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A Think Twice Review of:

Virtual Schooling and Student Learning: Evidence from the Florida Virtual School

Think Twice - Oct 28, 2014

Publisher/Think Tank - Harvard Kennedy School

Author(s) - Matthew M. Chingos and Guido Schwerdt

A recently released paper from the Harvard Kennedy School attempted to compare the performance of students at the Florida Virtual School (FLVS) to students in traditional brick-and-mortar schools. The paper concluded that FLVS students performed about the same or somewhat better on state tests and at a lower cost.

Reviewer(s) - Michael K. Barbour, Sacred Heart University

The paper claimed to be the first empirical study of K-12 student performance in virtual education. However, in his review, Michael Barbour specifically calls attention to the fact that this paper is not the first, and the report merely “confirms the findings and repeats the methodological flaws and limitations of previous research.” Specifically, Barbour exposes several methodological errors that need to be addressed: (1) a potential bias of student selectivity in the FLVS sample; (2) the potential impact of regression effects, differential mortality in the two groups, and (3) the fact that the virtual environment is simply a delivery medium.