Freer Rein for Online Learning Programs? Review Finds No Evidence to Support Unrestricted Expansion

Contact: 
William J. Mathis, (802) 282-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Michael Barbour,  313-577-8349, mkbarbour@gmail.com

URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/75r9wj7

 

BOULDER, CO (March 22, 2010) – Overcoming the Governance Challenge in K-12 Online Learning, the fifth and final paper in the Fordham Institute’s series examining digital learning policy, proposes steps to move the governance of K-12 online learning from the local district level to the less restrictive state level and to create a free market for corporate innovation in K-12 online learning.

In a new review of the report for the Think Twice think tank review project, Michael K. Barbour of Wayne State University finds that its central premise—that K-12 online learning will lead to increased student achievement—lacks support.

Reviewer Barbour has been involved with K-12 online learning in Canada, the United States and New Zealand for more than a decade as a researcher, teacher, course designer and administrator. His research focuses on the effective design, delivery and support of K-12 online learning, particularly for students located in rural jurisdictions

The review is published by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

Barbour observes that the body of research to date suggests that there is no learning advantage for virtual schools.

Further, no evidence is presented that supports the wisdom or efficacy of centralizing governance at the state level or that moving to a market model is a superior, productive, or economical practice, he writes.

Barbour observes that the recommendation that virtual schools should be funded at the same per-pupil amount as traditional public schools raises the question of profiteering, given Fordham’s claim that virtual schools operate more economically—a claim for which is limited evidence.

The report, he concludes, appears to be ideologically motivated and designed to open up the $600 billion market of K-12 education to for-profit corporations.

 

Find Michael Barbour’s review on the NEPC website at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-overcoming-governance

Find Overcoming the Governance Challenge in K-12 Online Learning, by John E. Chubb on the web at:
http://www.edexcellence.net/publications/overcoming-the-governance-challenge-in-k-12-online-learning.html

The Think Twice think tank review project (http://thinktankreview.org) of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) provides the public, policy makers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. The Think Twice think tank review project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.  For more information on the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.

This review is also found on the GLC website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/

NEPC Reviews (http://thinktankreview.org) provide the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC Reviews are made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org