The problem with online charter schools
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The problem with online charter schools

Okay. so think back to high school. I know this might be painful, but picture your typical daily schedule. 50-minute blocks,
one for each subject: Chemistry, Geometry, English, etc. This is what the school day
has looked like for most students in the United States for about the last hundred
years, but that’s changing. For a small but growing number of students, the
school day looks more like this. Ten minutes working on a math worksheet
then 15 minutes on an English paper, then 20 minutes on Facebook and then a
three-hour shift bagging groceries. That’s because in 32 states and D.C.,
students of all ages don’t actually have to go to a physical school building.
Instead they can attend online charter schools, full time. In their advertisements, these schools promise students and parents autonomy,
flexibility, and peace of mind. If I didn’t have Florida Virtual School I
probably would have been a dropout. I can start and end work when I want to. After
years of bullying and changing schools I could finally learn at my own pace. There’s just one problem with these schools: for the vast majority of
students they don’t work. The share of American students who attend online
charter schools is small. It’s less than 1%, but enrollment has grown fairly
steadily since 2011 and their growth is part of a wider movement in public
education known as “school choice”. It’s the idea that parents should have
options beyond the neighborhood public school. It’s a notion that education
secretary Betsy DeVos has championed for years. The more choices we have, the more
competition we have, but also the better product. Like traditional public schools,
charter schools are funded by a mix of federal, State, and local taxes. But while
taxpayers elect school board members to oversee traditional public schools,
charter schools are different. If a group of people want to start a school, they
sign a contract or a charter with the State. Some charter schools have longer
hours or use a different curriculum. Most have a physical building, but a growing
number don’t. For both types, the state pays the group a set amount for each
student that they enroll. Most of the groups that run online
charter schools are for-profit companies. The largest are k12 Inc. and Connections
Academy. They run 122 online charter schools in 29 states, which enroll more
than half of all online charter students nationwide. They’re both part of publicly
traded companies, which means that some of the tax dollars they get for running
schools go towards paying their shareholders, One of whom used to be Betsy DeVos. Gary Miron is a professor of education.
He studies online charter schools and he crunched the numbers and found that
these companies made: In their ads k12 and other online charter operators tout their
research-based curriculum, but the data show that kids in online charter schools
are falling way behind. One way that researchers measure a school’s success is
to look at students test scores at the beginning and end of a school year and
see how much they’ve grown. In the most comprehensive study to date, researchers
at Stanford University looked at 17 states with online charter schools and
compared their yearly growth to regular public schools and charter schools in
those states, that serve similar populations of kids. They found that attending an online charter school had the equivalent effect of missing 180
days of instruction in math. In most places that’s an entire school year. In
reading, students lost about 72 days compared to their peers in regular
school. There were a few exceptions. Online charters in Georgia and Wisconsin
had significantly better growth scores in reading than regular schools, but
those states only serve a fraction of the country’s online charter students.
The vast majority live in states where attending an online charter school is
statistically equivalent to missing weeks of school. They’re allowing these
companies to operate charter schools, sometimes with more than a hundred
students per teacher. That’s more than six times the national average for
public schools. We reached out to k12 and Connections and both companies disputed the methodology of the Stanford
study. K12 said they changed their curriculum since the study came out in
2015, but a 2016 study of online charters in Ohio, found that students there are
still doing significantly worse than their peers in regular school. So, if these schools get such poor results, why don’t states just shut them down? Online charter companies like k12 and Connections have spent millions on
lobbying and campaign contributions at the state level. Of the 64 online
charters they ran in 2011, all but one were still open in 2016. And 55 new ones
had opened for business. States have the power to hold these companies
accountable they’re just choosing not to. And students are paying the price.

About James Carlton

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100 thoughts on “The problem with online charter schools

  1. Watch our video about which colleges have the biggest positive financial impact on their students' lives:

  2. I went to a branch of K12, located in South Carolina – South Carolina Virtual Charter School. It was horrible. I was lonely, my depression came back in full force, and the schoolwork was deplorable. There was one point where I would work for eleven straight hours every day, leaving me tired. I would pull so many all-nighters it wasn't even funny. I even lost weight from the time I was attending the school. Due to them, I now am repeating the ninth grade. Thanks, K12.

