May 1, 2018

Gary Miron, (269) 599-7965,
Great Lakes Center, (517) 203-2940,

6th Annual Virtual Schools Report Makes Recommendations to Improve Virtual and Blended Schooling

EAST LANSING, Mich. (May 1, 2018) – A new report, Full-Time Virtual and Blended Schools: Enrollment, Student Characteristics, and Performance, is the sixth in an annual series of research briefs on the fast-growing U.S. virtual school sector. This year's report provides an overview and inventory of full-time virtual and blended learning providers. The report is intended to be a reference work for policy makers, educators, and the public.

Gary Miron, Christopher Shank, and Caryn Davidson, Western Michigan University, authored the research brief for the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder. Alex Molnar, NEPC publications director, serves at the series editor. The Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice funded the report.

In addition to the overview and inventory of virtual and blended learning providers, this year's report also — where data were available — provides an analysis of school performance measures. The available school performance measures indicate that both virtual and blended schools have not been as successful as traditional public schools. Despite this lackluster performance, virtual school enrollment has continued to grow.

The report found evidence that suggests that several factors are key to the poor performance of virtual schools, including large school sizes and large student-to-teacher ratios.

This year's report also finds that a new trend has emerged, with school districts opening their own virtual schools. Despite this trend, large virtual schools operated by for-profit education management organizations (EMOs) still dominate the sector. The report, based on the evidence available, recommends several improvements that policy makers should consider.

In conclusion, the authors state: "Although largely descriptive, this report seeks to provide relevant evidence to inform and guide options that policy makers should consider as they work to address prevalent concerns about the country's virtual school and growing blended school sectors."

Find the report on the web:

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) produced the report with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The report can also be found on the NEPC website:

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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

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