Virtual School Meanderings

April 18, 2016

News from the NEPC: Report on Online Charters a Solid Contribution

Note this item that is specifically related to K-12 online learning…

Much work remains to be done for online charter schools to be successful
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Report on Online Charters a Solid Contribution

Key Review Takeaway: Much work remains to be done for online charter schools to be successful
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BOULDER, CO (April 18, 2016) – Over the past decade, online charter schools have increasingly been the subject of critical or negative news. A recent study from the Center for Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) provides an in-depth analysis of policy features across the states that allow online charters, concluding that perhaps the online charters should use a separate regulatory framework than brick-and-mortar charters.

Gary Miron, a professor at Western Michigan University, reviewed The Policy Framework for Online Charter Schools for the Think Twice Think Tank Review Project at the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder’s School of Education.

Professor Miron describes the report as presenting a well-organized description of policy features and as including a set of policy recommendations that generally, but not always, follow well from the study’s evidence.

CRPE is an organization that often advocates for charter schools, and the report’s discussion of findings, as well as comments about the report from national charter school leaders, suggests that rather than acting to improve online charter schools, the charter school establishment would prefer to separate online charter schools from brick-and-mortar charter schools and govern them with a separate policy framework. While it is true that online charter schools were not envisioned in the charter school laws passed in the 1990s, Miron notes that, similarly, private education management organizations (EMOs) were not envisioned in charter school legislation. Yet today they play a dominant role and undermine the charter school ideal that assumed that charter schools would be autonomous and locally run public schools.

Miron cautions that online charter issues are not completely distinct from issues that arise from other charters. Yet he also cautions against the largely negative findings being seized on by groups that are broadly critical of charter schools, since many of those findings are indeed unique to online charters.

“Overall,” Professor Miron concludes, “the detailed analyses of policy environments and the summary of problems in the online charter school sector included in this report should be useful to policymakers who are willing and able to pursue more restrictive oversight and increased accountability for online charter schools.”

Find Professor Miron’s review at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-online-charters

Find The Policy Framework for Online Charter Schools, by Rosa Pazhouh, Robin Lake, & Larry Miller, published by the Center for Reinventing Public Education, at:
http://www.crpe.org/sites/default/files/crpe-policy-framework-online-charter-schools-final_0.pdf

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) Think Twice Think Tank Review Project (http://thinktankreview.org) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice:http://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu


Copyright © 2016 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.

April 12, 2016

AEAR 2016 – Narrative Analysis of Students’ and Teachers’ Reflections on Technology-Enhanced Blended Instruction

As I mentioned in the entry entitled AERA 2016 and K-12 Online Learning, the 2016 annual meeting of the American Education Research Association is occurring in Washington, DC over the next few days.  That means that I will be blogging many of the sessions throughout the week.  The sixteenth session (and the final one for the conference) that I am blogging is:

Narrative Analysis of Students’ and Teachers’ Reflections on Technology-Enhanced Blended Instruction

  • In Event: Roundtable Session 55
    In Roundtable Session: Teachers’ Perspectives on Technology Integration

12:25 to 1:55pm, Convention Center, Level Three, Ballroom B

Abstract

A qualitative narrative inquiry was conducted to examine student cognitive and affective factors that are impacted by implementing a technology-mediated blended learning instructional approach. By analyzing the narratives of six teachers and six students, six major themes emerged from the data: (a) being challenged, (b) effective student collaboration, (c) incorporating multi-disciplinary opportunities, (d) streamlining an effective classroom, (e) streamlining individual success, and (f) utilizing resources. The data indicated that both engagement and achievement can increase when instruction is relevant and authentic, and students are empowered to take responsibility for multiple aspects of their learning.

Authors

  • Frank LaBanca, National Center for Inquiry Learning
  • Sara Doble, Wilton High School

Unfortunately, I have had to leave the conference a day early and I am missing these sessions on the final day.  So if anyone in attendance is able to post notes from the session in the comments below, I’d welcome it.

