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Apparently, you have not done your homework. This is our fourth year of Virtual Academy with k12.
Every August 84 lbs of books come UPS for each individual student. Those books include the same books from Harcourt / McMillan/McGrawHill that all the other school children use as reference that have been approved by Teacher Education Agency.
The assignments are just a real as any other course taught in a brick and mortar setting, the daily exams are just as real and the number of standardized tests are four times a year not just annually.
A significantly more rigorous program with a teacher pupil ratio of closer to 1 to 2 rather that at the local school with a teacher pupil ratio of 1 to 30 is easily identifiable by the scores.
There will be a significant deviation of the overall performance due to the disproportionate number of special needs population that were not getting their needs met at the local brick and mortar school and would have done poorly on standardized tests. That should not be the only indicator of progress in either school setting.
Many students are thriving in a more private one on one setting where the student can talk to a certified teacher via skype for an hour if need be when there is a question and not feel rushed by the clock, or intimidated by the rest of the class for being unable to comprehend something that is below grade level.
There may not be a high quality research, but I am confident that while three of my adult children were graduated from the 12th grade without the ability to complete 8th grade algebra, 10th grade English, and one that can only spell her name, but she got a diploma. Now I am paying for that same education at the college level since it was not taught by the certified teachers that had a building and books. Apparently, the lights were on, but no body was home.