Virtual School Meanderings

May 12, 2020

Inside Look: Virtual schools Post-COVID-19

A very interesting think tank report review by the folks at the National Education Policy Center.

Inside Look

Great Lakes Center’s exclusive subscriber email featuring key points, information and social media content about reviews and research

May 7, 2020READ IN BROWSER
Hello, Great Lakes Center subscriber:

A new report published by the Mercatus Center argues that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, education budgets should be reallocated toward investments in virtual schools. It claims the pandemic presents Americans with the opportunity to experience the benefits of virtual schools.

However, a new Think Twice Review by the National Education Policy Center found the report does not address clear evidence of the long-term limitations and problems associated with virtual schools. Read on to learn more.

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

REPORT REVIEWED

Think Twice Reviewer Kevin Welner, a University of Colorado Boulder professor and director of the National Education Policy Center, reviewed Public-Private Virtual School Partnerships and Federal Flexibility for Schools During COVID-19. Welner found that while immediate crisis response to COVID-19 might involve schools partnering with private vendors, a long-term shift to virtual schools is not supported by the report.

WHAT THE REVIEWERS FOUND

Welner found the report does not address clear evidence of the limitations and problems associated with virtual schools. The report claims if Americans see the benefits of virtual schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it “could change education content delivery forever, making instruction more flexible and suited to the needs of each individual student.”

Virtual schools are primarily run by two private vendors, so the “public-private partnerships” involve districts contracting with one of the two vendors.
The report claims there is significant demand for virtual schools beyond the current health crisis, but that is not supported by its findings.

The report fails to recognize the numerous shortcomings of virtual schools, including low student achievement, less opportunity for students with the fewest advantages, limited ability to serve students with special needs, lack of needed infrastructure, an inability to provide group or team activities, and a lack of wraparound services. Another problem is the virtual school industry has been plagued by misuse of taxpayer funds.

Aside from brief discussions on infrastructure and special education, these pressing issues are not addressed in the report. Most concerning, the report does not acknowledge continuing limitations and problems associated with virtual schools.

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

Read the review →

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

Such reports advocate for privatizing our schools and marketing for-profit virtual schools and other alternatives to traditional learning with little substantiation. Such reports do not offer independent, accurate information for parents looking to make decisions about their children’s education.

TALKING POINTS TO REMEMBER

  1. A new report by the Mercatus Center does not acknowledge clear limitations and problems with virtual schools in its argument for reallocating taxpayer funds toward online learning post-COVID-19.
  2. The review noted clear shortcomings of virtual schools are already known, including those that directly and negatively impact students with the fewest advantages.
  3. The Mercatus Center provided little, if any, evidence to support its argument that virtual schools should be expanded.

SOCIAL SHARES

Want to share this Think Twice Review with your social networks? We drafted some sample social media posts for your use.
A new report published by the Mercatus Center argues with little evidence that education budgets should be reallocated to investments in virtual learning. A new report published by the Mercatus Center argues with little evidence that education budgets should be reallocated to investments in virtual learning.
A new review by @NEPCtweet found reallocating education budgets toward investments in virtual learning after #COVID19 would negatively impact students with the fewest advantages. A new review by @NEPCtweet found reallocating education budgets toward investments in virtual learning after #COVID19 would negatively impact students with the fewest advantages.
A new review by @NEPCtweet found little evidence for dedicating more public funds to virtual schools after the #COVID19 pandemic. A new review by @NEPCtweet found little evidence for dedicating more public funds to virtual schools after the #COVID19 pandemic.
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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.
Copyright © 2019 Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you opted in via our website.Our mailing address is:
Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice
PO Box 1263
East Lansing, MI 48826-1263

May 7, 2020

Inside Look: Education In The Time Of COVID-19: Remote Learning Part 1

A newsletter from the Great Lake Center for Education Research & Practice.

Inside Look

Great Lakes Center’s exclusive subscriber email featuring key points, information and social media content about reviews and research

May 5, 2020READ IN BROWSER
Hello, Great Lakes Center subscriber:

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, over 85% of American students are already not on track to complete the school year in their traditional setting. To assure learning continues, American educators are scrambling to create as many meaningful remote learning opportunities as possible.