AERA 2016 – Defining Differentiation in Cyber Schools: What Online Teachers Say

As I mentioned in the entry entitled AERA 2016 and K-12 Online Learning, the 2016 annual meeting of the American Education Research Association is occurring in Washington, DC over the next few days.  That means that I will be blogging many of the sessions throughout the week.  The fifteenth session that I am blogging is:

Defining Differentiation in Cyber Schools: What Online Teachers Say

  • In Event: Roundtable Session 55
    In Roundtable Session: Teachers’ Perspectives on Technology Integration

12:25 to 1:55pm, Convention Center, Level Three, Ballroom B

Abstract

In an effort to understand how online teachers meet the needs of diverse learners, researchers surveyed teachers in two cyber schools. 118 participants were surveyed focusing on how differentiation is seen in their practice. Grounded theory qualitative analysis of the survey data revealed that online teachers defined differentiation from two distinct perspectives: a) why a student needs differentiation, and b) what a student needs differentiated. Online teachers noted learning styles as the primary reason for differentiation. Online teachers also cited when they differentiate, they adjust content, product, and process. Finally, noticeably absent from the data were references to using assessments in the classroom to inform differentiation. Future research and implications are discussed.

Authors

  • Jennifer Beasley, University of Arkansas
  • Dennis Beck, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville

Unfortunately, I have had to leave the conference a day early and I am missing these sessions on the final day.  So if anyone in attendance is able to post notes from the session in the comments below, I’d welcome it.

AEAR 2016 – Transforming Algebra 1: A Study of a Blended Learning Pilot Program in Rural Tennessee

As I mentioned in the entry entitled AERA 2016 and K-12 Online Learning, the 2016 annual meeting of the American Education Research Association is occurring in Washington, DC over the next few days.  That means that I will be blogging many of the sessions throughout the week.  The fourteenth session that I am blogging is:

Transforming Algebra 1: A Study of a Blended Learning Pilot Program in Rural Tennessee

  • In Event: Roundtable Session 52
    In Roundtable Session: Students’ Understanding of Functions and Algebra

10:35am to 12:05pm, Convention Center, Level Three, Ballroom A

Abstract

This study examines the first-year implementation of a blended learning Algebra 1 pilot program in rural Tennessee. It describes teachers’ perceptions of and experiences with adopting blended learning as pedagogy and students’ engagement, motivation, and preference on course format. Teacher interviews, surveys, and classroom observations revealed within-school differences in implementation. Student survey results indicated no differences between students in the blended learning classrooms and traditional classrooms with regard to engagement and motivation, but students in pilot classrooms showed a preference for blended learning and greater expectations for taking higher level math courses.

Authors

  • Brittany C Cunningham, Insight Policy Research, Inc.
  • Laura M. Holian
  • Nicole Huret, Insight Policy Research, Inc.
  • Meg Trucano, Insight Policy Research, Inc.

Unfortunately, I have had to leave the conference a day early and I am missing these sessions on the final day.  So if anyone in attendance is able to post notes from the session in the comments below, I’d welcome it.

AERA 2016 – How Collaborative Leadership Facilitates Student Learning in Blended, Self-Paced Mathematics Classrooms

As I mentioned in the entry entitled AERA 2016 and K-12 Online Learning, the 2016 annual meeting of the American Education Research Association is occurring in Washington, DC over the next few days.  That means that I will be blogging many of the sessions throughout the week.  The thirteenth session that I am blogging is:

How Collaborative Leadership Facilitates Student Learning in Blended, Self-Paced Mathematics Classrooms

  • In Event: Technology and Learning in Educational Leadership

10:35am to 12:05pm, Convention Center, Level One, Room 141

Abstract

This study examines the implementation of a self-paced, blended learning mathematics instructional program at a rural middle school in a Midwestern state in the United States. The program involves two school administrators and three middle school mathematics teachers in grades five and six. This study has three main research questions: (1) as a team, how do the principals and teachers facilitate students’ engagement in online learning activities, (2) how are teachers using self-paced, blended online learning to assess student learning and engagement, and (3) what improved student learning outcomes are a result of blended learning implementation? This paper will report on how the principals and teachers facilitated improved learning outcomes for students who are participating in the self-paced blended learning model.

Authors

  • Douglas M. Wieczorek, Iowa State University
  • Manuel Del Real, Iowa State University

Unfortunately, I have had to leave the conference a day early and I am missing these sessions on the final day.  So if anyone in attendance is able to post notes from the session in the comments below, I’d welcome it.

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