Virtual School Meanderings

July 29, 2017

Virtual Schooling In The News

InTheNewsBeginning with the Connected Educator SmartBrief.

Colo. releases guide to boost blended learning

More Colorado schools could introduce blended learning following guidance released by the state-supported organization Colorado Empowered Learning. Rural areas are among the intended beneficiaries.
Chalkbeat/Colorado (7/24)

How colleges can better serve online students

Interaction with instructors and classmates is a priority for more than half of prospective, current and recently graduated students taking classes exclusively online, according to a survey. Researchers recommend schools provide quick responses to students and find ways to better integrate mobile technology.
eCampus News (free registration) (7/21)

Back to the regular Google News alert for virtual school.

Number of school choice participants increases again in Worcester

Fellow committee member Brian O’Connell, meanwhile, wondered whether the district should explore offering its own virtual school program, after …

Belchertown’s Meghan Bernard to play tennis at UMass

Connections is a public virtual school, allowing her to structure her day around becoming a better tennis player as she spent hours everyday at the …

Around San Ramon: Teen on Hong Kong figure skating team, UCLA-bound

Chau admits she was worried about missing friends and classmates and talking to teachers when she opted for the virtual school, but she had many …

“It Gave Us a Choice When We Didn’t Have One”: Private School Choice Participants Flood Capitol …

… Sam’s needs, so Myers, with the help of a special education teacher from the virtual school Sam attended, started one and ran it until last month.

Charter, virtual schools could expand statewide under Senate GOP budget

The number of independent charter and private virtual schools in Wisconsin could expand under the new state budget put forward by Senate …

Changes made to DCS virtual school program benefit students

DOTHAN, Al. (WTVY) Dothan City School’s offered students access to virtual school for the first time last year. Now it’s making changes to hopefully …

Researchers Push Back As Betsy DeVos, ALEC Advance Virtual School Expansion

The expansion of virtual schools has been one of the group’s primary goals for education. Their work has already been picked up at the state level: …

Online education programs offer virtual school alternatives

“Virtual school is the wave of the future,” Limestone County Executive Director of HR and Operations Tommy Hunter said. “This is for students who …

Number of school choice participants increases again in Worcester

Another 61 students were enrolled in the state’s two public virtual schools, the Massachusetts Virtual Academy at Greenfield and the TEC Connections …

Hundreds of Missouri students flock to rural school district’s free online summer school

All the students are taking the classes tuition-free, thanks to state funding that has helped the district beef up its summer virtual class offerings.

5 Things You Can Do Now to Get Your Kids Ready for School

Laura Shearer, School Counselor at PA Virtual Charter School, provided us with some tips so you can hit the ground running once the school year …

Around San Ramon: Teen on Hong Kong figure skating team, UCLA-bound

She instead opted to balance her academic studies with perfecting her axel jumps by attending a virtual high school, California Connections Academy …

Editorial: Francis Marion woes demand major changes

That led to the discovery that the students had earned multiple credits for classes called Research I and Research II through Florida Virtual School, …

Charter school commission wants budget details from group focused on inmates

The Athens system has served jailed students through its virtual school, but Holladay said that’s not going to be able to continue because educators …

Results of Parent Survey Show Why K-12 Students Attend Full Time Online School

ORCA is the state’s leading tuition-free virtual school which served over 4,000 students in grades K-12 across Oregon last school year. The annual …

LPS will consider what next high school should look like

Maybe the next high school should be a virtual school, or the district should explore more online education. They could expand focus programs, …

Learn details of the Global virtual schools market report for 2017

… online, or online homework systems, but a fully online school (virtual school or cyber-school) teaches entirely or primarily through online methods.

Parents weigh in over school catchment plan

… moved from the school to a more central location to ensure that all residencies would be within a 0.6 mile radius of the nearest Virtual School Point.

Your guide to the 2017-2018 Henry County school year

… elementary schools from 5-7 p.m. The open house event for Impact Academy, Henry County’s virtual school, is Wednesday, July 26 from 2-7:30 p.m..

