- In the 2015-6 academic year, 278,511 students in the United States enrolled in full-time virtual programs offered by 528 schools.
- 155 of the 528 schools accounted for almost 70% of total enrollments.
- More than five students are enrolled in for-profit education management organizations (EMO) for each one in a not-for-profit EMO.
These are just some of the findings from the “Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2017” annual report published by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a research entity at the University of Colorado, Boulder. It employs data from the National Center of Education Statistics, a government institution under the Department of Education.
In terms of performance, 37.4% of full-time virtual schools received a performance rating of “acceptable.” But in only 18 states are the accountability systems working properly, while the rest are still in the process of complying to legislation. Nonprofit EMOs outperformed for-profits, and blended schools stood on top of both. While national averages for on-time graduation remain at 82.3%, full-time and blended learning programs report 43.1% and 43.4% respectively.
Across the country, more and more states seem inclined to offer virtual schools for full-time and blended learning programs. In the views of NEPC’s Alex Molnar, more scrutiny and transparency is warranted for this rapidly expanding practice, especially when it comes to state-funded programs and regulations.
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