The Grumpy Giraffe

Critiques on social and education issues

Virtual schools: virtually no profit

Anthony Cody, a writer from EdWeek, states some scary facts that show virtual schools are not as innovative nor effective a teaching tool as some may think.

Yes, it is much cheaper not to rent a real building, but discussion is crucial for any learning to occur. Virtual schools (different from online courses, but virtually the same thing, ha ha) are trending just south of the border, although the reasoning for that leaves me baffled.

Here are some facts that could be a rude awakening:

Only 27.7% of K12 schools reported meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in 2010-11. This is nearly identical to the overall performance of all private Education Management Organizations that operate full-time virtual schools (27.4%). In the nation as a whole, an estimated 52% of public schools met AYP in 2010-11.

there are twice as many failing charter schools as successful ones, and one in two charter schools is either in academic emergency or academic watch, compared with only one in 11 traditional public-school buildings (Reedy)


the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow has failed in every identified state category for eight years, a worse track record than the Cleveland City School system, which is under threat of being shut down by the state. The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow is run by unlicensed administrators (Reedy)

And that’s just some of the facts listed in this article.

Of course, you don’t need a PhD in Educational Research to see how virtual schools can fail.

I’m taking an online course (and yes, I do remember that virtual schools are different from online courses), and this is what is expected of me:

  • read 90-120 pages per week
  • write a response of at least 250 words (usually ends up being a page, though some people only write one line) per discussion question (2-4 questions each week)
  • 2 giant projects (1 per semester)

Where is the discussion? I’m paying around $1300 for this course, and there is absolutely no discussion. It’s really scary, but it’s true. Online courses take away the discussion component, and even if they put it back in, some people may complain about too much commitment.

If that’s just one course, imagine how virtual schools are run. I hope Canada doesn’t support virtual schools. It’s one of the most ineffective ways of teaching I have ever seen.


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This entry was posted on July 19, 2012 by in education, school and tagged , , , .


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