Enrollment Open for Students Worldwide at International Connections Academy

Virtual school appeals to all types of students, and families are choosing online learning for a variety of reasons. According to the 2017 Parent …

District wrestles with math teacher shortage

“I feel like it’s better to go to Florida Virtual School than the effect of hiring a long-term substitute,” Moses told the school board at its workshop Monday …

Banco Bradesco 1S17 Results

Fundaçao also expects to benefit 630 thousand students via distance learning (EaD), through its e- Learning portal “Escola Virtual” (Virtual School), …

Research details developments in the virtual schools market

A virtual school operates on an online learning platform and offers courses pertaining to various fields entirely through digital methodologies.

Former Frederick High student earns second chance with summer graduation

Anderson, a graduate of the Frederick County Public Schools Virtual School, saw graduating, as nontraditional as the path may have been, as an …

Council gives £270k of free money back to government after failing to spend it on vulnerable children

The virtual school is a service which monitors children in care and provides extra academic or emotional support services to pupils who need it.

Florida Schools to See Slight Bump in Enrollment

… million next fall, an increase of 26,764 full-time students in the 67 school districts and the Florida Virtual School, according to Thursday’s forecast.

Borough’s first children in care awards showcased ‘incredible achievements’

Event organiser Anita Stewart, assistant head of Havering Virtual School and co-hosts care leavers Olivia Freeman and Daniel Ajiboye. Picture: Mark …

Finally, the Google News alert for cyber school.

Scranton launches cyber academy

When a student goes to a cyber school, the district pays between $10,000 and $20,000. “Going our route gives you an Old Forge diploma,” Rushefski …

The UK government’s £20million Cyber School Programme

The UK government is to a launch a £20million Cyber School Programme, with the aim to train 6,000 14-18 year olds by 2021.

Scranton launches cyber academy

The Scranton School District Cyber Academy will allow students to earn a … School officials started contacting families of 210 cyber charter school …

The UK government’s £20million Cyber School Programme

The UK government is to a launch a £20million Cyber School Programme, with the aim to train 6,000 14-18 year olds by 2021.

Pa. lawmakers caving on cyber charter reform | Guest column

Easily the worst part of the Pennsylvania charter school embarrassment has to do with cyber charter schools, which have shown deplorable results in …

Senators protect charter schools at expense of local districts

In Franklin County, taxpayers spend more than $6.6 million on cyber charter school tuition bills every year. Under PA law, school districts (i.e., local …

Cyber charter expands presence in Western PA

Nancy Wagner, who previously worked for ten years with Agora Cyber Charter School as a teacher, administrator and truancy prevention coordinator, …

Learn details of the Global virtual schools market report for 2017

… online, or online homework systems, but a fully online school (virtual school or cyber-school) teaches entirely or primarily through online methods.

More kids are logging on to learn at cyber schools

Jakob Pandolph, 9, attends the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, one of the largest online public schools in the country. – Amy Scott/Marketplace.


July 25, 2017

Education Week: Teachers’ Union to Take a Critical Look at Online Credit Recovery Programs

This came through my RSS reader a few days ago.  Maybe the NEA will be smart enough not to conduct another media comparison study!

Teachers’ Union to Take a Critical Look at Online Credit Recovery Programs


The nation’s largest teacher’s union is going to take a look at the troubled world of online credit recovery.

The “new business item” was approved at the recent convention of the 3-million member National Education Association. It calls for $31,000 to be spent on a review of “existing research, data, and information about Online Credit Recovery Programs (OCRP) that were recently being used in various school districts across the nation.”

The item was overshadowed by the union’s higher-profile actions and statements (such as the adoption of a new charter-school policy, and the suggestion that U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos consider resigning.)

To continue reading, click here.

July 23, 2017

EBSCO Alerts

ebscoFirst, the alert for virtual school.

