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Reaction to Reforming Virtual Charters

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Excerpt from Politico: Morning Education
June 17, 2016

REACTION TO REFORMING VIRTUAL CHARTERS: A report [http://bit.ly/1PuqukS] released this week by three major pro-charter groups calling for an overhaul of the troubled virtual charter schools sector earned praise from education reformers who saw the report as getting “tough on a wayward family member,” tweeted [http://bit.ly/24U7ROn] Andy Smarick of Bellwether Education Partners. Ohio in particular has had trouble holding virtual charter schools accountable. “When national groups that advocate for and champion charter schools question the impact of virtual charter schools on student achievement, policy makers should take note,” said Chad Aldis, vice president for Ohio Policy and Advocacy for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “If Ohio leaders are serious about improving student outcomes for virtual school students, they’d be wise to consider these recommendations.”

But Jeanne Allen of the Center for Education Reform said the report “lacks the depth and integrity that we need in educational analysis, and ignores the fact that the voluntary choices of parents — when they have them — do not represent our conception of what works best for their kids. This report is troubling in that it suggests that the measure of a school’s effectiveness is an average of who gets tested, not who gets served and the conditions under which they enter or leave.”

Three groups last year — the Center for Reinventing Public Education, Mathematica Policy Research and the Center for Research on Education Outcomes — laid bare in different reports the problems plaguing the virtual charter schools sector. CRPE Director Robin Lake said the research took Allen’s concerns “into consideration and still found some of the most consistently poor results I’ve ever seen in a charter study,” she told Morning Education. “Research should be nuanced but recommendations for policy responses should be clear and firm. Virtual charters have an important role to play, but the ones we have today are simply not fulfilling their promise. Policy action and leadership are urgently needed to close low-performing virtual schools.”

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