Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2014: Politics, Performance, Policy, and Research Evidence

The National Educational Policy Center, Bolder Colorado, released its second annual report in a series on virtual education is organized in three major sections. Section I examines the policy and political landscape associated with virtual schooling and describes the current state of affairs related to finance and governance, instructional program quality, and teacher quality. The authors analyze to what extent, if any, policy in the past year has moved toward or away from the 2013 recommendations.

BOULDER, CO (March 4, 2014) Full-time virtual schools continue to have serious problems with respect to education quality, diversity, accountability, and funding, according to a new national study published today by the National Education Policy Center.

Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2014: Politics, Performance, Policy, and Research Evidence is the second in a series of annual reports from the NEPC on the full-time online education sector. The 2014 report looked at 338 virtual schools operating in 30 states as part of local or state public education systems.

“Full-time K-12 online learning is growing exponentially. Many policymakers praise it, and taxpayer money supports it,” says the report’s editor, Professor Alex Molnar of the University of Colorado Boulder, where the NEPC is housed at the CU Boulder School of Education.

“And yet, there has been little high-quality research to support the claims that justify its rapid expansion.”

Examining several sources of data, the report found virtual schools enroll 248,000 elementary and secondary students in 39 states and the District of Columbia, up 21.7 percent from 2011-2012.

Download the entire report at

The report was prepared by Alex Molnar, Jennifer King Rice, Luis Huerta, Michael K. Barbour, Gary Miron, Sheryl Rankin Shafer, Charisse Gulosino, and Brian Horvitz.

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