1. TI- The roles of learning strategies and motivation in online language learning: A structural equation modeling analysis.
AU- Lin, Chin-Hsi1
AU- Zhang, Yining1
AU- Zheng, Binbin1
JN- Computers & Education
PD- Oct2017, Vol. 113, p75-85
PG- 11p
DT- 20171001
PT- Article
AB- Students’ active regulation of learning, through being motivated and a variety of cognitive and metacognitive strategies, is crucial to their online learning success. Despite the large numbers enrolled in online language courses, very little is known about students’ motivation and strategy use in these learning environments, or how they may affect their online learning outcomes. This study helps fill this gap by examining students’ motivation and learning-strategy use across a number of online language courses, and investigating the role of motivation and such strategies within the framework of self-regulated learning. Based on data about online language-learning strategies collected from 466 high-school-level online language students in a Midwestern virtual school, our findings indicated that online learning strategies operated at a moderate level in the process of foreign language-learning. Further analysis using structural equation modeling revealed that the use of online learning strategies predicted students’ online learning outcomes. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
AB- Copyright of Computers & Education is the property of Pergamon Press – An Imprint of Elsevier Science and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder’s express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)
KW- Language learning
KW- Learning strategies
KW- Motivation
KW- Online learning
KW- Self-regulated learning
KW- Virtual school
AD- 1Michigan State University, 620 Farm Lane, East Lansing, MI 48824, United States
IS- 03601315
DI- 10.1016/j.compedu.2017.05.014
AN- 124047071

Next, I received the alert for cyber school, but there were no relevant items.

Finally, once again I did not receive the alert for K-12 online learning.

July 22, 2017

Virtual Schooling In The News

InTheNewsBeginning with the Connector Educator SmartBrief.

What are the top online learning trends?

Videos, gamification and two-way communication will be some of the biggest trends in online education during the 2017-18 school year, according to research conducted by ProProfs. Other trends include a surge in bring-your-own-device policies as well as an increased use in social media tools, the study found.
eCampus News (free registration) (7/17)

Next, the semi-regular SmartBrief for EdTech.

Study considers online learning for makeup courses

Study considers online learning for makeup courses

The nonprofit American Institutes for Research will study whether online courses are more effective in helping students in the Los Angeles Unified School District makeup courses, as opposed to traditional in-person instruction. Students participating in the study will be sophomores who have failed either Algebra 1 or ninth-grade English.
The San Diego Union-Tribune (tiered subscription model) (7/15)


Report examines ways to scale digital learning

Report examines ways to scale digital learning

Researchers at the Arizona State University’s EdPlus Action Lab are completing a study focused on scaling digital learning. The report examines the economic and operational efficiencies of different schools that have successfully scaled their online-learning programs and how those practices can be implemented at other institutions, according to Lou Pugliese, a senior innovation fellow at the university.
Campus Technology (7/19)


Back to the regular Google News alert for virtual school.

Virtual school to host info sessions in Northwest Arkansas

NWA Democrat-Gazette/J.T. WAMPLER Elementary school teacher Stephanie Cowan works Nov. 17 at the Bentonville-based Arkansas Connections …

Robertson Schools announce district-wide open house schedule

Robertson County Schools has released the dates and times for all of this year’s open houses. Schools are listed by date below.

Online school to host information session

… online information sessions. For a full list of online information sessions, visit

Family, friends grieving after former Forsyth Central student killed in north Forsyth crash

Robertson attended Forsyth Central High School from 2013 through 2016, after which he withdrew to attend Georgia Virtual School, according to …

Public statewide virtual school launches through Limestone County Schools

LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. – Parents, this fall you have a new, tuition-free option for educating your little ones. Nationally-accredited Connections …

Virtual school to host info sessions in Northwest Arkansas

NWA Democrat-Gazette/J.T. WAMPLER Elementary school teacher Stephanie Cowan works Nov. 17 at the Bentonville-based Arkansas Connections …

Virtual School Helps Parents Plan at Home Time

Virtual School Helps Parents Plan at Home Time … Back-to-school sales have already begun, and that’s a great time to buy a laptop. Some 15-inch …

Virtual School Holds Info Session for Parents

The session will show parents how they can provide an effective school environment and how to balance time. Parents will also learn about activities …

Virtual school to host info sessions in Northwest Arkansas

Arkansas Connections Academy will hold four information sessions this month for families interested in theschool. The virtual public charter school is …

