Saturday, February 23, 2013

Online College Courses actually Widen the Achievement Gap. More Virtual School Snake Oil.

After the bad news came in about the failure of K12, one of the biggest “virtual” online schools, we’re now learning the following online college courses are doing more harm than good.

This should make every parent question the effectiveness of all online course work, especially if there’s no teacher present. These online courses never made sense to me as stand alone schools. They seem tailor made for supplementing what's already being taught in the classroom.

I’m posting this because coincidentally the UW-Madison just announced the roll out of these online courses, for free. No harm done you say? It seems to me the university could spend their time and effort on something that works.
jsonline: Low-cost online courses may allow a more diverse group of students to take college classes, but a new study from Columbia University suggests they also could widen achievement gaps, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported this week.

Researchers at Columbia examined 500,000 courses taken by more than 40,000 community- and technical-college students in Washington State. They found that students in demographic groups whose members typically struggle in traditional classrooms struggled even more in online courses, the Chronicle story says.

The study found that all students who take more online courses, no matter the demographic, are less likely to attain a degree. However, some groups—including black students, male students, younger students, and students with lower grade-point averages—are particularly susceptible to this pattern.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison announced this week it will begin offering a handful of massive online open courses (MOOCS) this fall.

The big question is whether MOOCS can successfully educate students without offering direct interaction with faculty.


  1. The ACT/SAT will become the standard assessment for high schools even though it was never designed as an "achievement" test.

    You are part of the problem when you promote the lie of "achievement gap" -- this has nothing to do about what students "achieve" and EVERYTHING to do with unmet learning needs.

    Students that consistently score lower are not having educational needs met -- and public schools, especially madison and milwaukee (but to all others in WI as well) cannot and will not address real learning needs of high-needs students.

    Wisconsin schools are the most racist in America -- your post helps hide the problem and promotes the lie that our public schools (as we know them) work.


    There will be no real change and public schools will be doomed until there is an open and honest dialog that allows discussion of the current dysfunctional school districts, teacher training institutions, DPI, and TEACHER'S UNIONS.

    For every problem in any public or private school that relates to meeting student's needs -- there is a teacher.

    Please don't thoughtlessly dumb down the dialog about schools because you continue to divide us and the corporate interests behind walker use this to conquer.

  2. I just saw a preview of upcoming assessments being launched in spring.


    Other written items will be scored with technology that scans keywords!

    You have legit points -- but your basic premise that public schools work and teachers & their unions are great is way off-base and unhelpful to building strong public schools.

    And they will be privatized if we don't change the dialog to serving student needs which demands some accountability and concessions by teacher's unions.

  3. The story states clearly the affect of the online courses...if you disagree, than maybe you can prove it? But you can't, while ignoring the socioeconomic elements.

    Plus, what makes private teachers and school curriculum different? Lack of accountability. It too has failed over the last 20 years in the Milwaukee experiment.

    You both do a disservice to your arguments by including "unions" as the problem, since they only negotiate the wages and benefits of teachers, and not classroom curriculum. Which is really what this is all about. I never made blanket statements that unions and teachers are great, that argument is just a distraction, since teachers exist in public and private schools.

    Thanks for the heads up on automating spell check and grammar. It doesn't seem possible that that would work.

    Running from fixing failing schools seems to have sold both of you on the for profit privatization agenda. It says run from solutions. I don't know, my generation didn't do so poorly.

    Improving education is a forever thing. You, and many conservatives, always look past what has worked so well in the top rated countries in the world. Until that changes, your talk of "accountability," which by the way private schools are fighting, is empty rhetoric.

    "Anonymous" doesn't help your cause either. Put your name or handle on your opinions. Thanks for the immediate feedback.

  4. LOL

    I'm not a conservative and you are not more important because you hide behind a blog name.

    People like you divide and the conservatives conquer.

    And then you make it about the handle I choose to use or not to use.

    You don't get it and the mindless union and public schools doesn't help.

    And I don't care if you think I undermine my cause becuase I'm, you know, anonymous and don't pretend to lead the parade.


    And your mindless cheerleading that certain union groups have a "workers right" to crush other workers and children won't get any traction.

    Proudly anonymous cuz I don't pretend to have all the answer and be the most important "progressive" voice out there.

    When you leave room at the table for others, maybe we will make some progress.

    YOU are the one promoting the most racist school systems in America -- but as long as its a pro-union thing, you think it's kewl.

  5. How dare you use your experience in public schools as a "my generation" thing -- just more proof you don't get it.

    Wisconsin has had some of the most racist schools in America for generations -- hence the highest incarceration and poverty rates for African American males.

    Things were not "just fine" when you were in school.

    I went to plenty of kids that were under-served and got a poor education. I was under-served myself, but eventually got my head around it and excelled in post secondary school.

    But I had to let go of all the crap that was drilled in my head by union teachers and public schools.

  6. Wow, got some serious high dudgeon going on here. Not sure why these folks (or folk, all the comments seem to flow in a similar vein) are so upset, they're getting what they want and we'll see how it goes.
    I don't have an interest here, my kids are out of school and I've seen both the good and the bad when it comes to teachers. I can only assume that by setting up Wisconsin with lower paid (by salary cut, benefit cut, whatever) and less protected teachers - public, private or charter - we will have the unintended consequences which should be obvious to anyone willing to take a look five, ten and fifteen years ahead.
    Yes, this is absolutely the profession that our young people will be clamoring to get into in the next few years. Respected, stable, the kind of job you can build a future on and be proud of. We should have a glut of teachers for years to come.

  7. 1. I never called anyone conservative, I just said you think like one...which would make you a conservative.

    2. I never mentioned support for any group, except for public education and teachers, not private for profit bottom feeders. I don't like running from a problem like you.

    3. "Racist school systems?" What in gods name are you talking about. I really don't know. You people are all over the map as usual.

    4. To the "under served," education made you see the light and turn things around for you. Oh, and you're disconnect or laziness in school didn't have anything to do with your performance in class, did it. It's never really your fault, it's the teachers drilling education into your head. Evil.

    5. How dare I compare my days in school to my kids? Free country loser. School today is light years beyond my experience, with better researched curriculum. I'm amazed at my kids progress and the way teachers bend over backwards to help with my concerns. You really don't have a clue.

    6.'re right of course. Turning a profession into a disrespected teaching job can't be too beneficial. I'm doing everything I can to get my kids through before the bottom completely drops out. My youngest is in 6th next year. I fear time is running out though.