Tuesday, April 1, 2014

N.C. moving toward online charter schools

The state Board of Education will get a report Wednesday on virtual charter schools, a venture other states have tried with mixed results.

The report suggests that the state legislature clarify rules for charter schools that have no physical location,  and that the state consider starting with a pilot authorizing about three virtual charter schools.  It also suggests a different funding formula than that used for most charter schools. While counties are required to pass along per-pupil funding for those schools,  the report suggests making it optional for online charters.

State education officials,  Public Impact consulting firm and advisers from charter schools, districts,  higher education and homeschoolers crafted the plan,  which will go to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee if the state board approves it.

Virtual education is hardly a new concept,  as the report notes.  The state has already created its own Virtual Public School,  and several districts,  including Charlotte-Mecklenburg,  Iredell-Statesville and Union County,  also offer their own online courses.

"This trend is quickly growing across the state, even attracting homeschoolers in some districts and being used for dropout recovery in others. These locally based digital academies are largely using a
blended model, which provides education both virtually and in-person,"  the report says.

The question is whether North Carolina can ensure quality,  which has been a challenge in states that moved more quickly to let other providers offer online education at public expense.

Providers are eager to jump in.  Connections Academy,  a Baltimore-based virtual school company that is part of Pearson,  is holding meetings around North Carolina this month to drum up support for an eventual online charter program for grades 6-12.


Anonymous said...

I can fathom a blended school, but not 100% on-line. Although the idea seems enticing, innovative and progressive, it will be a failure for the students. Students need the human contact and the human accountability. But hey, sounds like a great money maker for Pearson.

Anonymous said...

Hey, making money for the private sector is the goal here. Always has been. Don't get caught up in the education aspects of it all. That is not what is important.

Anonymous said...

The state already offers all classes online. Have we got that political that now some will say I'd rather have my kid in a charter online than a public online? How comical. As a teacher, I can tell you the state virtual online classes have teachers who monitor and counsel with very specific guidelines. Btw, parents.I taught a kid last year who was home schooled until high school. He said 90 percent of online students cheat. I asked if he would consider letting his future kids do online. The answer was absolutely not....

Larry said...

Only buy your cars from the big dealerships, they will never cheat you.

Never use the small banks as they will close and you will never get your money.

Only believe the observer because they are fair and balanced.

Only let your kids be taught by no one other than government sponsored employees or they will fail in life.

Just a few things to keep in mind.

Shamash said...

Anon 1:32pm.

One solution to the cheating problem is to make the classes online, BUT NOT THE TESTS (or at least don't test from a remote, unmonitored location).

That may require someone to show up at a specific location at a specific time to be monitored, but that is the way "professional" tests are done via computer by companies like Prometric.

It's also the way tests like the SAT and ACT are administered.

And it's NOT like we don't also have cheating on tests for bricks and mortar schools.

Take Atlanta for example.

They had teachers erasing wrong answers and putting in correct ones for the students.

I'd trust Prometrics test monitoring over that gang of thieves any day.

That way, if the kids cheat on their online homework or classwork, at least the tests will catch them red handed.

Shamash said...

Good news y'all...

We're officially "above average" in problem solving.

According to those horrible PISA tests.


Of course, there are the usual "excuses"...

"Educators may be surprised to see that the results of the new study again list 'the usual suspects,' Singapore, Korea, and Japan, ahead of everyone else, even though we know from a wealth of sociological and anthropological studies that the culture in these countries rewards conformity above all,"

Yessiree, folks.


Everyone knows Asians aren't creative and good at solving problems.

Only Americans can do that sort of stuff.

Everyone else is a conformist and just copies our success.

And certainly those tests are rigged because everyone knows the Asians lock their dummies in a closet when they take those PISA tests.


We REALLY think that way, don't we?

(And to think I own TWO "Jap Crap" cars made by Toyota)

Shamash said...

Anon 1:32pm.

"The state already offers all classes online."

Isn't that only for high school?

Other states have online classes for elementary school, too.

Anonymous said...

1:32 here. As far as I know all online classes in nc are high school. I know that kids who take online classes in cms at a high school are monitored on tests. At least they are suppossed to. Really easy to cheat. A tricky kid could cheat his way through with little trouble.

Anonymous said...

on line classes will be a disaster for our students.

Anonymous said...

On line classes in both public and private schools were a failure in CA (Oakland area). The on line students performed worse than those who attended class on a traditional campus, the program has been halted for this school year.

Why should this be a surprise to anyone?

Shamash said...

Anon 1:32, 9:47.

Well, if the kids are cheating during a proctored exam, then isn't it the adults (presumably the monitors are adults) who are at fault here?

What makes this any different from an adult teacher allowing cheating?

Anyway, I think there is a solution to the cheating because I know businesses use companies like Prometric to monitor online testing for various types of certification classes.

