PAR report calls for better virtual schooling in Louisiana

The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana (PAR) has released a new report that examines the phenomenon of online learning for K-12 public schools in our state and makes specific, actionable recommendations to prepare us better for the future. 

Louisiana Virtual: Facing the Reality of Online Schooling is filled with fresh perspectives and illuminating graphics about one of our most critical educational challenges.

The report concludes that Louisiana should make legislative, policy and regulatory decisions that amplify the positive aspects of virtual education while mitigating the failures seen nationally and statewide. Virtual education can be improved with targeted interventions and changes to policy and process in lieu of the more punitive or restrictive actions taken by other states in the past.

“Louisiana is long past the question of whether we should pursue virtual schools. It is now a matter of how we can do it well,” said PAR President Robert Travis Scott. “It is a matter of whether we are willing to objectively identify, collect and share the meaningful data and information points beyond our traditional means of evaluation, even when that challenges our institutions and assumptions about learning.”

Through this report, PAR has made recommendations specific to the Louisiana context that should ultimately lead to increased transparency, more accurate data on student performance, improved student academic outcomes, and a funding structure that sufficiently covers the costs of operating a virtual school while rewarding student achievement. The state should take steps to prevent poor performance as local programs grow and statewide charter schools continue to exist.

The report’s focal point is the two public charter schools that offer K-12 virtual education to students across the state. University View Academy and Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy have been in operation for a decade. Their performance and experience form the centerpiece of this investigation. Their history shows relatively low school letter grades but also shows constant innovation and efforts to improve student academics and engagement.

This report also considers the proliferation of virtual instruction among local school districts in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this evolving context, the PAR report concludes, we have to rethink our methods of oversight, and must provide ourselves a greater level of transparency so that we can evaluate what is working and what is not.

You can read the full report HERE.

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