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Full-time virtual schools deliver education completely online without quality student-teacher interactions in a school environment. The poor performance of our state’s full-time virtual education programs over time demonstrates it is not always an effective approach to digital learning.

How should technology be used in education?

Texas can and should lead efforts to better utilize technology to provide the best educational opportunities for our students. But, we should do so in a way that is thoughtful and ensures the delivery of a high-quality educational experience. Raise Your Hand Texas® supports programs that enhance the capacity of public schools to use technology to personalize learning for every student. Effective personalization requires highly-trained teachers, data-driven instruction, and student ownership over learning. Raise Your Hand’s cornerstone program, Raising Blended Learners® is one example of the effective use of technology.

Full-time virtual programs, however, are not providing a high-quality educational experience for students. Additional state evaluation and oversight are needed to ensure the quality and rigor of coursework and instruction our students deserve.

 

Technology and the Quest for Personalized Education

Comparing Blended Learning and Full-Time Virtual Education

The effective use of technology in Texas public schools has the potential to transform teaching and learning. This brief outlines the differences between full-time virtual schools and blended learning programs and offers evidence as to why blended learning presents the more advantageous strategy with the potential to benefit a greater number of students.

 

Texas Virtual Schools Update:

Majority of Texas Virtual Learners Enrolled in Failing Schools

As of 2015–16, virtual schools in Texas continue to underperform for the majority of students enrolled. Nearly 8,500 students, or 89% of full-time virtual enrollment, are enrolled in the two largest full-time virtual schools that are evaluated under the standard accountability system.

POLICY

Supplemental Virtual Courses

Current law allows all Texas students to access supplemental online courses through the Texas Virtual School Network (TxVSN). These courses provide value for students with special scheduling needs, those seeking specialized courses not available in their district, or students seeking course recovery.

These supplemental courses operate with appropriate monitoring and oversight, since the Texas Education Agency (TEA) approves electronic courses and professional development for online teachers, has fiscal responsibility for the network, and evaluates full-time online schools under the statewide accountability system. Day-to-day operation of the TxVSN is contracted to Education Service Center Region 10, in collaboration with the Harris County Department of Education. To enroll in one of these programs, students must have been enrolled in the prior school year in a public school in Texas.

On average, students enrolled in one or several online courses perform as well as students enrolled full-time in traditional brick and mortar classroom settings.