Magazine article USA TODAY

Online Charter Schools Not Making the Grade

Magazine article USA TODAY

Online Charter Schools Not Making the Grade

Article excerpt

Despite the dramatic growth in enrollment In online charter schools, students simply are not achieving the same academic success as those in brick-and-mortar charter and public schools, finds a study by RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, Calif., and New York University's School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

"Our research suggests that online schools--in their current form, a largely independent learning experience--are not effective for K-12 learners. Instead, learners still need the presence of teachers, mentors, or peers to help them through the learning process," says study author June Ahn, associate professor of learning sciences and educational technology.

A variety of providers can operate online charter schools, including school districts, nonprofits, and private for-profit companies. These K12 schools deliver most or all education online and lack a brick-and-mortar presence.

Advocates of online schools argue that new technologies used in online learning have the potential to expand the courses available to students and provide flexibility in location and scheduling.

In addition, research shows that certain factors can influence how families choose schools. If information is challenging to acquire--whether it has a cost, is in a language not spoken by the family, or is too complex--low-income families often base decisions on easy-to-access information. …

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