A schoolteacher defends her virtual classroom: Letters

I am still in my first year of teaching a math course for Florida Virtual School, and I believe that associate professor of political science Michael …

New private school gives middle-schoolers a non-traditional option

The Pioneer School will offer a hybrid model of instruction, with students in grades 6 to 8 taking online classes through the Florida Virtual School, …

VIRTUAL ED: Principal explains benefits, challenges of online learning

Dean looks forward to the start of a new school year, but conceded virtual schools aren’t without challenges. She explained Alabama has plenty of …

Newest Mena classrooms could be virtual

The school’s classrooms would be hosted online, real teachers would … The proposed school, Polk County Virtual Academy, would open for the …

‘Lost in the Cracks’ Alabama District Brings Personalized Learning to Incarcerated Youth

However, one school district hopes a personalized virtual school program … For students attending the school virtually, all lessons and activities are …

Researchers Push Back As Betsy DeVos, ALEC Advance Virtual SchoolExpansion

Their work has already been picked up at the state level: Representatives from Tennessee to Alabama have introduced ALEC-backed virtual school …

Online education programs offer virtual school alternatives

“Virtual school is the wave of the future,” Limestone County Executive Director of HR and Operations Tommy Hunter said. “This is for students who …

Hundreds of Missouri students flock to rural school district’s free online summer school

… administered by the district, during the school year. “We think there is a need for a year-round virtual school program in the state of Missouri,” Brown …

Changes made to DCS virtual school program benefit students

DOTHAN, Al. (WTVY) Dothan City School’s offered students access to virtual school for the first time last year. Now it’s making changes to hopefully …

Charter, virtual schools could expand statewide under Senate GOP budget

Students at Milwaukee’s Academy of Excellence charter school attend a rally for supporters of Wisconsin’s School Choice program at La Casa de …

Editorial: Francis Marion woes demand major changes

That led to the discovery that the students had earned multiple credits for classes called Research I and Research II through Florida Virtual School, …

Notes from the news – July 19

Researchers Push Back As Betsy DeVos, ALEC Advance Virtual School Expansion. EdSurge. Schools collect more data, but how is it used?

5 Things You Can Do Now to Get Your Kids Ready for School

“Whether your child goes to a brick and mortar or virtual school, your child is going to need a space to do school work. Create a distraction-free …

CCHS announces back-to-school schedule | News | The Press and Standard

Registration for S.C. Virtual School Online Classes: Registration for online classes is Wednesday Aug. 16-Friday Sept. 1 for 11th and 12th graders and …

Reading is fundamental to American liberty

Today, parents, teachers, and tutors stress the importance of literacy to public, private, home, and virtual school students. Reading is not only still …

Brevard Schools names principal, assistant principal of the year

2014: Michael Miller, then principal of Saturn Elementary & Heather Price, then assistant principal of Brevard Virtual School.

Remarkable achievements of Norfolk’s children in care celebrated at ceremony

The event was organised by the Virtual School for Children in Care, which is part of Children’s Services Education Achievement Service, and saw …

Flagler’s Elementary Schools Will Accommodate New Requirement of 20 Minutes of Recess Per Day

The 100-minute requirement applies to traditional public schools, not to charter schools or to private schools. Full-time virtual school students are also …

Windermere resident revisits life-long career in film industry

… who keeps up with her father by attending Florida Virtual School, reminds him of all the big-name musicians and actors they’ve met during his work.

Positive People in Pinecrest

He used the Rosetta Stone program and classes through the Florida Virtual School to learn the language. He is practicing his language skills as a …

Finally, the Google News alert for cyber school.

Insight Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School to Serve Students Statewide

A new tuition-free, full-time online public school, Insight Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (ISPA), is now enrolling students from across the state for …

LETTER: Cyber schools can be new ‘disruptors’ to improve education

Charter schools and cyber charter schools are indeed such disrupting forces. Charter schools are more nimble than traditional public schools, and can …

Pennsylvania Charter Schools

As was the case in 2012-13 and 2013-14, charter schools, particularly cyber charter schools, still performed academically worse than other traditional …

Nearly 1000 Erie students not vaccinated

More than 1,000 Erie School District students — about one in every 11 … public, parochial or private schools, and those attending a cyber school.