In this issue, we address the current reality and future of remote learning.

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

THE ISSUE

Rapid national deployment of remote learning solutions raises questions about the future of online learning.

WHAT WE KNOW

Welcome to the Wild Wild West.

Remote learning has so many names and configurations it is difficult to characterize and study. Virtual schools, remote learning, online learning, e-learning, blended learning and personalized learning are all names for education programs that, to varying degrees, use technology in a student’s education.

This Inside Look deals with full-time virtual schools. Next week, we will tackle various part-time programs – often called personalized learning or blended learning.

Full-time virtual schools offer programs with no brick and mortar component for the student. Teachers interact with students exclusively online. These are often run by private for-profit companies such as K12 Inc. whose CEO reportedly makes over $2 million per year. In many states, they are funded by taxpayers as public charter schools. Typically, there is minimal government oversight. Profits are high because expenses are low; teachers often have very high student caseloads, and there is no rent for student facilities, no extra-curricular activities, no library, no student transportation, etc. These schools often receive the same per-pupil state reimbursement as a traditional school.

The most recent NEPC Virtual Schools Report states, “The available research has consistently found that students enrolled in full-time virtual schools perform at levels well below their counterparts in face-to-face schools. Recent research indicates that schools that provide a combination of virtual and face-to-face curriculum and instruction (i.e., blended schools) also perform at low levels compared to traditional brick-and-mortar schools. Finally, research also suggests that both virtual schools and blended schools may be more economical than traditional public schools.”

Overall, the academic performance of full-time virtual schools has been abysmal. Yet state legislatures have expanded them with little or no oversight.

In fact, the National Alliance for Charter Schools stated: “Most striking and troubling in these reports is the finding of large-scale underperformance by full-time virtual charter schools. If traditional public schools were producing such results, we would rightly be outraged. We should not feel any different just because these are charter schools.”

 

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

Online learning solutions offer the chance to provide effective learning during the pandemic although they are not the only means. Many educators are making calls and distributing paper homework packets to their students. However, online learning is the primary means of continuing education during the pandemic.

Widespread use of online learning should be viewed as an emergency measure due to the pandemic. True high-quality education requires full positive human interaction with adults trained in understanding student development. It requires relationships. As the Learning Policy Institute describes, we need to educate the whole child.

ISSUES

  1. There are thousands of online full-time and blended virtual learning systems.  Few, if any, have been independently assessed for quality or fidelity to academic standards.
  2. This trend can be expected to exacerbate the achievement gap as research demonstrates that students who struggle academically benefit significantly less from online learning.
  3. Overall, full-time virtual schools have abysmal student achievement and graduation rates when compared to traditional schools.
  4. Commercial online education vendors can be expected to market and promote their products.
  5. Student data privacy concerns are significant.

HELPFUL RESOURCES

  1. The Learning Policy Institute has issued this list of Resources for parents, teachers and schools.
  2. You can learn more about the state of Virtual Schools in this important report.

SOCIAL SHARES

Want to share this Think Twice Review with your social networks? We drafted some sample social media posts for your use.
Due to #COVID19, U.S. educators are scrambling to create remote learning opportunities for students. Due to #COVID19, U.S. educators are scrambling to create remote learning opportunities for students.
Over 85% of American students are not on track to complete the school year in their traditional setting due to COVID19. What does that mean for the future of #remotelearning? Over 85% of American students are not on track to complete the school year in their traditional setting due to COVID19. What does that mean for the future of #remotelearning?
Educators are working to create remote learning opportunities for students amid the #COVID19 pandemic. This rapid deployment of #remotelearning solutions raises questions about the future of online learning. Educators are working to create remote learning opportunities for students amid the #COVID19 pandemic. This rapid deployment of #remotelearning solutions raises questions about the future of online learning.
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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.
Copyright © 2019 Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you opted in via our website.

Our mailing address is:
Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice
PO Box 1263
East Lansing, MI 48826-1263

May 1, 2020

Inside Look: Education In The Time Of COVID-19: Student Privacy Concerns

Some important considerations during this time of emergency remote learning.

