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An in-depth look by I-News - a Colorado-based nonprofit investigative news collaborative, Education News Colorado, and KUNC at the state’s online K-12 schools. Topics include: online K-12 school performance, state- and district-level oversight, and for-profit Education Management Organizations, such as K12 Inc.

Report Finds More Virtual K-12 Students Are Falling Behind

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The number of private companies operating full-time online K-12 schools in Colorado and other states continues to grow. Meantime, student performance is declining. That’s according to a new report by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado. 

Gary Miron, an education professor at Western Michigan University and report co-author, says only 27.4 percent of virtual schools in this group met adequate yearly progress standards as defined by the No Child Left behind Act. That’s down a few points compared to the 2009-2010 school year. 52 percent of all privately managed brick and mortar schools reached the same goal.

“The reason why we’re seeing such an interest from for-profit companies is there’s a large margin of profit right now because we don’t have the accountability mechanisms,” he says.

In Colorado, online K-12 schools came under scrutiny last fall for poor student performance and millions earned by for-profit companies. Colorado Senate President Brandon Shaffer has said he plans to introduce legislation to keep a closer watch on the state’s online K-12 schools.

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