Full-Time Virtual and Blended Schools: Enrollment, Student Characteristics, and Performance

This descriptive study by Gary Miron and Najat Elgeberi examines the characteristics of public virtual schools and their student populations in the United States in 2017-2018. During that year, the virtual school student population differed markedly from the national average: a larger percentage of students were White, did not receive free or reduced-price lunch, and were concentrated in high school grades. Virtual schools had almost three times more students per teacher than brick and mortar schools. In terms of accountability standards, less than half of states assigned any virtual school a rating. Moreover, within states that did assign ratings to virtual schools, half of the virtual schools lacked ratings; of those that did receive ratings, 50% were rated as below acceptable school performance in their state. This descriptive study is the first section of a larger work including a review of virtual school research and a set of policy recommendations.

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