More and more students are learning via virtual education in the United States. In lieu of getting their education in their public school buildings, students (often those who have been a part of behavioral conflicts at schools) are being placed in all online classes.
According to the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), during the 2011-2012 school year, there were 311 full-time virtual schools across the U.S. and about 200,000 students enrolled. In 2016, those numbers increased; 278,000 students were enrolled in 528 full-time virtual schools.
And, as reported in the Riverfront Times August 15 cover story, Virtual Education is Increasingly a Big Profit Center, But at What Cost to Students?, students are more of often placed in these learning programs as a way to relieve school districts from potential conflicts created by the student’s physical enrollment. The students who end up in these programs are often identified as those with behavior issues..
More often than not, these virtual education centers have a negative impact on students’ learning. In 2017, the NEPC reported that “blended” schools (those that have face-to-face learning and virtual education, combined) received a 72 percent acceptable performance rating. Whereas 37.4 percent of full-time virtual schools received acceptable performance ratings. What’s more, the national average of students who graduate on time in public schools is 82 percent. And for those who “attend” virtual schools, it’s a mere 43 percent.
Our firm has represented families affected by the growing popularity of virtual education, including in D.L. v. Saint Louis Public School District. SLPS wanted to place our 10 year-old client with autism and ADHD in an alternative school with a curriculum based on a virtual education theory. Our firm believes the district’s motivation was to rid themselves of the responsibility that went with educating a student with special education needs.