Gaming the system, no matter which system, is a sport for some. For others, it is a survival mechanism. The Florida school accountability system is high stakes, and accusations of manipulating data occur frequently. If you want a school to receive a high grade, then the easiest approach may be to ensure the school attracts the best students and discourages those who struggle. So, what then happens to struggling students?
ProPublica has one example of what is done in Orlando, Florida. The authors argue, and provide data, that at least one of the district’s public and for profit online alternative charter schools are in cahoots. This may be a little strong, but the mutual advantage is clear. It is also clear that the Florida accountability system is inadequate to track how students are ‘counseled in or out of schools’.
Orlando is not the only district with online charter ‘alternative’ schools. Many of these schools exist with the express purpose of providing students with options for credit retrieval when they fall behind in their studies. Students who leave a traditional or regular charter may withdraw in order to attend an alternative school. On paper, these students are not ‘dropping out’; they are transferring. Yet, when they arrive at a room full of computers with little or no instruction, they are likely to just disappear. See how it works and why it is tolerated.