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WSU online education expert comments in article examining student progress at Mass. Virtual Academy

December 17, 2012

Students at a privately operated online school that is costing Massachusetts taxpayers almost $2.5 million a year are falling far behind other students in the state based on their assessment test scores, and half of them are quitting during the academic year or failing to return the next year. State and local records reviewed by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting show that the Massachusetts Virtual Academy, or MAVA, ranked second lowest statewide in its students' progress in math and English based on a measure called the student growth percentile, which compares a given student's MCAS scores over time with those of similar students. "The argument that these schools are enrolling a higher percentage of at-risk students, which is one of the things they claim, isn't actually true," said Michael Barbour, a professor of education at Wayne State University, who studies online learning. "They're working with roughly the same kids as our regular schools, and they're producing results that aren't as good."