Idaho’s largest charter school, the online Idaho Virtual Academy, has confirmed that it sent student essays to India for grading in 2007, Boise State Public Radio reports this morning. The 3,000-student public virtual school contracts with K12 Inc., a for-profit company, for its curriculum and management; K12 Inc. spokesman Jeff Kwitkowski told the public radio station, “It was a pilot program designed to help teachers provide more assistance on reviewing papers. It was six years ago, it was a short pilot program and it ended soon thereafter.”
Other reports suggest more than 3,000 IDVA students’ essays were sent to India, BSPR reports. Though it’s several years old, the matter has gained new attention in Idaho since Travis Manning, a Caldwell teacher, penned an op-ed piece about it published in several Idaho newspapers and online news outlets this fall. Manning told BSPR that after running across references to the 2007 incident, “I thought to myself, huh, I don’t remember this story ever breaking in Idaho about any Idaho online schools outsourcing student essays overseas.”
The public radio station reported that while the matter remained low-profile, Idaho’s Public Charter School Commission wrote to IDVA inquiring about it in 2008, raising concerns about possible violations of student privacy laws. You can read BSPR’s full report here, and Manning’s op-ed here at Idaho EdNews.