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September 26, 2017

Free Online Public School Classes: Don’t Trust Them


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SCOTT WOODRUFF Contact attorney for Idaho

Twin Falls School District is now offering homeschool students free public school classes online.

Parents should be aware that these types of programs have encountered severe criticism.

After donating millions of dollars to online public school programs, in 2015 the Walton Foundation commissioned a study to see how the students were doing. The results were bad beyond belief. Here is what the foundation said (emphasis ours):

“[The] study found that over the course of a school year, the students in virtual charters learned the equivalent of 180 fewer days in math and 72 fewer days in reading than their peers in traditional charter schools, on average. This is stark evidence that most online charters have a negative impact on students’ academic achievement … . Funders, educators, policymakers, and parents cannot in good conscience ignore the fact that students are falling a full year behind their peers in math and nearly half a school year in reading, annually. For operators and authorizers of these schools to do nothing would constitute nothing short of educational malpractice.”

A typical school year only consists of 180 days. If a student in one of these programs learns the equivalent of 180 fewer days in math than a student in another school, that means he has learned, in effect, zero days.

I occasionally hear critics casually repeat the groundless claim that homeschool parents don’t teach their children anything. Now here is solid evidence that public-school-at-home programs do literally nothing for their students in math. Free online public school classes, such as the ones now offered by Twin Falls, may in fact be very costly.