Report on Florida Virtual School lacks key elements, reviewer states
A recent report lauded Florida Virtual School, suggesting its students might have higher productivity than their traditional school peers.
Not so fast, the National Education Policy Center says.
The Colorado-based organization, which critiques education research, finds fault with some of the methods in the Harvard working paper. It offers three primary criticisms:
- There is no control for the reasons why FLVS students enrolled in their virtual course. ... "If a student being bullied in a brick-and-mortar school transfers to a cyber school, any improved performance may be completely divorced from the technology or delivery method, but rather could be attributable to the face the student is no longer being bullied. While that is a benefit of virtual education, it wasn't what the authors argued or were even researching."
- The report does not take into account the different types of students represented in the two groups.
- The report cannot attribute gains made by FLVS students directly to virtual education.
To sum up, the center concludes:
"The problem with this line of inquiry ... is that it continues to ignore the lessons learned from the broader field of educational technology research. Online learning is simply the delivery medium; gains or losses in student learning derive from how that face-to-face or online learning is designed, delivered and supported. This line of inquiry also ignores the reality that online and blended learning continue to grow. Investigating whether one medium is better than the other serves little practical or academic purpose."