks.  But I do think that this reality is something that should be included in the discussion of these topics.

Essentially, in addition to John’s question about “relative merits of using state virtual schools, versus course choice programs, among states that wish to promote supplemental online learning course availability for students in mainstream districts,” we should also consider what impact that has on who actually receives the money that we have allocated to public education.

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State virtual schools vs course choice during the pandemic 


Over the last ten years or so there has been a quiet debate about the relative merits of using state virtual schools, versus course choice programs, among states that wish to promote supplemental online learning course availability for students in mainstream districts. The pandemic may be providing an additional data point in this debate—although it’s still early.

State virtual schools are entities that are subsidized by the state government to provide online learning opportunities to students across the state. Examples include state virtual schools in South Carolina, Georgia, Montana, Idaho, and about two dozen states in total. In some states (e.g. Michigan) the state virtual school also plays a leading role in research and reporting. In other states (e.g. Florida) the state virtual school also provides a full-time school option for students. Still, the core of all such entities is providing supplemental online learning courses.

Course choice (also commonly referred to as “course access”) describes a set of state-level policies and programs that allow students to choose an online course from one or more providers, and have their public education funds flow to the online course provider. The key element of the policy, as the term suggests, is that students and parents have the right to choose a course, with relatively few restrictions on their options imposed by the state or the student’s district of enrollment.

I say “quiet debate” because I’m not aware of any conference presentations, op-eds, or other avenues in which the merits of the two approaches have been openly debated. Also, in three states (Georgia, Florida, and Michigan), the two policy strategies work in tandem.

But those three states are the exception. The other dozen states that have course choice policies do not have state virtual schools, and the other states that have state virtual schools don’t have course choice. In Louisiana and Utah, the course choice policy seems to have been part of an explicit shift away from supporting the state virtual school.

What are we seeing during the pandemic? What follows are some observations based mostly on media reports. To be clear, this is not the subject of a serious study. But it appears that early data points suggest that state virtual schools are better positioned to respond to the growth in remote learning needs than the course choice programs.

One main reason for this difference is that state virtual schools are actual entities—with leaders, staff, offices, etc—that can receive additional government money and scale up relatively quickly. Course choice is mostly based on a policy shift that allows students to select an online course, with a limited entity overseeing the policy. In addition, most state virtual schools have a longer history than most course choice programs, and in many cases are better known.

Examples of increased support for state virtual schools during the pandemic include:

Most, if not all, of this funding increase is from federal funds via the CARES Act and other funding flowing to states. Therefore, it is likely that this will be a one-time increase, pending additional federal funding.

In contrast, we’re not seeing examples of course choice being pushed in response to school closures and the need for remote learning. In fact, in discussing the new course choice program in Illinois, Chalkbeat asks this question: Illinois debuted a virtual learning system months before the pandemic. Why is no one talking about it?

Are we missing activity that is happening on the ground? Perhaps. But a quick search of websites and news related to the main course choice programs doesn’t show much increased activity. One exception may be the Launch program in Missouri, which is run by the Springfield school district under the state’s course choice regulations.

Course choice policies and state virtual school programs represent two different types of state governments’ responses to the state’s desire to increase online learning course opportunities for K-12 students. We know of successful examples of both approaches, and this post is not meant to suggest that we favor one over the other. But the early returns appear to suggest that, so far at least, states with state virtual schools are a bit better situated to respond to school closures and remote learning, compared to states that have created course choice policies.

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Think Twice Review: Lack Of Evidence, Incorrect Methodology Discredit Reports On Charter School Impacts

Another note on that think tank report review by the National Education Policy Center.

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Hello, Great Lakes Center subscriber:

Two reports written by Reason Foundation authors examine different aspects of the impacts of charter schools. The first report asks whether the frequency of student misbehavior is lower in Pennsylvania charter schools compared to public schools. The second report asks whether principals of public schools in Texas change budget allocations when faced with the threat of charter school competition. The authors pose interesting questions regarding the advantages of charter schools, but do not provide adequate evidence to back their claims. Read on to learn more.

Dr. Gretchen Dziadosz 
Executive Director
Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice


Think Twice Reviewer Bruce Fuller, a professor of education and public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, reviewed “Are Charter Schools Safer than District-Run Schools? Evidence from Pennsylvania” and “Effects of Charter School Competition on District School Budgeting Decisions: Experimental Evidence from Texas.” The two reports look at impacts of charter schools that are studied less frequently.


Fuller found the two reports fall short in providing evidence to back their claims.

The first report on Pennsylvania’s schools shows rates of student infractions on average are lower in charter schools. Using that data, the author states outcomes for students would improve if access to public charter schools in the state were increased. The author also states the methods of compiling the data are limited and the results can be defined as correlational instead of causal.

Fuller stated it is unclear whether differences in the data are due to the selection of “certain kinds of families” in charter schools, or from the organizational practices of charter schools. He noted the lower rate of student infractions comes from data in Philadelphia County, which serves large populations of disadvantaged students. However, it does not cover other parts of the state.

The second report makes the claim that principals in Texas will change how they allocate school budgets if faced with the threat of competition from the opening of a hypothetical charter school. The report claims principals change budget allocations for different positions and instructional resources and claims anticipated charter school competition has “large negative effects” on reported spending in certain categories of support staff.

Fuller determined the report provides little significant statistical information because it was informed by just 8% of Texas principals who participated in a statewide survey. As a result, it would be difficult to generalize the report’s findings, he concluded.

Neither report should be used to help determine education policy due to their lack of evidence to support their wide-ranging claims.

Read the full review on the Great Lakes Center website or on the National Education Policy Center website.


The two reports do not offer enough evidence to support their claims and are flawed in their methodology. Due to their limited scope, the reports should not inform education policy decisions.


  1. New reports by Reason Foundation authors do not offer enough evidence to support their claims about certain impacts of charter schools in Pennsylvania and Texas.
  1. The review found the reports do not use enough evidence or correct methodology in examining the impacts of charter schools on student behavior and budget allocations.
  1. The reports are of little practical use to policymakers due to their lack of evidence.


Want to share this Think Twice Review with your social networks? We drafted some sample social media posts for your use.
New reports by the Reason Foundation do not offer enough evidence about certain impacts of charter schools in Pennsylvania and Texas. New reports by the Reason Foundation do not offer enough evidence about certain impacts of charter schools in Pennsylvania and Texas.
A new review by @NEPCtweet found recent Reason Foundation reports do not provide enough evidence or correct methodology in determining impacts of charter schools on student behavior and budget allocations A new review by @NEPCtweet found recent Reason Foundation reports do not provide enough evidence or correct methodology in determining impacts of charter schools on student behavior and budget allocations
A new review by @NEPCtweet found a Reason Foundation report fails to provide adequate evidence to support its claims about student behavior and budget allocations. A new review by @NEPCtweet found a Reason Foundation report fails to provide adequate evidence to support its claims about student behavior and budget allocations.
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Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policymakers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
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