The title and subtitle tells us what the article is about.
Online High Schools Test Students’ Social Skills
As Digital Learning Programs Grow, Educators Hope to Prevent Teens From Feeling Isolated
Online high schools are growing more popular. Roughly 100,000 of the 12 million high-school-age students in the U.S. attend 438 online schools full-time, up from 30,000 five years ago, according to the International Association for K-12 Learning Online, a Washington nonprofit representing online schools. Many more students take some classes online, while attending traditional schools. The National Center for Education Statistics, part of the U.S. Department of Education, says 1.5 million K-12 students were home-schooled in 2007, a figure that includes some who attended online schools. That is a 36% increase from the 1.1 million in 2003.
The part that caught my eye was how homeschooling was used in this line of reasoning:
Most online high schools are relatively young, and there has been little research on cyber students’ academic performance or social adaptation. But education experts say that studies looking at home-schooling suggest that students educated in nontraditional environments perform as well academically as their peers at conventional schools.
“When you look at home-school students compared to public or private school students, we have some reliable evidence to show that students are doing about the same but not better [in home school],” said Luis Huerta, a professor of public policy and education at Teachers College at Columbia University.
Researchers affiliated with home-schooling cite their own studies showing that home schoolers outperform their conventionally educated counterparts on standardized tests.
So readers are reassured that, as public education moves towards online schooling, we do not have to be afraid because homeschoolers are academically normal. I would argue we are ahead of the curve on thinking about kids and learning. But, isn’t it implied by this reassurance that homeschoolers are leading the way?
From this piece in the WSJ to a recent WaPo piece on a longer school year, the language surrounding reform has a familiar ring. The big difference is on the substance of assessment. Too bad so much effort and emphasis was put into those “researchers affiliated with home-schooling” who purposefully tied us to outperforming “conventionally educated counterparts on standardized tests.” If the same amount of effort had been expended on the message that we should trust parent and children with their own education we would be in much better shape to handle the push for Common Core Standards that will help drive a new round of reform.
I purposefully skipped the headline issue because concern about socialization is such a non-homeschooling issue. If you haven’t resolve the socialization issue for yourself the comments to Glader’s story are interesting. You can also search this site for more thoughts on the subject. Here is a place to start: The “S” Word.