The Washington Post:
The study was done by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes, known as CREDO, and located at Stanford University, in collaboration with the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington and Mathematica Policy Research. CREDO’s founding director, Margaret Raymond, served as project director. CREDO receives funding from the pro-charter Walton Family Foundation, which provided support for the new research.
In its newest report, released this week, CREDO evaluated online K-12 charter schools. There are 17 states with online charter students: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia.
The study sought to answer this question: “How did enrollment in an online charter school affect the academic growth of students?” Academic growth, as mentioned before, is measured by standardized test scores for the purpose of this study, which evaluated scores from online charter students between 2008 and 2013 and compared them to students in traditional public schools (not brick-and-mortar charters). Here are some of the findings:
Students in online charters lost an average of about 72 days of learning in reading.
Students in online charters lost 180 days of learning in math during the course of a 180-day school year. Yes, you read that right. As my colleague Lyndsey Layton wrote in this story about the study, it’s as if the students did not attend school at all when it comes to math.
The average student in an online charter had lower reading scores than students in traditional schools everywhere except Wisconsin and Georgia, and had lower math scores everywhere except in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Layton quoted Raymond as saying, “There’s still some possibility that there’s positive learning, but it’s so statistically significantly different from the average, it is literally as if the kid did not go to school for an entire year.”
I actually have some experience with online education as well, for the continuing education that I have to do for my job, and I can concur that what I "learn" online is often harder for me to retain than the classes that I attend in person.
My daughter has also studied online courses, and though she always passes them with ease, her retention is not that great either.
There is something to be said for being part of a class listening to a teacher as being superior to reading materials online or watching instructional videos.
Just another reminder that public education is USUALLY far superior to its various alternatives.