Inside Look

Great Lakes Center’s exclusive subscriber email featuring key points, information and social media content about reviews and research

April 28, 2020READ IN BROWSER
Hello, Great Lakes Center subscriber:

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused hundreds of thousands of school closings, affecting approximately 44 million students. To assure learning continues, American educators are scrambling to create as many meaningful online learning opportunities as possible.

In this issue, we address concerns about student privacy. Thanks to subscriber Amy V. Bland for her ideas and assistance with this issue.

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

THE ISSUE

Rapid national deployment of online learning solutions heightens concerns about student and family privacy, data collection and its use.

WHAT WE KNOW

Student privacy is a huge concern for schools. In a recent survey conducted by the Consortium for School Networking, it was the number one concern of K-12 IT leaders. In fact, the same report states cybersecurity attacks are increasingly targeting schools over the private sector because they are perceived to be less able to afford sophisticated defenses.

Last year, after several large data breaches, the FBI issued this warning about  the use of educational technology.

This year, Missisippi  and New Mexico have sued Google over student privacy concerns.

Many states have weak or nonexistent student privacy laws. National student privacy protection is limited to FERPA . The U.S. Department of Education recently held a webinar and provided some guidance on virtual learning and privacy under FERPA.

 

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

Children’s personal data may be exposed, even if the vendor has taken significant precautions and does not use or sell the data themselves. Data theft happens every day. If data is maintained and not deleted, there is the possibility of its inappropriate or illegal use.

Vendors of online programs may vary considerably in their actual policies and adherence to strict privacy. Parents and educators are encouraged to closely examine their school district privacy policies–especially as virtual learning proliferates.

HELPFUL RESOURCES

  1. The National Education Policy Center has published a newsletter on student privacy that is well worth a read.
  2. A compilation of state laws compiled by FERPA Sherpa can be found here.
  3. FERPA rules can be found here.
  4. Parents and teachers can obtain a free toolkit and valuable information from the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy.

SOCIAL SHARES

Want to share this Think Twice Review with your social networks? We drafted some sample social media posts for your use.
The #COVID19 pandemic has closed thousands of schools and pushed learning online for the foreseeable future. How might digital learning impact student and family privacy? The #COVID19 pandemic has closed thousands of schools and pushed learning online for the foreseeable future. How might digital learning impact student and family privacy?
Concerns about student and family privacy, as well as data collection, have been heightened due to the #COVID19 pandemic as schools shift to online learning. Concerns about student and family privacy, as well as data collection, have been heightened due to the #COVID19 pandemic as schools shift to online learning.
Resources are available for protecting privacy as students learn online due to #COVID19. Resources are available for protecting privacy as students learn online due to #COVID19.
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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.
Copyright © 2019 Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you opted in via our website.

Our mailing address is:
Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice
PO Box 1263
East Lansing, MI 48826-1263

April 27, 2020

Inside Look: Education In The Time of COVID-19: Education Issues

An interesting notice and definitely some issues to keep an eye out for.

Inside Look

Great Lakes Center’s exclusive subscriber email featuring key points, information and social media content about reviews and research

April 21, 2020READ IN BROWSER
Dear Great Lakes Center subscriber:

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing hundreds of thousands of school closings, American educators are scrambling to create as many meaningful online learning opportunities as possible. What does research tell us educators need to do? What are the issues?

Over the next few weeks, we will issue a special series of Inside Looks summarizing what research tells us about:

  • Student privacy issues
  • What we know about “personalized learning”
  • The Digital Divide: The student economic divide and its impacts
  • Commercialization of children’s education
  • Full-time virtual schools

Please watch for these. If you have other topics of interest you would recommend we cover, please email me with your suggestions. 

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

Follow Us
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Twitter
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.
Copyright © 2019 Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you opted in via our website.

Our mailing address is:
Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice
PO Box 1263
East Lansing, MI 48826-1263

April 24, 2020

Inside Look: A Flawed Take On Wisconsin Vouchers

An interesting item based on work from the National Education Policy Center.

