National Alliance Responds to CREDO's Virtual Charter Schools Report

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Washington, D.C. Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, released the following statement in response to the CREDO report about full-time virtual charter public schools:

"The National Alliance is disheartened to learn of the large-scale under-performance of full-time virtual charter public schools. While we know that this model works for some students, the CREDO report shows that too many students aren't succeeding in a full-time online environment. It is a call to action for authorizers and policymakers.

"We firmly believe that individual charter public schools that are failing their students should be closed. This is an essential piece of the charter public school model in which schools are given more flexibility to innovate in exchange for a higher level of accountability for student achievement. Therefore, we call on authorizers of full-time virtual charter public schools to dramatically improve oversight of their schools, which, in some cases, will mean closing them.

"Though serving only six percent of the students in charter public schools, the breadth of this under-performance convinces us that states may need to change the parameters within which full-time virtual charter public schools can operate. Those changes will depend upon the sophistication of a states student funding, attendance, and achievement systems. Subject to the circumstances in each state, one or more of these provisions will be most relevant:

  1. Only permit statewide authorizers to oversee full-time virtual charter public schools that serve students from more than one district, while still allowing districts to oversee full-time virtual charter public schools that serve students from within their districts.
  2. Require authorizers and schools to jointly determine goals regarding student enrollment, attendance, engagement, achievement, truancy, attrition, finances, and operations, include these goals in charter contracts, and require authorizers to make renewal decisions based upon a schools progress against these goals.
  3. Explore whether authorizers and full-time virtual charter public schools should establish and implement legally permissible criteria and processes for enrollment based on the existence of supports needed for student success.
  4. Investigate funding full-time virtual charter public school students via a performance-based funding system.

"Its important to note that the research only addresses full-time virtual charter public schools and does not address variations such as blended learning, which have proven to be highly effective in raising student achievement and innovation in our space.

"We believe that full-time virtual charter public schools are meaningful and beneficial options for some students. In fact, this report shows that between 30% and 40% of students in full-time virtual charter public schools are performing better than their virtual twins. Notwithstanding these success stories, these schools aren't working well for enough students at this point in time. The National Alliance stands ready to work with authorizers and policymakers as they embark on making the tough changes necessary to ensure that this model works for many more students in the future."

About Charter Schools
Charter schools are independent, public, and tuition-free schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Since 2010, manyresearch studieshavefound that students in charter schools do better in school than their traditional school peers. For example, one study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that charter schools do a better job teaching low income students, minority students, and students who are still learning English than traditional schools. Separate studies by the Center on Reinventing Public Education and Mathematica Policy Research have found that charter school students are more likely to graduate from high school, go on to college, stay in college and have higher earnings in early adulthood.

About the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter movement.