  3. I went to a great public charter school from kindergarten to 11 grade. But, I felt like I was wasting a lot of unnecessary time at school, which is why I switched to another public charter school called Visions in Education. (It's completely free and funded by tax dollars). It offered different curriculum programs (homeschool, independent study -online program, and university prep – online program that is more advanced, plus there is group work and meetings with other students). I did the independent study. It was honestly one of the best decisions I ever made. I got to have control of my schedule, learn at my own pace, and also finish senior year in one semester.
    The next semester, I started (community) college, and am planning to transfer to a university. I think everything depends on the program the school uses and your own efforts. My school had required meetings with teachers every two weeks, tutoring and homework help, different enrichment programs, and even a prom. If there were curriculum changes implemented that would better the quality of education, then online schools could be a great option for students.

  4. I was homeschooled with K-12 for the entirety of my middle school years, I can say without a doubt say that it was severely stunted not only my learning capability, but my overall knowledge. I believe if you or your child is a dancer, actor or is in any profession that requires a flexible learning schedule, this would greatly benefit that person; but aside from this, would just deteriorate anyones mental capacity.

  5. Hollup, I'm an engineering student and I scored in the top 1000th percentile on the ACT and I only went to school 2 days a week for all highschool. Days in school does not equal better outcomes.

  6. unless you can find a loophole, you can’t finish it in under at least 2 1/2 of a day

  7. K12 and Connections (in georgia) both suck. I've done both of them, and I highly regret it. They broke my work ethic and basically forced me to be extremely lazy by not giving me enough work to do, just saying to complete more work instead of recieving harder work to do. MORE =/= HARDER! IT'S JUST MORE OF THE SAME EASY STUFF!



    I have a family full of teachers or who work in the school system. A lot of these school districts are set up for profit. Regular public high schools won't go above and beyond to helping the niche..
    What they'll do is remove all their low performers, send them to charter schools, that way when everyone tests at the end of the year they'll get the highest score possible. Once they become an A or B school they'll get more funding. Not because they have good education and help the niche, but because they kick out low performers.
    Funny enough these charter schools don't even have a grade because it'll be an F.
    They'll put these charter schools on a complicated curriculum on a computer knowing most of these kids won't get with it and not see the light. But nope won't help them. This way the district can quietly flush these kids down the system without being held accountable. Once they hit 21 and age out, they're done.
    This is the districts way of ensuring we have underachievers in life to satisfy the elites. (This applies to PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS) The other private ones are fully operated as a business for profit.

  9. The state shouldn't be able to decide how people exercise their minds, nor should it decide the means of evaluating what should/shouldn't be the "standard" skills to have. At least not to the degree of today's public schools. Yes, private schools have lower test scores, but by what measure? There are infinite ways to measure someone's education, and the way you do it greatly depends on values. Should we test for pure accuracy of information, or all the other things specifically in the process of coming up with an idea? How should the kid who solved a math problem in 5 min by listening to others explain a process be judged differently than the kid who solved it in 10min by his own trial and error? These are important distictions that need to be made on an individual/family level.

  10. I have a story related to this. My 7th grade science teacher was a creationist so my parents decided to have me take an online science course instead. I learned almost nothing and eventually decided to go back to the creationist science teacher since even that was better than online school

  11. Teachers in regular high schools still teach hundreds of students a year, just not physically in one classroom.

  12. as a high schooler who is enrolled in connection academy, i can tell you i have complete support from teachers, it’s not as accessible in public school, but it is just a phone call away. the kids who feel the need to go to these schools are pretty much all troubled in a way, or are struggling with public school and education in general. very gross to say that standardized test scores are a way to see which schools work and which ones don’t when online school is literally an alternative for the struggling.

  13. I hate to say it but education requires structure. Doesn’t matter what kind of child – just letting a kid hop online and do whatever they want – doesn’t work. Children need structure and supervision

  14. The black girl who is 11 looks like she is in her 30s…wow. I had to watch and pause 3xs to ensure i was not tripping.