Senators protect charter schools at expense of local districts

He stated that the new formula to calculate cyber school tuition rates, “shouldn’t have been in there in the first place.” During the late-night session in …

July 17, 2017

EDTECH537 – Commentary Entry: The Problem With the Media Coverage of K-12 Online Learning

As I mentioned in the Week 4 entry for my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course earlier this morning, I wanted to post a sample of a commentary entry.

For a while now, I have been bothered by the way that the media has taken to reporting on issues of importance – a balanced approach.  For whatever reason, in the past decade or so, journalists have taken to whatever issue they were covering by attempting to present a balanced position of the issue – regardless of whether the issue was actually balanced or not.  We’ve seen some folks that watch the media talk about this in recent month (see here and here), often using climate change as one of the main example (e.g., 97% of scientist agree on one position, but the other 3% get half of the airtime in every single piece).  This is not new – for example, check out this academic paper from 2007 that outlines the nature of climate change media coverage.

As someone who is regularly interviewed by the media for news items related to K-12 distance, online, and/or blended learning, I often read the articles that eventually appear with my quote(s) in them with interest to see how the journalist presented the issue.  And I am always struck by the pattern that emerges…  Basically, the regular format is that you have some expert – like myself – that talks about the unrealized potential, and the fact that the research shows that these programs often do incredibly poorly compared to the traditional brick-and-mortar learning.  You often have some legislator or policy person or traditional brick-and-mortar personnel that is advising caution, maybe even complaining to some extent about the situation – but never to the level that is being called for by the academic.  Countering these positions, you have some combination of an online school official (or someone connected with the online program), a parent of an online student, and/or an online student themselves.  Invariably these three individuals are lauding the online program as being some kind of saviour for them and students like them.  The fact that they are the exception to the rule, the one student that does succeed when the other nine fail, is never mentioned and is seemingly irrelevant.  What the reader is left with is the impression that these online schools/programs can be great things, and it is only those egghead academics and other, traditional school folks that want to continue to shackle the children to their desks in some kind of failed system.

I got the bee in my bonnet about this issue after reading the piece below.  Note that I have colour-coded the format above, and I use those colours to help illustrate my point below.

States Struggle With Oversight of Online Charter Schools

As enrollment in online charter schools explodes, states are struggling to keep up and to put in place regulations ensuring students get a real education and cyber schools get the right amount of funding.

May 26, 2017, at 5:01 p.m.

Celiah Aker poses at her desk at home

Celiah Aker poses at her desk at home, Monday, Feb. 6, 2017, in Medina, Ohio. Aker is in ninth grade and it is her fifth year at Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) , an online school. As enrollment in online charter schools exploded in recent years, states have struggled to catch up with oversight to ensure that the students taking classes at home via computers get a real education and the “cyber schools” receive the proper amount of public funding. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — As U.S. children flock to virtual charter schools, states are struggling to catch up and develop rules to make sure the students get a real education and schools get the right funding.

The future of virtual schools is part of the larger school-choice debate seeing renewed attention since the installation of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, an online charter investor and advocate who sees them as a valuable option for students.

While some perform well, the sector has been plagued by accounts of low standards, mismanagement, and inflated participation counts at schools that are reimbursed based on the number of enrolled students. Ohio’s largest online charter school, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, this month lost the latest round of its battle over $60 million the state says is owed for enrollment that cannot be justified.

Findings of underperformance at e-schools have been so prevalent that even supporters have called for policymakers to intervene.

“There’s overwhelming consensus that these schools are performing terribly poor and yet, you know, nothing’s happening,” said Gary Miron, a Western Michigan University professor who researches online charters for the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado and believes such schools can work, but not under the current model.

Nationwide, enrollment in virtual schools has tripled over the past decade, and some 278,000 students as young as kindergarteners were enrolled in 58 full-time online schools across 34 states for the 2015-16 school year, according to data from the policy center. Other groups’ estimates put virtual enrollment even higher. Half the virtual schools are charters and the rest are district-run, but charters have most of the students.

