School Choice & Charters Project

Rewarding Failure: An Education Week Investigation of the Cyber Charter Industry

With growing evidence that the nation’s cyber charter schools are plagued by serious academic and management problems, Education Week conducted a months-long investigation into what is happening in this niche sector of K-12 schooling. The result is a deep-dive account of what’s wrong with cyber charters. Education Week uncovered exclusive data on how rarely students use the learning software at Colorado’s largest cyber charter, the questionable management practices in online charters, and how lobbying in scores of states helps keep the sector growing.

This investigation won the 2016 Education Writers Association National Award for Education Reporting, Investigative Reporting: Magazines and Weeklies.

School Choice & Charters Problems With For-Profit Management of Pa. Cybers
To understand how the problems with for-profit management of cyber charters have persisted over time, just look at Pennsylvania.
Benjamin Herold, November 3, 2016
1 min read
School Choice & Charters Outsized Influence: Online Charters Bring Lobbying 'A' Game to States
Savvy lobbying, well-connected allies, and impassioned parents have helped keep online charters growing across states even in the face of often-poor results.
Arianna Prothero, November 3, 2016
25 min read
School Choice & Charters Tracking Attendance in Online Schools
Just 1 in 4 students uses GOAL Academy's learning software each day. Yet the state of Colorado officially reports an 89 percent attendance rate at the school. Why the disconnect?
Benjamin Herold, November 3, 2016
1 min read
School Choice & Charters Cyber Charters vs. 'Multi-District Online Schools'
Across the country, interest is growing in such new types of non-charter management models. But multidistrict online schools have faced some of the same problems that plague cyber charters.
Benjamin Herold, November 3, 2016
1 min read
Families & the Community Online Charters Cause Rift Among Supporters of School Choice
Rising concerns over the management practices and academic quality of virtual charter schools have exposed a deepening divide among some of the nation's most influential supporters of school choice.
Arianna Prothero, November 3, 2016
4 min read
School Choice & Charters From Our Research Center A Virtual Mess: Inside Colorado's Largest Online Charter School
At Colorado's 4,000-student GOAL Academy, just 1 in 4 students uses the learning software each day. The founder helped direct millions of dollars to his for-profit management company.
Benjamin Herold & Alex Harwin, November 3, 2016
38 min read
School Choice & Charters Map: Cyber Charters Have a New Champion in DeVos, But Struggles Continue
Education Week reviewed hundreds of news stories and dozens of state audits that document problems in the sector that date to the early 2000s.
November 3, 2016
Classroom Technology Connections Education: A Defense of Cyber Charters
As part of an 8-month investigation of cyber charter schools, Education Week spoke extensively with senior officials from Connections Education, focusing on the company's response to sector-wide challenges with student engagement.
Benjamin Herold, November 3, 2016
8 min read


Benjamin Herold, Staff Writer
Arianna Prothero, Staff Writer
Maya Riser-Kositsky, Assistant Librarian
Holly Peele, Librarian
Alex Harwin, Research Analyst
Sumi Bannerjee, Web Designer
Nina Goldman, Web Producer
Laura Baker, Creative Director
Gina Tomko, Art Director
Lovey Cooper, Multimedia Intern
Holly Yettick, Director, Education Week Research Center
Charles Borst, Director of Photography
Kevin Bushweller, Assistant Managing Editor
Lesli A. Maxwell, Assistant Managing Editor
Kathleen Kennedy Manzo, Managing Editor
Gregory Chronister, Executive Editor

Vol. 36, Issue 11