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Accountability for Online Programs in a Public school system - Lee Barratt


How do state organizations authorize high quality online programs and ensure that these schools help in the recovery of drop outs and also attract other interested students needing a different type of educational program.

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Quality standards and standards based curriculum. Authorizing is an issue because student populations are changing. How do we hold districts accountable when accountability measures are based on demographics or a specific target population? Use growth scores for accountability over one year as in PA (investigate their model). CO have open entry/open exit--so they developed three cohorts of enrollment and measure them individually. To use growth models you need multiple years of growth data. Cohort 1 are kids enrolled in spring semester before the fall. Cohort 2 are kids that enroll at the start of the fall semester. Cohort 3 are kids that enroll after October.

Do not use AYP for accountability (our virtual school is a program). Online kids must take the same state assessment as traditional f2f--online kids do not do as well so the state assessment cannot be used as the only accountability measure. Consider looking at other assessments in addition to the state assessment. Best practices are multiple measurements.

Look at the quality measures going in rather than outcomes--applications, students in the online class, standards based curriculum, proctoring of exams, liaison/mentor intervention, etc. Each year online programs must submit reports to Edu Dept in CO--include teacher, curriculum, student, practices--then issue corrective action if accountability standards are not met. The look at programs over a 2-year period.

Some states use EMO providers and rely on them to address accountability issues. CO DOE asks how the content is evaluated and how are the gaps addressed? Teachers are geared to state standards whereas EMOs are not geared to "teach the test." Strongly suggests that we not rely on EMO for standardized curriculum but that districts align curriculum to their own district/state curriculum.

500 hours/credit to write a class. The voice of the teacher comes through in the class and EMOs do not. The EMO is not invested in the class like the district teacher is. Strong suggestion that we write our own courses rather than outsource. DANGER--schools begin cleaning house to meet their own accountability measures and send them to the virtual (alternative placement) school. This may not be an issue as we are not an alternative school--are we? We need to decide if we are going to say no to students entering (this discussion revolved around STATE virtual schools) after a certain date. Many said no--they are required by law to let any student enroll in the virtual school. CO does not let students in the virtual school after the October snapshot. Suggest not letting kids in the door in April--kills teacher who try to address this in 9 weeks. No revolving door for the virtual school--it will become a dumping ground. Suggests policies and procedures for parents. Many say that parents can take on the role of the traditional teacher as far as making sure the kids get online and do their reading/assignments. VS are a loophole for low achievers, discipline problems, etc. Track the student's success, follow through with contract, etc. If they don't do well, then do not allow them to participate again.