Advancing a Free Society

In Praise of Performance Pay—for Online Learning Companies

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Whether you consider yeserday’s New York Times article on a “hit piece” (Tom Vander Ark) or a “blockbuster” (Dana Goldstein), there’s little doubt that it will have a long-term impact on the debate around digital learning. Polls show that the public and parents are leery of cyber schools, and this kind of media attention (sure to be mimicked in local papers) will only make them more so.

But just as these criticisms aren’t going away, neither is online learning itself. The genie is out of the bottle. So how can we go about drafting policies that will push digital learning in the direction of quality?

This is something we at Fordham are thinking a lot about, and we’ve published three papers (so far) in our series, Creating Sound Policy for Digital Learning: Rick Hess on quality control; Paul Hill on funding; and Bryan and Emily Hassel on teachers. And in January, we’ll publish an analysis by the Parthenon Group of what high-quality fulltime online learning really costs.

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