Roundup: Virtual School Problems Alleged, Poverty’s Hold Documented

Today’s news includes teachers alleging major problems at K12 virtual schools, and also Texas’ decriminalization of truancy, 48 New York schools that give projects instead of using standardized tests, and a big piece from Chicago’s WBEZ radio about poverty and school performance. 

Teachers allege problems at California virtual schools run by Va.-based company K12 Inc. Washington Post: A group of teachers at a network of California virtual schools has alleged a number of problems with the online operator, including inflated enrollment to increase per-pupil funding; violation of student privacy laws; misuse of federal funds meant to serve poor children; and inadequate services for children with disabilities. See also TeacherBeatEdSource Today.

Virginia Online High School Pilot Is Ahead of the Curve US News: Come this fall, 100 students from across Virginia will have the chance to participate in the commonwealth’s first fully online high school through a pilot program recently announced by state officials. And if the program comes to full fruition after the pilot, it would be the first of its kind in Virginia, and only the second of its kind in the country.

Texas Law Decriminalizes School Truancy AP: Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas has signed into law a measure to decriminalize unexcused absences and require school districts to put preventive measures into effect.

Measuring the Impact of Common-Core Test Disruptions in Three States State EdWatch: A Smarter Balanced testing vendor has released completion rates in three states that had serious challenges giving the common-core aligned exam.

When Research Projects Replace State Tests WNYC: ICE is one of 48 [consortium schools] with a waiver from the state to offer alternatives to most of the five Regents tests required to graduate. Students still must take the English exam but for the others they can provide portfolios or special projects. 

English Class in Common Core Era: ‘Tom Sawyer’ and Court Opinions NYT: The standards, which have been adopted by more than 40 states, mandated many changes to traditional teaching, but one of the most basic was a call for students to read more nonfiction.

Poverty’s enduring hold on school success WBEZ Chicago: Our analysis shows a vast expansion of poverty–2,244 schools have seen their proportion of low-income students increase by at least 10 percentage points over the last decade. And the number of schools struggling with concentrated poverty—where nearly every child in the school is low-income— has ballooned.

Obama’s Competitive Grants Are Waning. Can Districts Keep the Work Going? PK12: Now that the Obama administration’s competitive grant programs are on the wane, can districts sustain the work funded through those efforts?

Washington State’s First Charter School Receives Second Chance EdWeek: Despite declining enrollment and unstable leadership, Washington state’s first charter school has another year to prove that it can provide a sound education for children.

For a Teacher, Back-to-Back Marathons, Then Fourth-Graders NYT: Keila Merino finishes at the top of the pack in grueling 100-mile running races, but teaching in a poor Bronx school may be her greatest challenge.

Alexander Russo

Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.