I've read about all the high-tech cheating going on today, so that is another reason to keep tech-toys out of the classroom, especially during tests.

Today, even "calculators" are suspect.

Again, I don't think this problem is peculiar to online classes or online tests.

Video-based "remote" classes have been in use since the 1970s.

My first job training in IT during the late 1970's was taught using videocassettes made by Deltak. I spent several months at a training center by myself viewing tapes and reading manuals with little "live" instruction.

Of course, there was no "cheating" because there were no tests.

Just my job on the line if I "failed" to learn.

Computers are just another delivery medium for the same type of material, with the advantages of interactivity and such that wasn't available before.

They are not going away in schools or the workplace, so we might as well learn how to use them properly for instruction.

Unlike school, there will be NO "opt out" for "testing" in the workplace.

And cheating will likely get you fired.

What better time to learn a little self-control than during school, which is often seen as a preparation for "real life".

Anonymous said...

Most of the cheating scandals in public edcuation involved cash incentives, Washington Dc was another example, under the leadership of Michelle Rhee.

I would also agree with a previous post, online charters and homeschooled children should be required to take exams and tests with a certified proctor.
Also, as a side note, my local state senator, Fletcher Hartsell represents one of these virtual online schools.

Shamash said...

Also, another thing to consider is that online school can be used as a supplement to brick-and-mortar schools or home-schooling.

I went to a rural HS during my last few years of HS and could have used a half-decent instructor in Math and Science, even if online.

The teachers I had were wholly inadequate for anything other than PE, English and History.

Math and Science were just too difficult for them to understand, much less teach.

We didn't even have Music, Art, or Foreign Language instruction at that time.

I co-taught a Trigonometry class with my HS teacher in a small class because I had taken a Trig class in College one summer and was on top of it more than my Math teacher.

I suspect that this still happens in many high schools in remote areas.

I think the Virtual HS is a good idea and am glad to see that.

As for the "advantages" of a "charter" vs "public" (even though charters are public...) I don't see why it would matter much unless the more established online schools used by charters are more cost-effective or provide better tracking of results.

That online model is one in which economies of scale may be different from brick-and-mortar schools.

Instead of each state or school district re-inventing the wheel on all the back-office tools needed for the online schools.

Anonymous said...

hasn't education become such a diverse and interesting topic in this country? We have private schools, charter schools, public schools, home schooling and now it appears a 4th option, online charters.

I wonder if we were to look at the most successful school systems in the world, what do you think we would see?

Anonymous said...

Does everyone know that Pearson is the same as Powerschool, that has been a mess since its inception?

Shamash said...

PowerSchool works fine in South Carolina.

I wouldn't be so quick to blame Pearson.

Shamash said...

Anon 8:36am.

"hasn't education become such a diverse and interesting topic in this country? "

I can tell you what you'd see in Hong Kong (and Singapore).

Of course, they use different names for the schools (not charters, etc.), but it's basically the same mixture of options and a even wider variety of government support (or non-support).

They have pretty much everything you see here except home schooling because it's technically illegal.

But about 50 families do it anyway.

One even has government permission (or at least government looking the other way).

One thing they AREN'T afraid to do in Hong Kong, though, is sort people in public schools according to abilities.

Singapore is similar but without the harsh restrictions on homeschooling.

In Hong Kong, though, you'll need to use Cantonese in the free government schools, while Singapore uses English.

Basically you will find schools following American, Canadian, French, Australian, British, and many other "standards" with various levels of government support for tuition from no support to full support.

They both make our system look simple.

Most foreigners in Singapore and Hong Kong end up paying through the nose for private (or partially subsidized) schooling.

It ain't simple over there. Trust me. Or do your own research.

Anonymous said...

When Anne mentioned the online charter school concept has seen mixed results, she was being extremely polite. Do any of you know what the graduation rate is for virtual online charter schools? It's less than half of the brick and mortar schools, it's 37.6%, and here is another interesting fact, 75% of the kids who opt for this are white, only 11% are black. Across the country, only 29.7% of online charter schools are meeting Adequate Yearly Progess. Can someone please explain to me why our state is considering this option. Perhaps I should ask my State Senator, Flether Hartsell, he is a strong proponent since he repesresents one.

Shamash said...

Anon 8:12am wrote:

"Most of the cheating scandals in public edcuation involved cash incentives, Washington Dc was another example, under the leadership of Michelle Rhee."

Well, I wonder how many of the cheating scandals also involved "at risk" schools?

It seems to me that those are the ones which usually get offered those "cash incentives".

I know the demographics of the Atlanta school cheating scandal was tilted strongly in that direction.

What about the others?

Washington, DC? (

I can only imagine why there would be corruption there...)

Maybe there is a lesson to be learned about offering all these cash incentives for educating the "at risk" crowd.

It seems to be a popular trend lately.

And maybe more than the students are "at risk".

Remember, "it's all for the kids".