  15. Look the way I see it is online school is bad, however it’s not like you’re forced to attend online school. This is a parenting error and one that allows their children to suffer so really I don’t think the companies should be held accountable for the actions of a parents. Online school works for some and should be used by those, but public school is something that should be used by all unless it’s imperative for some reason you do not. To me the study shows not corruption but a poor choice in attending online curriculum over public….

  16. I feel like online school is good for those that properly take advantage of it. I attend a K12 online school (TOPS), and it has worked out very well for me. I can complete all of my coursework in about 3-4 hours, learning much more than I would’ve spending 7+ hours at a brick and mortar school. At least once a week (3x for math, 2x for science, 1x everything else) there are live class connect sessions that you join that are about 45 minutes long where the teacher reviews the stuff you’ve learned that week, with practice problems (for math and science, you review the stuff you’ve learned in the past 2-3 days). There is a set list of lessons that you complete daily, as well as the assignments. Also, teachers for each class have help labs 1-2+ times per week where you can ask questions, complete addition practice problems, get help on an assignment, etc. Teachers will also give you detailed feedback on all the assignments that you turn in, and will regularly send emails to remind students when units are ending or when a big project is due. All the teachers are state certified, and hold at least a bachelors degree in the field they teach (there is an exception, as certain teachers for elective courses, like mythology or public speaking, might have a degree in a related field (i.e. history for the mythology teacher and english for the public speaking teacher)). Also, if you’re interested in a subject, there are additional optional lessons/labs that you can complete for fun. Obviously, there are going to be certain kids that will rush to complete assignments, skip through lessons, etc., and those kids shouldn’t be in online school. I think that there are many kids like myself who thrive in an online environment. In the extra time I have that I now have, I have been able to pursue some of my passions. I’m reading many advanced college level textbooks that I’ve bought in courses that I’m taking in the future. I’ve also had time to read some amazing pieces of literature, such as Common Sense, War and Peace, and more. I don’t think a few outliers bringing down the test score averages should define the entire school. Also, I don’t think the fact that K12 is for profit really matters. This isn’t like a for profit prison, where quality is sacrificed for extra profit. The education is much better than at public brick and mortar schools. Most K12 online schools are accredited, and follow government-set rules and regulations. Additionally, all school supplies, such as textbooks, books for english class, dictionaries (both for english and foreign language class), lab supplies, etc. are sent to you for free, paid for by the government. You can even get a laptop, printer, ink, and an internet hotspot sent to you if you’re economically disadvantaged and a U.S. citizen. There are also clubs you can join, so you don’t have to worry about not having extracurricular for university. On that note, online school gives students extra time to study for things like the SAT/ACT, AP exams (AP/Pre-AP courses are offered), and state tests (such as the STAAR test(s) for Texans). In summation, online school can be great for the right students. Don’t let a few bad kids ruin it for the rest.

    Edit: Sorry for the disorganization. This is just a YouTube comment, and new thoughts and ideas kept coming to me. Also sorry this kinda of got long – congrats if you ready it all lol.

  17. Maybe look to the parents for this issue. In a classroom teachers are there making sure the work is getting done. At home the parents aren’t. Don’t think it’s a curriculum issue

  18. Florida Virtual School was mentioned in here as a charter school. It is not a charter school, it is a public school district in the State of Florida.

  19. I go to a charter school- though it's not online, it's pretty similar. You go to school at least once or twice a week, check in with your teachers, get a packet, and work on your own, at your own pace, at home. And, I have to say, I absolutely hate it. It's hard for me to stay on track, I have no friends, and I miss regular school more and more every day.

  20. I love how everyone is talking about how public and online charter school are bad, but you can't talk about how bad private schools are.

  21. I just want to say, as someone went to both public and online charter schools, I had a great experience with k12. I had a less great experience with the public high school

  22. I'd still take going to my online school over being forced to wear my binder all day, in a place where nobody likes me, counting down the seconds before I can go home and finally start paying attention to the world around me instead of just watching youtube on my phone, ignoring everything my teachers say, regardless of how poor my grades are in either system.

