Colorado Online Schools

There are so many facets to the numerous stories concerning Colorado online schools put out by the press over the past week.  Sunday’s headlines alone included:

Pattern of lax oversight for Colorado’s online schools

ONLINE PART 1: State-supported online schools failing students, data show

ONLINE PART 2: Analysis shows achievement drop for students

ONLINE PART 3: Oversight of schools lax, lobbying muscle strong

Half of online students leave, funding stays

Oversight yet to catch up with Colorado’s burgeoning online schools

Investigation shows troubling student data from online schools

On September 30 I linked to the COVA Board Statement on Graduation Rate so you could get a better and bigger picture of Colorado Virtual Academy and the students it serves.

I also talked about the questions that Colorado’s Senate President Brandon Schaffer is hoping to get answered.  Why are these questions only being asked of online schools?  Why not include the brick and mortar public schools as well?

As a parent and a taxpayer, I want the highest quality education for my children and I understand and appreciate the importance of accountability.

This year Colorado’s Official Count Day, which defines student enrollment and determines school funding, was September 30, 2011. Count Day is usually October 1, but state rules say that if October 1 falls on a Saturday or Sunday then it’s agreed that Official Count Day is either September 30 or October 2.

Colorado’s Official Count Day was established more than 10 years ago when online education was in its infancy and the majority of Colorado online schools that exist today did not exist back then.

If a student is physically in class on the Official Count Day then the school gets funding for that student.  It makes perfect sense, but what about when that student leaves the school and the money doesn’t follow the student?

There are a vast number of reasons why families choose the online model and then leave the program, some of which are:

The home structure turns out not to be a good fit

The family moved out of state

The curriculum was too rigorous for the student

The student was not self-motivated

For economic reasons the stay at home parent/learning coach needed to go back to work

For whatever reason a family finds that the online model is not a good fit in meeting their child’s learning needs, the fact remains that retention is a concern for online schools and the funding needs to be addressed.  The funding should not be limited to online schools but rather all public schools.

Instead of using taxpayers’ dollars to do another audit after one was completed in 2007, why not look at redefining the way we allocate dollars to our public schools?  Online schools flunk audit was one of the headlines from December 2006, and questions that came about as a result of the 2006 audit were addressed and the data can be accessed through CDE’s website.

We need to find another way to fund our public schools, both traditional and online.

Utah recently passed SB-65 so Funding can now follow students to online high schools.

Having the money follow the student makes perfect sense.

And one more very important point to share is that online students do not get equal funding.  Students attending traditional B & M schools receive full PPR while online students receive minimum PPR.  As a parent and taxpayer I strongly believe that all students should receive adequate and equitable funding, which is currently not the case.

There are many areas that the media touched on that I will write about in the coming days from a parent’s perspective of children enrolled in an online school.

But for now, I know one thing for absolute certain and that’s that our online public charter school, Colorado Virtual Academy, has provided all 3 of my children with a high quality education and it has individualized learning to meet their academic needs.

Let’s get this figured out quickly so parents and students can get back to learning without the constant media attacks on our schools and our students!

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Comments

  1. Great thoughts 🙂

  2. I loved this article Lori! Well said! I had the pleasure of attending our NHS Student day at COVA on Friday. I heard some really amazing stories from students and parents that day. All I could think of is why can’t the media see these stories. So passionate about their story and how COVA was the right choice. Some even with big ole tears welling up when they told their story and in ours too for them. I ♥ our families! I ♥ our online school! It’s not about the $$ it’s about the kids!

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