Inside Look

Great Lakes Center’s exclusive subscriber email featuring key points, information and social media content about reviews and research

April 22, 2020READ IN BROWSER
Hello, Great Lakes Center subscriber:

A new report published by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) claims increasing the cap on Wisconsin’s voucher enrollment would set in motion a “ripple effect of economic benefits” throughout the Cheese State.

However, a new Think Twice Review by the National Education Policy Center found the report builds a mountain of speculation into claimed economic benefits from an expanded school voucher plan. Read on to learn more.

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

REPORT REVIEWED

Think Twice Reviewer William J. Mathis, managing director of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder, reviewed Ripple Effect: How Expanding School Choice Programs Can Lead to More College Graduates and a Stronger Economy. Mathis found a “failing of logic” in how the purported “ripple effect” would occur.

WHAT THE REVIEWERS FOUND

Mathis found the report builds great speculation with little evidence around the benefits of expanding Wisconsin’s voucher program. The report claims more low-income children will graduate from college if the state’s current cap on voucher enrollment is increased from 4% to 20%.

The report asserts the improved graduation rate will result in greater employment at higher wages, leading to increased personal wealth and a $3.2 billion overall economic impact over 20 years.

The report claims increasing the state’s voucher cap will also lead to more voucher students in K-12 schools who later graduate from college. As a result, the report argues, those college graduates will have higher lifetime earnings and spend more money throughout their lives. Ultimately, according to the report, this process would result in increased state and local tax revenues.

Overall, the report falls well short of backing its projections.

First and foremost, the report does not explain how the “ripple effect” would occur. The links made between each step are casual, weakly explained and lack support.

Also of concern is the report’s data, which are based on a large number of variables and rely on subjective, untrustworthy methods. For example, the claim voucher students would graduate from college with higher average incomes and spend more money over their lifetimes doesn’t account for several factors.For example, the job market may be unable to accommodate higher percentages of graduates entering the workforce, which would result in longer job searches for many.

The proposed increased voucher cap also may not result in an influx of new voucher students, given less than 1% of Wisconsin’s school districts currently reach the 4% voucher cap. This demonstrates little demand for increasing the cap to begin with.

In making its argument, the report relies primarily on a flawed theory that voucher use leads to a 38% increase in graduation rates from four-year colleges. The dollar figure associated with this supposed trend does not add up. The report states lifting the voucher cap would generate a $3.2 billion total economic impact, while figures presented in the report come up $91 million short of meeting that benchmark.

Overall, the report’s arguments are weakly explained and supported due to a lack of evidence and reliance on inaccurate numbers and data.
Read the full review on the Great Lakes Center website or on the National Education Policy Center website.

Read the review →

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

Such reports advocate for school choice and policies based on thin, at best, arguments and false evidence. Such reports do not offer independent or accurate information for parents looking to make the best decisions for their children’s education.

TALKING POINTS TO REMEMBER

  1. A new report published by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty relies on weak and false arguments for expanding Wisconsin’s voucher program.
  2. The review found the report does not explain how its projections can be realized, and makes casual links that are weakly explained and lack support.
  3. The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty relies on inaccurate numbers and data in making its key argument.

SOCIAL SHARES

Want to share this Think Twice Review with your social networks? We drafted some sample social media posts for your use.
A new report published by WILL relies on flawed, inaccurate evidence in arguing for the expansion of #Wisconsin’s school voucher program. A new report published by WILL relies on flawed, inaccurate evidence in arguing for the expansion of #Wisconsin’s school voucher program.
A new review by @NEPCtweet found little evidence expanding #Wisconsin’s voucher program would lead to higher graduation rates or greater economic outcomes. A new review by @NEPCtweet found little evidence expanding #Wisconsin’s voucher program would lead to higher graduation rates or greater economic outcomes.
A new review by @NEPCtweet found the numbers don’t add up in a new report calling for the expansion of #Wisconsin’s voucher program. A new review by @NEPCtweet found the numbers don’t add up in a new report calling for the expansion of #Wisconsin’s voucher program.
Follow Us
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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.
Copyright © 2019 Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you opted in via our website.

Our mailing address is:
Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice
PO Box 1263
East Lansing, MI 48826-1263

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