The schools’ supporters say they fill a gap by meeting the needs of nontraditional students — those with challenging schedules, severe health issues, troubles with focus or bullying, or who are working or traveling or parenting children of their own.

Ninth-grader Celiah Aker, 14, is an honors student who has attended the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow since the fifth grade.

“I wanted the flexibility to do other things, instead of just school,” Aker said. “I have a lot of friends who are in regular public school, and they always get bombarded with so many hours of homework. I get to hang with my family and go to sports events and go and do my dance classes.”

Nowhere have regulators’ struggles been on display more than Ohio, which ranks among the states with the most students enrolled in virtual charters. The state had broader charter-school rules but didn’t outline many specific e-school standards or enrollment limits for them until more than a decade after ECOT opened.

Now the school is locked in a protracted legal battle with the state over how it tracks students’ hours, a dispute that traces to before the state had any online charter regulations on the books. A hearing officer recently recommended the state education board take action to collect millions from the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow due to undocumented enrollment.

Jeremy Aker, Celiah’s dad, said implications that ECOT students are chronically absent and the school is undeserving of state assistance are discouraging for his daughter.

“You were a 4.0 student during the 2015-2016 school year, in the National Honor Society, and because you didn’t sit logged into a screen for 5 hours a day, we’re actually going to call you truant and we want our money back,” he said.

Finding the balance has also tripped up other states.

In Colorado, where an Education Week investigation found only a quarter of the students at one online school were using the software on a typical day, recent Democratic legislative proposals to have the state certify authorizers of cyber schools and study data have fizzled without a full vote.

A lack of uniform attendance tracking also muddied the development of virtual schools in Oklahoma earlier this decade. One charter school, Epic, was referred to state fraud investigators for issues including how it counted students — though nothing came of the review. In 2015, legislators overhauled the law requiring closure of poor-performing charters, instituting a more rigorous application process and stepping up requirements for sponsors. Epic’s performance rankings are now high. Republican Gov. Frank Keating is speaking at Epic’s graduation next month.

States have been slow to respond to red flags, in part because lobbying by for-profit operators and other supporters hampered legislative proposals aimed at improving accountability, Miron said.

DeVos was herself a major donor to those efforts before becoming education secretary. What influence her appointment will have on states’ efforts to regulate charter schools is not yet clear. The department didn’t respond to interview requests.

In Ohio, state records show ECOT founder William Lager has donated about $765,000 to state-level campaigns. Nationwide, charter school owners, operators and advocacy groups have donated almost $89 million to state-level campaigns over the past decade, according to data collected by the nonprofit Institute for Money in State Politics.

A report last summer from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and the nonprofit 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now called for policymakers and school authorizers to intervene to address problems with online charters.

“Left unchecked, these problems have the potential to overshadow the positive impacts this model currently has for some students,” the report said.


Find the reporters on Twitter at and

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

In case you are wondering…

  • 127 words
  • 63 words
  • 264 words, plus a big, sympathetic picture

Basically, the feel good stuff – that has no basis of fact beyond the experience of that one student and that one parent – is being used to prop up an entire industry that has 278,000 students (according to the article itself).  Not only is it used to prop up the industry, but it that content actually gets about 50% more content than the expert that has been looking at the topic for over a decade and the group that is urging some form of caution (and that’s not even counting the picture that accompanies the news item).  For someone who doesn’t know much about the issue, the article does a reasonable job on presenting the facts or details (basically all the stuff I left in black).  But these statements of fact, when contrasted by those individuals in the know (i.e., the expert and the cautionary group vs. the student and parent) it does leave a very different impression.  And it is an incorrect impression.

What the reporter should have done was to include comments from three or four parents and/or students that enrolled in an online program and then felt completely isolated, had no one communicate with them, and eventually dropped out to return to the traditional brick-and-mortar system further behind than what they were to begin with.  Add that to this piece, along with the expert and the cautionary group, then you might have a news item that was truly reflective of the current situation.

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