Giving Compass' Take:

• Emily Tate reports that enrollment in virtual schools continues to grow even though research suggests that they aren't - and possibly can't be - as effective as brink and mortar schools. 

• How can funders work to ensure that students get an education that works for them without sacrificing quality? 

• Learn about the need for accountability and oversite in virtual charter schools

The number of K-12 students enrolling in full-time virtual and blended learning schools continues to grow, despite research suggesting that students in these programs do not perform as well as their peers in traditional settings.

In a series of new research briefs, the nonprofit National Education Policy Center (NEPC) challenges the idea that online learning programs can be as effective as traditional schools in delivering individualized instruction to students. And it shows that, for all the flexibility they offer, such programs often come at a cost to student performance.

Enrollment in virtual learning programs is still growing, though not quite as rapidly as it has in recent years, says Michael Barbour, an associate professor of instructional design at Touro University California and a fellow at the NEPC who co-authored the research briefs. In the 2017-18 school year, nearly 300,000 students were enrolled across 501 full-time virtual schools, and an additional 132,000 students were enrolled in 300 blended learning schools—an increase of 2,000 and 16,000 students over the previous year, respectively.

But even as the sector grows, one thing remains constant, Barbour says: “Students in these programs—both full-time online programs and blended schools—tend not to do as well as their brick-and-mortar counterparts.”

Read the full article about enrollment in ineffective virtual schools by Emily Tate at EdSurge.