Virtual charter schools will have to start tracking student attendance in accordance with a new law signed Friday by Gov. Mary Fallin. The proposal arose after Oklahoma Watch revealed last year that all five of Oklahoma’s virtual charter schools reported between 98 and 100 percent attendance last year. Two reported 100 percent.
When school’s out, in summer or afternoon, many parents face a struggle. Research shows that children without access to summer and after-school learning programs can suffer academically, but finding good, affordable ones is an arduous task. Oklahoma provides no state funding, and a federal program could be eliminated.
A divided state Board of Education agreed by a 5-2 vote to sponsor a language immersion charter school in Norman, despite concerns raised by the state superintendent on the school’s likelihood to be successful.
Teachers at Epic Charter Schools can earn up to their base pay in bonuses, making them some of the highest-paid teachers in the state. But students at the virtual school often underperform their public-school peers.
Epic Charter Schools is growing at lightning speed, which its leaders say is proof of its effectiveness. But the trend has raised questions about student turnover and evokes national concerns about the low academic performance of rapidly growing virtual charter schools.
Three years after the governor ordered an investigation into the state’s largest virtual charter school, no charges have been filed. But after an inquiry by a reporter, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said it is now “re-interviewing” people in connection with the probe.