Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2013: Politics, Performance, Policy, and Research Evidence

May 2, 2013

This national study, which comprehensively reviews 311 virtual schools operating in the United States, finds serious and systemic problems with the nation’s full-time cyber schools. Despite virtual schools’ track record of students falling behind their peers academically or dropping-out at higher rates, states and districts continue to expand virtual schools and online offerings to students, at high cost to taxpayers. The advocates of full-time virtual schools are several years ahead of policymakers and researchers, and new opportunities are being developed and promoted largely by for-profit entities accountable to stockholders rather than to any public constituency. The report’s authors conclude that continued rapid expansion of full-time cyber schools is unwise. More research is needed; and to enable such research, state oversight agencies need to require more, and better refined, data. Financial controls and funding unique to cyber schools need to be established.

Below are downloadable and/or printable files. The first is the complete brief (including all sections and appendices). Below it are the individual sections, each of which may be downloaded separately.

Research Brief (complete) DOWNLOAD/PRINT
Executive Summary DOWNLOAD/PRINT
Introduction DOWNLOAD/PRINT
Section I DOWNLOAD/PRINT
Section II DOWNLOAD/PRINT
Section III DOWNLOAD/PRINT
Introduction Appendix A DOWNLOAD/PRINT
Section I Appendices B, C, D DOWNLOAD/PRINT