Kids who attend online charters perform like traditional students who miss the whole year

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Charter schools?


Reminds me of the time my 4th-grade teacher let us all “work at our own pace” for the entire year. I probably read every book in that school, but learned zero math. I would have LOVED an online charter that let me get away with the same thing.


Working as intended.




I think you need to take into account human nature, and the “self selection” process involved. I teach both F2F and fully online courses. The students fall broadly into two categories. 1) non-traditional students who are usually motivated, dedicated, etc. if maybe a little “rusty,” 2) younger students who are taking the online class because they think it will be “easier” (and often have failed in the F2F course). I would strongly suspect that these charter schools get a lot of column B enrollees. Plus, asking kids to do that sort of time management is really REALLY unreasonable in most cases. I know at 17 I would have put off reading math to go play some XBox. Or sleep.
It’s like the Alternative Program we had at our HS. For some kids it was the best thing EVER, and they excelled, did what they wanted at their own pace and interest. For others…not so much.


The key thing goal of schooling in my opinion, especially at the younger years, is to encourage an independent love of learning. The actual level of math, science, and reading is less important since if the kids aren’t already cynical about school they can always catch up on the facts later.

A kid who is driven and focused can learn a whole year’s worth of math in a couple of months.

This whole assessment based approach to schooling just makes me barf. I’m not arguing for or against this particular online charter school, but I am arguing against the whole system that it is a part of.


Yes. People spend a whole lot of money measuring the wrong things because the right things are much more difficult to measure.


I think we should keep in mind that we’re talking money-making charter schools here.


Well, yes, and no. I don’t think money-making itself is the problem. There are plenty of profitable private schools that focus on a more modern approach to teaching children (exploratory learning, little/no homework, collaboration, etc). Eg- Montessori, Waldorf, Democratic schools, etc.

The difference is that these kinds of schools could never make it in the public system since they can never “prove” (and I mean that sarcastically and cynically) that a child is learning since there is no testing.

The good schools put their philosophy above making a profit, but they still can (and should) make a profit.

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I disagree. For-profit schools too often put profit ahead of effective education. The very idea of being for profit encourages that.

Education is a public good, a public need. As with health care, treating it like a business instead only drives up costs for users and degrades quality for most of them.


I’d say if even one school put profit above education it would be too often, and we’re way past that point. There are a handful of okay for-profit schools, but for the large majority you’re spot on. Most of them are just garbage.


I strongly suspect there’s a selection bias problem here. I used to know a student in one of those online schools. The father was almost always busy with work, the mother was incompetent at discipline. The kid in question was an increasing problem and one year he refused to go to school. The “solution” was an online school. It got the state off their backs but he only did a couple of lessons the whole year. Of course he learned nothing.


I think one of the problems is lack of oversight and accountability among online and homeschool settings


We have known some kids who did online programs to avoid bullying at school or because of a lack of regular support for developmental challenges. They have gotten mixed results. My daughter goes to a bricks and mortar, nonprofit charter elementary. It is an excellent school that focuses on project-based learning. However, the students’ exceptional performance is due as much to the self-selecting nature of a charter as it is to the school’s curriculum and teaching staff.

I feel like online curriculum could play a successful role in reaching some part of the student population. That it is currently an abysmal failure is just a problem to solve. I don’t believe that a for-profit company will ever do that, though. Because they’re for profit, and there’s a finite cap on the amount of revenue they can extract from the state, the only way for them to increase profits is to decrease services they provide. It’s the same problem as for-profit prisons.

The one-size-fits-all approach used by most school districts in our state (North Carolina) means that big swaths of students are left behind. In a perfect world, the school districts would absorb the parts of the charter schools that work well, so that more students could be reached successfully. I really don’t like the shadow education system that has developed here. However, the state of North Carolina has so badly mismanaged its public education system that everyone who can, flees.


Here’s my canned response about our success at a charter. I completely understand that the school is in the minority but it truly is a great model and continues to grow year over year:

I’m going to throw out a contrarian viewpoint which is solely anecdotal knowing that there are a lot of bad charter schools out there.

Both of my kids attend, and my wife teaches at a charter school which focuses on the arts and global education. Pretty much every accusation towards the “bad” charter schools is not the case with us. The school receives no more funding than any other school, parental involvement is a requirement (typically each class has 2 or more parent volunteers every day), getting into the school is a blind lottery (the only exception is that siblings of existing students get priority), the school regularly outperforms other schools in the district, the teachers are allowed to use progressive teaching techniques, the teachers win more school district grants than any other school (these are judged blindly by the district), there is less emphasis on standardized testing, the district performs all oversight, students learn in hands-on centers as opposed to primarily lecture-based learning, non-violent communication, it’s a huge wonderful community, etc. etc. etc.

Our school is a great alternative. We’ve had a lot of students that did poorly at “traditional” school, were bullied, didn’t fit in, you name it. Our hippie dippie school has worked wonders for some kids, including my own, by focusing on the “whole child” instead of one subject at a time.

I think my point is that charters can work but you need the right people with the right attitudes running them.

I’m actually going to go with Barbie and say, “Math is HARD!!” Hey, I majored in it, so I’m entitled. It really is. The concepts are quite difficult to wrap your head around. Remember negative numbers? When you first learned about them? What the fuck is a negative apple, one would wonder. It never gets any easier. And so, 95% (++) never really want to get beyond simple arithmetic (which in and of itself turns out to be a very deep rabbit hole). So, they must be taught, as best we can teach them. And self learning is not the way to do that for the vast majority of people.


It’s hard not to be SCORMful of attempts at online education that produce results this bad.

What does that mean?

My last year in college I found out I was one math credit short. Signed up for “Calc for Football Majors”. Unfortunately the TA who was teaching did not actually speak English and was a mumbler. Fortunately for me my grandfather had taught math at that same university for 40 years and he tutored me. I’m one of those people who really can’t self-learn math.

That’s really a thing?

Please tell me it involved exercises working out the trajectory of a thrown football and such like?