  23. thank you, and this is what my mother doesn’t understand. i sit there and feel like i’m being drained. i used to love school now it’s a task that makes me feel isolated

  24. I did video/online homeschool from a private school (Pensacola Christian School) as a teen. It was absolutely useless. I had no way to interact with other students, I was able to cheat, I rarely paid attention. If you are not a self-motivated student with other outlets for socialization, it is a poor choice. It took years after high school for me to find my way to the right path. Now I teach music for a large charter district, having also worked in public districts. My school offers an online program but I still adhere to the idea that for many students, it just doesn't offer the interaction or time management needed for healthy growth.

  25. I feel like one issue with this is that public school curriculums teach the tests and I feel like charter schools allow more development of real life skills

  26. Flvs was the worst segment of my life the whole flexibility thing is wrong. I have to do lets say 25 work stuff a week. And each lesson is 30 minutes to read. Then you have to do all the papers another 30 minutes then take the quiz or worst a paper test an hour and a half of work per lesson. And language arts is the worst sometimes it's week can have 10 papers. Whilw im doinf match, science, and social studiea. You also have to attend a 2 and a half hour class from 9:00 to 11:15 not so bad right, wrong. With all of this only 4 if your waking hours are your own time. With ghe cherry on top elementary students have to pick 2 other subjects. It was robotics ( probaly a few hours., spanish (2 hour class time), art class (1 hour class time, and somwthing wlse you have to. Then you have these thick folders and its very easy to lose something or not do it as the flipbook (weekly planner with pages and lessons per week) doeant even contaon al the papers. Emailing a teacher takes ages and often they aren't helpful. I never want to do 5th grade flvs ever again. I was pulles out because my mother thought it would help me learn. Aence she pukked me out I never got to graduate at my school and get to walk all because of FLVS.

  27. For some being in a kind of poor online school is better than not being able to attend because of mental health or behavioural issues or in worst case scenarios it’s better than the kid ending up dead.

  28. And that’s why online schools aren’t good is that what this message is going to tell me about? You simply didn’t go deep into this subject

  29. I'm homeschooled and all of my courses are online through different curriculums. You have to turn stuff in on time, and I work really hard! If you're gonna do school at home, do an online homeschool program and self-teach. You don't need these online teachers. Just have the due date so you get it done. It all depends on the person. The school system is a disaster as a whole so I don't think online charter is the problem.

  30. I was enrolled in connections academy from 7th to 8th grade, and had straight F’s, and they somehow let me go on to high school. Now that I’m in a public school, I have a 3.5 GPA. Yet, I still struggle with math, because I never learned basic algebraic skills or geometry rules. It’s really sad, because math is a real interest of mine, but the material they provide with just isn’t enough. The teachers are so unengaged, and barely even answer emails. Most of my questions went unanswered, so my grades suffered. Don’t let this go on.

  31. Teachers are used to handling a lot of students. If a traditional teacher has 30 students per period, and teaches at least 4, that’s already 120 students to keep track of

  32. You completely forgot that many (but not all) of the kids registered with these schools are PROBLEM students to begin with, thus the poor scores.

  33. In my public school, we always have classes with 25-30 students per class, IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. I chose to be in late French immersion (in Canada) to have a smaller class of about 15

  34. Are the schools failing the students are do the students lack the motivation? I would like to hear from the students. Who failed and why they think they did not succeed. Are there success stories?

  35. Correct me if I'm wrong but couldnt part of the problem be that the students who attend these online school are less intelligent?

    A large part of the students who would choose such a school would be those who can't keep up with public schools

  36. In India, education is an industry, not a service. Look up how many so called 'universities' are being run by illiterate politicians.

  37. At my high school the schedule looks like this:

    1st period: 1h29
    2nd period: 1h29
    Lunch: 0h30
    3rd period: 1h29
    4th period: 1h29

  38. Ya I did that for a year, I literally didn’t do anything, but it literally didn’t effect me at all going back to normal school

  39. This should be updated, as NH has an online charter school- VLACS, and I didn’t see that on the map

  40. Public charter schools are awful
    I went to K12 during my sophomore year and it was a complete nuisance to daily life and I didn't learn anything. I ended up attending Penn Foster my senior year (which isn't free you actually have a tuition to pay) and it was one of the best choices I've made personally. But online schooling isn't for everyone. Sometimes you learn things sometimes you don't because you can't discipline yourself enough to learn anything. There's a reason why when people ask me about my online schooling experience I tell them it isn't for everyone. I won't lie, there are subjects that I hated (math and science) where I ended up looking up the answers which is why I don't excel in those subjects even after graduating but I hope to actually learn once I go to the community college I'll be attending soon.

