What does online learning really cost? Can it, in fact, be both better in terms of improving student achievement and overall less expensive than traditional bricks and mortar schools? These fundamental questions are what the Fordham Institute’s new paper, “The Cost of Online Learning”, gamely tries to tackle. In short, paper shows that online learning has the potential to save education money while also improving the quality of instruction available to students.
The Parthenon Group (the national research firm that helped craft Ohio’s winning Race to the Top application) provided the research. They conducted more than 50 interviews with entrepreneurs, policy experts and school leaders across the country to come up with “an informed set of estimates regarding the cost of virtual and blended schools” across five categories – labor (teacher and administrators), content acquisition, technology and infrastructure, school operations, and student support.
Using these five categories as the basis of comparison the researchers compared a “typical” traditional model (brick and mortar school where instruction is delivered by teachers), a “typical” blended model (students attend brick and mortar schools where they alternate between online and in-person instruction) and a “typical” full virtual model (all instruction takes place online). In blended schools like Carpe Diem, Rocketship, and KIPP Empower, technology is used as a tool to personalize instruction for students who spend part of their time in traditional classroom settings and part of their time learning through varied and personalized forms of digital learning opportunities. In contrasts, virtual models like Florida Virtual School, Connections Academy, and K-12 offer online instruction that
STEM education in Ohio is a growing component of the state’s K-12 system. Metro Early College High School opened as a STEM school in Columbus in 2007, and since then STEM schools have opened their doors in metro regions like Dayton, Cincinnati, Akron, and Cleveland. The schools have drawn millions of dollars in support from state government, local school districts, the private sector and philanthropy (see here for details).
So far, however, the state’s STEM network has not yet opened a school that is aimed at the state’s dynamic agricultural sector and all that supports it. Senator Chris Widener (a Republican from Springfield who chairs the Senate Finance Committee) hopes to tackle this void in the state’s STEM sector. There is a whole lot of merit to this effort.
As I learned (somewhat surprisingly) in talking with Sen. Widener, one in seven jobs in Ohio is connected to the “AgBioscience” sector. This sector comprises food, agriculture, environmental, and bio-based products industries. As a whole the sector employs about a million workers statewide with an annual economic impact of over $100 billion a year. It is one of Ohio’s fastest growing sectors with thousands of jobs going unfilled because there aren't enough skilled Ohioans to do the work. Consider the following statistics provided last week by Sen. Widener:
has added on average 59 new bioscience companies a year since 2004, and
the state is currently home to 1,300 such companies. These include Bob
Category: Charters & Choice
WILD AND WACKY POLITICAL BATTLES
Since their inception in 1997, charter schools have been at the center of some of the most politically contentious debates about education in Ohio. The past year offered yet another example of charter school controversy, but this time with a twist. The 2010 elections were very good for Buckeye State Republicans, with John Kasich winning the governor’s race (replacing Ted Strickland who had been a charter adversary throughout his four-year term). Republicans also took control of the House while expanding their majority in the Senate.
Almost immediately GOP lawmakers set out to make the Buckeye State more inviting to charter schools. Governor Kasich’s budget proposals in House Bill (HB) 153 offered a solid plan for not only increasing the number of charters in Ohio but improving their quality. Crucial elements included encouraging successful operators to clone good schools; leaning hard on authorizers to fix or close failing schools and banning the replication of failure; placing schools’ ostensibly independent governing boards in clear charge of any outside organizations that they engaged to run their education programs; creating professional and ethical norms for all parties; insisting on transparency around academics, governance, and finances; channeling fair funding into successful schools; and introducing best practices and expert advice into every step of the process. This was a vision that excited us and many others in Ohio and beyond because it sought to boost quality, not just quantity.
It seemed at
The Columbus Dispatch ran competing op-eds by School Choice Ohio's (SCO) Chad Aldis and Fordham's Terry Ryan on the expansion of vouchers in the Buckeye State. Both Aldis and Ryan support the expansion of school choice programs in Ohio, but how the state should hold these new programs accountable for their academic performance and even whether it should do so is contentious.
Ohio's House Bill 136(Huffman) would create the Parental Choice and Taxpayer Saving Scholarship Program (PACT), a private school scholarship program open to all students statewide whose families meet a maximum income threshold, regardless of whether their home district is failing or not. PACT would award up to $4,563 per child to families with annual household incomes up to $65,000 for a family of four, and could affect every school district in the state. The breadth of this proposed voucher program as well as the fact that Ohio currently has three other voucher programs and a myriad of other school choice options such as charter and on-line schools, is turning the debate over HB 136 into somewhat of a school choice war.
SCO's Chad Aldis made the philosophical case for the expansion of vouchers when he penned that
?As parents, we want the best for our children, and we make choices every day to achieve that. We choose the food they eat, the doctors they see, the amount of television they watch. Our choices help shape the people they become.