6. CYBER CHARTER SCHOOLS

An Alternative to Traditional Brick-and-Mortar Schooling?

Victoria Raish and Ali Carr-Chellman

Abstract

This chapter presents a case study of Pennsylvania cyber charter schools, or charter schools whose coursework is delivered primarily via the Internet. The origins and legislative context of cyber charters is explored, along with evaluation and research studies on their effectiveness, issues surrounding how they are funded, and the legal and ethical issues they raise. The chapter concludes with recommendations for future research on cyber charters.

Discussion Questions

1. The emergence of statewide cyber charter schools means that choice of school is no longer limited by geographic barriers. What implications does this have for policies and laws written for cyber charter schools?

2. What are some of the major issues that you see surrounding cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania? How would you suggest designing a possible solution to one of the issues?

3. The authors argue that there needs to be more transparency and accountability for cyber charter schools. Do you agree or disagree? Justify your views.

4. What are some of the ways that cyber charter schools can be of benefit to the goal of public education for the public good? What are some of the ways that they can undermine this goal?

5. What are the financial implications for local school districts when cyber charter schools are successful in recruiting students residing within their attendance boundaries? How do you think this will impact the decisions at traditional brick-and-mortar public schools to retain students and respond to parent needs?

Additional Resources

Beck, D. E., Maranto, R., Lo, W-J. (2014). Determinants of student and parent satisfaction at a cyber charter school. The Journal of Educational Research, 107(3), 209-216. Doi: 10.1080/00220671.2013.807494

Lin, M. (2011). School quality in the cloud: Guidelines for authorizing virtual charter schools. Authorizing matters, Issue brief. Cyber series. National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NJ1).

Miller, N. J. (2012). The perceptions of district leaders of cyber charter schools in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Retrieved from Penn State University ETD.

Moran, A. (2014). Keeping them honest: Proactively preventing fraud in Pennsylvania’s cyber charter schools. Temple Law Review, 86(2). Retrieved from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2488496

Waters, L. H., Barbour, M. K., Menchaca, M. P. (2014). The nature of online charter schools: Evolution and emerging concerns. Educational Technology & Society, 17(4), 379-389. Retrieved from http://www.ifets.info/journals/17_4/26.pdf

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