Technology: Are children at risk?

by Carole Hentschel

baby-84626_1280In this post, Carole Hentschel expresses concern about rampant expansion of the use of educational technology for young children.  National Public Radio reported on the health risks for excessive screen time just this morning.  For some, online learning is a solution to looming teacher shortages.  For others, the real issue is one of educational quality.  The truth is that all of these factors deserve close scrutiny.   We cannot be alarmist; nor can we be complacent.  We must be alert.Continue reading

Competency Based Education Questioned

by Laura McCrary

computers-332238_1280Competency based learning is not really new, but it is newly promoted.  Students use computer-based courses broken into chunks of content.  They can move at their own pace within a course and across grade levels.  Strategies vary.  Some programs grant credit for relevant experience.  Some combine online and in class instruction.  Many collect student data which is used to track progress.

The concerns raised relate to quality and intrusive data.  Opponents argue that competency based learning is really a cost saving tool with very questionable quality control.  The federal government supports projects.

We have an online charter high school that uses this approach.  Its graduation rate is about 17%.  We should pay attention.  Read Laura’s comment.

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Academica: For Profit Charter Firm Awards Worthless College Credit

money-40603_1280Academica, the largest charter for profit management firm, strikes again.  This is one of those stories that has sequels.  Last year, I posted a story from the Miami Herald about Doral Academy high school.  It ‘loaned’ $400,000 of public money to Doral College to launch an online dual enrollment program.  Doral College was unaccredited and had no students.  Both the charter high school and the college are operated by Academica. The auditor took exception…again.

 

 

 

 

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Virtual or Vanishing Schools?

virtual school

virtual school

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) released its 2015 report on virtual schools.  As usual there is some good news and some bad news.  The “good news” is that students taking Algebra I and English courses do not do any worse than students in traditional public schools.  What a curious turn of phrase.  In the context of the full report, perhaps it is a warning sign.

One thing is clear.  It is difficult to obtain the comprehensive, valid data that are needed to evaluate the quality of the online education sector.

 

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Come Dream With Me: A Glimpse into What Online Learning Could Be

chrystal-542488_1280I had a glimpse into the future yesterday.  Such a contrast between what is and what could be!  Believe it or not, it was the Senate K12 Education Committee meeting on video.  It started off with a review of the districts’ technology plans.  This past year, the State of Florida administered 4 million tests online.  This year, they will do 5 million.  The infrastructure is there, more or less.

I did not realize that funding for technology was recently incorporated into the FEFP per student allocation.  Thus, the increase is ear marked.  Districts are spending on average, 53% of this technology money for infrastructure.  Thirty one percent goes for assessments, and six percent for professional development.  According to the DOE, this approach is working.

Now for what could be….

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Brevard Schools Proactive on Informing Public about Impact of Testing

by Maria Seemer

The announcement for the Brevard School Board’s legislative platform comes with a series of public information events to explain the need for revisions to K-12 legislation in the upcoming session of the Florida Legislature.  The School Board of Brevard County Legislative Platform details changes in procedures and funding to make a more equitable educational system.  Continue reading