Virual School Graduation and Drop Out Rates Remain Below Michigan State Average

Data gathered in 2016 by the state of Michigan captures every publicly funded school’s performance on a long list of factors, including drop out and graduation rates. Available at, a comparison of the state’s virtual schools to the state average yields this chart:


More on this data is available on


Expansion proceeds without evidence that they work

  • Online school outcomes continue to be consistently below traditional public schools. This, according to the 4th Annual Virtual Schools Report published by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC).

NEPC 2016

With key providers vigorously lobbying legislatures and national organizations promoting school choice, virtual schooling now has a firm foothold: 30 states and the District of Columbia allow full-time virtual schools and blended schools to operate, and even more states allow, or in some cases require, one or more courses to be delivered online to district public school students.

…our findings indicate for-profit EMOs continue to dominate and increased their market share from 2012- 13 and again from 2013-14.

There is not a single positive sign from the empirical evidence presented here. Given this picture, continued expansion seems unwise. More research is needed; and to enable such research, state oversight agencies need to require more, and better refined, data.

More about the report.

  • “A recent study of virtual schools in Pennsylvania conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University revealed that students in online schools performed significantly worse than their traditional counterparts. Another study, from the University of Colorado in December 2010, found that only 30 percent of virtual schools run by for-profit organizations met the minimum progress standards outlined by No Child Left Behind, compared with 54.9 percent of brick-and-mortar schools. For White HatManagement, the politically connected Ohio for-profit operating both traditional and virtual charter schools, the success rate under NCLB was a mere 2 percent, while for schools run by K12 Inc., it was 25 percent. A major review by the Education Department found that policy reforms embracing online courses “lack scientific evidence” of their effectiveness.” How Online Learning Companies Bought America’s Schools, The Nation, December 5, 2011
  • “The report by the National Education Policy Center says 27% of for-profit companies operating virtual schools met the adequate yearly progress standards of the federal No Child Left Behind law.  K12, Inc. operates … Michigan Virtual Charter Academy. Of the 39 virtual schools that K12 operates that received an AYP rating in 2010, 13 met the standards.  Connections Academy, based in Baltimore, operates the … Michigan Connections Academy. Nationwide, 27% of its virtual charters met the standards.” Virtual Schools lag other public schools’ performance, The Detroit Free Press, January 18, 2012.
  • “The current climate of K-12 school reform promotes uncritical acceptance of any and all virtual education innovations, despite lack of a sound research base supporting claims that technology in and of itself will improve teaching and learning.
    Therefore, it is recommended that policymakers refrain from establishing or further expanding full-time, taxpayer-funded virtual schools. No reliable research has yet demonstrated under what conditions, in what format, and in what specific ways virtual schools may present an advantage over existing bricks-and-mortar schools.” Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2013, National Education Policy Center, May 2013.
  • Higher education’s version of on-line schooling, MOOC’s (Massively Open Online Courses) is massively failing. A recent study showed that: “only about half of those who registered for a course ever viewed a lecture, and only about 4 percent completed the courses.”These failures were common, including among charter school students who had access to mentors: “fewer than a quarter of the students — and only 12 percent of the high school students — earned a passing grade.” After Setbacks, On-line Courses Are Rethought, The New York Times, December 2013.

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