Content Provider For Idaho’s Largest Charter School Fares Poorly In New Study

Jul 18, 2012

Editor's Correction:  We originally reported that K12 owns Idaho Virtual Academy. This was reflected in the original headline and in the first paragraph. "The company that owns Idaho’s largest charter school has a weak academic record.This is not correct. K12 does not own Idaho Virtual Academy but it does provide lesson materials.

A new study says the company that provides the lesson material to Idaho’s largest charter school has a weak academic record. K12 Inc. is the nation’s largest online education provider. In Idaho the Idaho Virtual Academy, which boasts nearly 3,000 full time students, is part of the K 12 family.

The study comes from the National Education Policy Center. Its principle author, Gary Miron says K12 Inc. schools across the country have test scores significantly lower than traditional public schools or brick and mortar charter schools. 

“Students in the virtual schools are considerably behind in math and as they progress in grades they get farther and farther behind in math," Miron says. "So that by the high school grades they’re actually 36 percentage points behind the state average.”

The Idaho Virtual Academy fares better. It passed the state’s basic requirements last year, known as adequate yearly progress. Fewer than 30 percent of K12 Inc. schools made AYP in their states. Plus IVA 10th graders scored close to state averages on reading, math and language skills. But Miron says IVA shares the basic flaws of K12’s model.

“They’re being funded in a way that provides an incentive to enroll as many as possible, receive funding for those students and we’ll see later on if they stick around.”

And Miron says students are not sticking around. The NEPC study says K12 Inc. schools have lower graduation rates than the state’s in which they operate and all have high student attrition rates. The head of the Idaho Virtual Academy declined to comment, saying she needed more time to study the report.  

Copyright 2012 Boise State Public Radio