    Overall, when it comes to K12 and connections academy it is the absolute worse. Even a program such as Penn Foster doesn't live up to the "best online school" status. It all depends on the kid's willingness to actually learn. I will say though it does teach discipline and having them experience what it's like to have to do things on their own while the parents monitoring them of course.

  41. I know a number of people who were able to graduate early through online charter schools. It’s not for everyone like online classes in college.

  42. I have gone to one and it was bad, I didn’t need to but any effort into the school, but I won’t complain I got to play video game all day 😀

  43. Did a bunch of curriculums in high school, K12 was the only one with good material. FVS was a joke and we all knew it. Anyway virtual school was awesome for me, but my sister flunked out… it really depends how much motivation+self-control you have.

  44. As a kid who just can’t do big “cookie-cutter” schools, this is a great thing for kids with learning disabilities, or kids who can’t really deal with the pressure. I go to a private building school, and it has debilitated me mentally. Private online schooling seems like a good idea, but it doesn’t work for the people who need instruction and support.

  45. As someone who uses the online charter school, some states allow the students to “opt out” of state testing. Why does that matter? Because instead of that student having a grade in the list, that student has a zero. That gets averaged in with the students who actually took the state test, reducing where the school stands compared to peers in public schools. .. Our charter school saw special Ed population double every year, bc public school has become detrimental to those kids. I get that people like the statistics, but there’s an explanation behind those numbers.

  46. Online school is SUCH a joke. I didnt log on for an entire month and nothing was done. Now mind you I used to be a honors and gifted program student. I just became homeless and stopped caring about school and went to work instead

  47. As a former Site Representative to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, I encourage individuals to realize that using state and/or district-based assessments (the viability of each, questionable in their own right) as the metric against one measures institutional success, may not be entirely accurate.

  48. I think that the thing about the online charter school students being almost a year behind in knowledge can't be fully true. Think about it, the kids they chose could've just generally been bad at math. The kids in the normal schools could've been more mentally intelligent. Some kids might not've even cared about their grades. It differs student to student. I go to an online charter school, and I get straight A's. The majority of the students in my class are as equally smart as me or smarter.
    I understand that this was several years ago, but I honestly doubt anyone would've done a study about it again.

  49. America needs to get rid of this for profit ideology on everything. Even prison systems are for profit. For-profit brings greed and corruption. America may be a rich country but at the expense of many.

  50. I took connections academy for a trimester. It didn't work out for me and was really difficult. In connections academy you have to go to at least 2 live classes a week. You also have to talk with teachers on the phone to let them know how your doing. The problem I have with talking on the phone is if I have never seen you in person I get extremely nervous about that and really I don't know why. Also as for they don't work for a lot of students and really that's true. My mom thought that since I was going through connections academy I had more time to be at home and do things but really I had to constantly be busy at home and at school. And as for doing actual copies of work my mom needed to buy a new printer and ink and yeah. Also the teachers didn't do a good job of explaining themselves. Really it's more easy to go through school I failed every class of a trimester because connections academy was too difficult to understand what they were even saying. Really it does need some improvement and it might be more better if you start to do connections academy in kindergarten. Teachers were nice to me and really I enrolled in connections academy because I wanted to get away from the emotional abuse from teachers I was dealing with in school. I have since graduated high school so at least I did that.

  51. I graduated a traditional high school only a few years ago and mostly remember it being a swirl of useless term papers and endless homework. I don’t remember learning anything. Maybe there’s something to be said about the whole k-12 system in general.

  52. I’m not entirely sure if this is true or not, cause I’m gonna be attending a charter school that’s mostly online but I go into a class 2 days a week for 6 hours, and me being in public school my entire life up until now freshman year, I’m not sure how it’s gonna turn out now that I’ve seen this video.

  53. My high school wouldn't allow me to graduate early, So I was able to transfer to a charter and finish out. I did, easily, though the school got shut down right after I graduated for misreporting student numbers for more money.

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