Taxpayers send nearly $2 billion a year to cyber schools that let students from kindergarten through 12th grade receive a free public education entirely online.
The schools, many managed by for-profit companies, are great at driving up enrollment with catchy advertising. They excel at lobbying. They have a knack for making generous campaign donations.
But as new state report cards coming out now make clear, there’s one thing they’re not so good at: educating kids.
In state after state, online school after online school posts dismal scores on math, writing and science tests and mediocre scores on reading. Administrators have long explained their poor results by saying students often come to their schools far behind and make excellent progress online, even if they fall short of passing state tests.
But lately, more states have begun measuring how much students actually learn during the school year — and a POLITICO review of the data shows many cyber schools are flunking that test.