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Trouble in Paradise with Virtual High Schools

Thu, Aug 11, 2011

Distance Learning, Uncategorized

by Charles W. Bindig, Ed.D.

The best kept secret in the virtual education world is their inability to retain students, as evidenced by the abysmal retention rates reported to be in the area of 50%-60%. The reason for this unfortunate number is due to a number of factors including the age appropriate delivery system and the extreme rigor of the programs.Â

Many of the virtual high schools are metaphors of the regular school with principals, superintendents and curriculum directors. Teachers in the online environment deal with students not participating, being left home alone to participate and parents thinking that the can leave the entire process up to the virtual school. Imagine a virtual high school having discipline problems online as well as low attendance rates. Many of the virtual schools are forced to set-up tutoring centers as well as testing centers that are on-ground.

Virtual high schools are essentially the regular school delivered via the internet via lecture and some interactive. The schools have not matured to the level where they use the power of technology to raise student achievement.  For example,  they do not as a general practice provide interactive software for instruction but either provide synchronous or asynchronous delivery of static content. The virtual school can be viewed as the interactive white board delivered directly to your home, where the effectiveness is directly contingent on the skill of the  instructor

The retention rate in virtual schools is impacted by the fact that many of the students are registered for laser specific reasons, bullying in school, expulsion, stay in school until one can drop out, bias against the public schools, and various other temporary issues. This means that by the end of one year in the school the child has a 1 in 3 chance of not returning. Look to this blog for more on this topic.

Dr. Bindig is a full time manager of educational outreach for American Public University System and an instructor for the School of Education. He holds an undergraduate degree from The College of New Jersey and a masters degree in Musicology from Rutgers University. Dr. Bindig received an Ed.D. from Nova Southeastern University with a dual concentration in Educational Leadership and Instructional Technology. He has 32 years of experience as a public school teacher, principal and superintendent in the New Jersey public schools. Dr. Bindig has taught for several online universities as well as serving as a dissertation advisor at Nova Southeastern University. His main focus in educational research is student achievement gains facilitated via technology.

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