Online learning could drastically expand, as all of Iowa’s 333 school districts would be allowed to have an online program under legislation passed by the House. Nationally and within Iowa, student achievement results from on-line courses drastically lag regular classroom taught classes.
Particularly, results from Michigan and Colorado have shown school performance measures that show virtual online classes are less successful than traditional classes. In Iowa, there are two online schools, CAM and Clayton Ridge, and the number of students that returned to those schools after the previous year remains very troubling. CAM only had 60.5% return from the previous year, while Clayton Ridge had only 51.3% return. Full results from the Iowa programs can be found at the Report of Virtual Schools: https://www.educateiowa.gov/sites/files/ed/documents/Virtual%20Schools%20Legislative%20Report%202018.pdf
Currently, school funding including property taxes follows a student to an online school if a student open enrolls to that district. Most of that funding is then sent to one of the online, out-of-state private companies that run the programs for CAM and Clayton Ridge.
Besides the drain of public school funding, opponents of the bill argued advertising and promotion campaigns will be used and drain resources that should be spent on education kids. Parents could also be caught in the middle as local school districts vie for kids to open enroll to their online program with advertising and promotions. Nothing in current law or the bill prevents advertising or promotion by school districts for students to open enroll to another district.
After passing the Senate last year, the bill has now passed the House late in the Session. The bill now goes back to the Senate for consideration.