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K12 Report: Online Charter Schools Closing Low-Income Achievement Gap

A new K12 Inc. report showing three of its largest managed online charter schools Texas Virtual Academy (TXVA), Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA), and Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA)  are making progress on closing the achievement gap for economically disadvantaged students.

Texas Virtual Academy: In reading, when comparing TXVA students enrolled for 3 years or more to those enrolled less than 1 year, proficiency percentages increased with longer enrollment for "Free Lunch Eligible" students by 20 percentage points, for "Reduced-Price Lunch" by 18 percentage points, and 15 percentage points for students that were "Not Eligible" for subsidized meals. Particularly notable at TXVA is the impressive improvement in mathematics for each category of students enrolled 3 years or more, with 74% of students eligible for "Free Lunch" reaching proficiency, 81% of students eligible for "Reduced-Price Lunch" reaching proficiency, and 94% of students "Not Eligible' for subsidized meals reaching proficiency. 

Arizona Virtual Academy: In reading, proficiency percentages increased for AZVA in all "Free or Reduced-Priced" lunch (FRL) groups. The gap between "Free Lunch Eligible" and "Not Eligible" narrowed from 17 percentage points for students enrolled less than 1 year, to 15 percentage points for students enrolled 3 years or more. In mathematics, compared to students enrolled less than 1 year, AZVA students enrolled 3 years or more achieved higher proficiency percentages across all FRL groups.

Georgia Cyber Academy: In reading, compared to students enrolled less than 1 year, GCA students enrolled 3 years or more achieved higher proficiency percentages, except for students eligible for "Reduced-Price Lunch". The overall proficiency percentage of students eligible for "Reduced-Price Lunch" enrolled 3 years of more remained high at 95%. In mathematics, compared to students enrolled less than 1 year, GCA students enrolled 3 years or more achieved higher proficiency percentages in all FRL groups.

Narrowing the Gap

"For the 2013-2014 school year, K12 reported that its network of schools enrolled a higher percentage of economically disadvantaged students than the national average," said Dr. Margaret Jorgensen, K12 Chief Academic Officer.

"K12-managed schools are working to close the achievement gap, and in this report we look at three cases where schools are closing the gap between students eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch and those not eligible. In other instances, we observed that students who were eligible for either free or reduced price lunch are achieving higher percentages at or above proficiency on state tests, while others who were not eligible for subsidized meals were making even greater gains in proficiency."

The report concludes that AZVA, TXVA, and GCA continue to narrow the gap between students who are economically disadvantaged and those that are not, while simultaneously raising the achievement levels of all "Free or Reduced-Price" lunch groups in both reading and mathematics.

Read the full report and comment below.

Article by Navindra Persaud, Education World Contributor.

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