Students in Colorado’s online programs recorded an average turnover rate of 70.7 percent in 2009-10, compared to 26.1 percent for all schools, including alternative programs.
Those kinds of numbers are expected to spark attempts to better regulate online programs in the General Assembly beginning Wednesday, according to at least one lawmaker.
But a study completed late last year by the Colorado Department of Education’s online learning unit says some state definitions may be unfairly penalizing online programs.
“Without a full understanding … these numbers are incredibly alarming, especially when a comparison is made between the state mobility rate and the online mobility rates,” wrote Amanda Heiney, the report’s author and a senior consultant for the CDE.
Heiney reviewed more than 16,000 records from 2009-10 and found a majority of moves occurring due to transfer to and from other districts, as opposed to between schools. That’s likely because many full-time online programs are operated through the state Charter School Institute or are based in one school district while drawing students from many others.
But not all transfers between schools count as a “mobility” action while transfers between districts generally do, meaning “the currently mobility calculations may be inadvertently inflating the mobility rates” in online schools, Heiney wrote.
Both Heiney and Amy Anderson, who heads the online unit, said the report points to the need for more analysis about why students enroll in online schools – and why they leave.
“I do still believe that based on the information you’ve analyzed,” Anderson told EdNews, “and the information I’ve looked at that we are seeing probably a higher movement with our online schools in terms of kids coming in and out than we would typically see in brick-and-mortar schools. I want to understand why that’s happening.”
Anderson said she’s planning six months of deeper analysis, followed by “a learning series” with partners – the Colorado Legacy Foundation and the Donnell-Kay Foundation – before producing a series of “key next steps … to further the movement in ways that ensure higher quality.”
EdNews and the I-News Network analyzed five years’ worth of state student records and found more than half of students enrolled in online programs left within a year, often returning to traditional schools but leaving their state funding behind in the online programs. See the series.
Geri Anderson, vice president of academic and student affairs and provost of the Colorado Community College System, is the interim president of Community College of Aurora. She’ll start March 1 and remain until a new president is named. Linda Bowman, the current CCA president, announced her retirement last month and initially agreed to stay until a permanent replacement was found. But she won the prestigious Fulbright Specialists Award and needs to travel to Hong Kong to work on higher education public policy from March 2 through April 12. Read the news release.
What’s on tap:
Aurora Public Schools board members meet at 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. today in closed session to receive legal advice about the district’s budget; they convene in public session at 6 p.m. for a meeting slated to include an update on the district’s pilot schools and charter schools. The meetings are at 1085 Peoria Street. Agenda.
Adams 50 Westminster school board members are expected to name Pamela Swanson as superintendent. Swanson has been interim since the departure last year of Roberta Selleck, who helped usher in the district’s standards-based education system. Swanson’s proposed contract calls for a base salary of $167,500. The board meets at 6 p.m. today at Westminster High School. Agenda.
Ed research in the news:
Value-added – A study by economists at Harvard University and Columbia University tracked 2.5 million children over 20 years to gauge the impact of teacher quality on students’ lives. On Jan. 6, the New York Times reported that teachers who help raise their students’ test scores “seem to have a wide-ranging, lasting positive effect on those students’ lives beyond academics, including lower teenage-pregnancy rates and greater college matriculation and adult earnings.” Read the New York Times story and see the study.
Teacher effectiveness – A second set of findings from the Measures of Teacher Effectiveness or MET Project, by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, paints a bleak picture of what’s occurring in the nation’s classrooms, wrote Elizabeth Green at GothamSchools.org on Jan. 6. Denver is among school districts participating in the study. Read the Gothamschools.org story and see the study.
Virtual schools – A report on education management organizations found enrollment in online schools managed by EMOs rose sharply in 2010-11. But only 27 percent of those schools achieved Adequate Yearly Progress, the benchmark under the federal No Child Left Behind law, compared to 52 percent of all schools nationally. Read the New York Times story from Jan. 6 and see the study from the National Education Policy Center based in Boulder.
Charter schools – A report from an ongoing study of charter school networks finds three of the six networks had significant positive effects on their students’ graduation while two had no statistically significant impact and one had a “serious negative impact” on the graduation rates of its students compared to local public schools. Read the Jan. 9 EdWeek report and see the report.
The EdNews’ Churn is a daily roundup of briefs, notes and meetings in the world of Colorado education. To submit an item for consideration in this listing, please email us at EdNews@EdNewsColorado.org