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Michigan's Virtual Schools Expansion Could Cease After Poor Results

Virtual schools have been a part of Michigan’s push to not only improve the technology in their state's schools, but also to promote innovation on top of the traditional school models. However, a new report shows that the poor academic results aren’t helping the push. As a result, some are calling for a halt to the expansion.

“On average, virtual schools have low graduation rates, perform poorly on state standardized tests, and have high student-to-teacher ratios, according to the report, from the National Education Policy Center, a nonpartisan education research organization based at the University of Colorado,” according to M Live.

In the M Live report, it is revealed that 57 full-time virtual schools and seven blended learning schools were a part of the examination. While enrollment has grown in these schools, the academic performance seems to be suffering.  

"We need to go back to the drawing board," said Gary Miron, an education professor at Western Michigan University who co-authored the report, according to the article.

"We need to bring in researchers, we need to bring practitioners, and we need to decide on how to make a model that will work for the public."

According to the study of the students from the Michigan Virtual Charter Academy, 35.4 percent of students met and exceeded English language arts standards and 13.7 percent met and exceeded standards. Both of these percentages were lower than that of the statewide numbers in the respective categories.

“Jared Burkhart, executive director of the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers, said another factor affecting the overall picture of virtual school performance is that such schools were originally intended to serve struggling students who are looking to make up classes they failed,” according to M Live.

"Half of the student population in a virtual school for a long time was a drop out student. We're still kind of seeing the results of that in the numbers as well."

It’s often hard for lawmakers to halt these expansions when they are fully underway, but the results of this report certainly aren't encouraging.

Read the full story here.

Article by Navindra Persaud, Education World Contributor

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