Erin Dillon and Bill Tucker on Online Learning

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Dillon and Tucker weigh in on virtual learning at Education Next. The Ed Sector duo make a number of good points drawing from the experience of the charter school movement.

I am especially struck by the problem they point to in determining appropriate funding levels for virtual schools. An education savings account funding method for virtual schooling would create a market mechanism for determining cost per course, driving productivity gains. If given the wrong set of incentives, providers will have their profits determined by the success and failure of their lobbying efforts rather than by parental demand.

Of course, high-quality and free online learning tools have appeared on the scene.  Public funding schemes could limit development if compensation systems are not carefully considered.

One Response to Erin Dillon and Bill Tucker on Online Learning

  1. Daniel Earley says:

    “. . . states are struggling to determine the proper per-student funding level for both virtual courses and schools. Without a means to determine value—how additional dollars spent affect student outcomes—states default to either the standard per-pupil funding, or increasingly, decide that virtual schools should cost less and choose an arbitrary funding level. More spurious are the attempts to audit providers and pay only for the “true costs” of virtual education, eliminating any incentive for productivity gains.”

    Indeed, not a pretty picture.

    However, you are again modest in noting the comprehensive elegance of your solution–especially given that all the distorted incentives end up restored to their proper places automatically. Of course, modesty is a virtue.

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