Report: Students did little work at Cincinnati’s online school

Some changes are in store for students who have signed up for Cincinnati’s Virtual High School, because many of the school’s students did little or no work last year, according to an Associated Press (AP) report.

The school was touted as an innovative learning approach when it opened last year. But it had no way of tracking how often students logged into the school’s computer system, and until midyear the school lacked a policy for ousting students who weren’t working.

When officials saw how little some students accomplished, the school dropped 410 students—more than 90 percent of its first-year enrollment, AP reported.

“To be successful, a student must be self-disciplined enough to come to the school or to do work online regularly,” Principal Steven Hawley said. “For the most part, that did not happen.”

Donte Dukes, 20, who enrolled last school year, said he was told he could work at his own pace. “Some people can be disciplined enough to come,” he said. “Not me.”

The school was designed to reach high school students or dropouts up to age 22, most of whom had failed elsewhere. Once enrolled, students did not have to report to the school building but were told they could work on home computers or wherever they could find internet access.

Enrollment grew so quickly, it became unwieldy and prevented adequate tracking, teachers said.

“Raising student achievement among teenagers who have serious academic deficits is very possible given in-depth and detailed planning,” said Sue Taylor, president of the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers. “Unfortunately, such planning did not occur prior to the opening of the Virtual High School.”

The school received $2.1 million in state and local funds last year based on enrollment of 448 students, district treasurer Michael Geoghegan said. This school year’s budget is based on a projection of 400 students.

The school now will require weekly meetings with teachers, Hawley said. Most students now will be required to attend school 90 minutes once a week, and new students will have to take a computer literacy course.

“It has been a growing year, and we’re going to work to revise [the program],” spokeswoman Jan Leslie said. “I think our goal here is a good goal, to try to meet the needs of kids [whom] we have not been successful with in other ways.”

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at