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Turning up - and out - the degrees

Many of us in the Boomer generation took the traditional route through education: graduate from high school and then off to college: maybe a two-year degree, maybe a four-year degree. But with education costs skyrocketing and the rest of life not always offering an easy path, institutions are beginning to offer realistic and creative options for eager learners to integrate their “life learning” into their college education.

Online universities, independent learning options, and assessments of education through life experience can translate into earned credits and eventually a degree. Finally, some common sense and wisdom applied to institutions of higher learning.

(S-R archives photo)

K12 virtual school students lag behind, report says

Students taking online classes from K12 Inc. in four states, including Idaho, are lagging in test scores and graduation rates compared to students in traditional schools, according to a new study by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder. The study "raises enormous red flags," center director Kevin Welner told the Associated Press. K12 Inc. is the nation's largest for-profit online education provider, and it runs Idaho's largest charter school, the Idaho Virtual Academy, a state-funded online charter school that enrolls nearly 3,000 Idaho children across the state in kindergarten through 12th grade. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Jessie Bonner.

Note: The Idaho Statesman has a story today questioning the study's application to Idaho, as Idaho math and reading assessment results weren't out yet when the center did its analyses and therefore were missing from the study; Welner apologized to the Statesman and told the newspaper, "Idaho is not a focus of the achievement-outcome analyses." The AP report on the data issues is included with the original article below.

K12 Inc., operator of two Idaho virtual charter schools, sued by shareholders

K12 Inc., the Virginia-based public virtual school operator, has been sued in federal court in a shareholder class-action suit charging that the company violated securities laws by making false statements to investors about its students' performance on standardized tests, the Washington Post reports. The newspaper also reports that the firm's stock has plummeted since a series of reports in the Washington Post, New York Times and elsewhere in recent months raising questions about the effectiveness of its online virtual schools; you can read the Post's full report here. K12 operates the Idaho Virtual Academy and the iSucceed Virtual High School in Idaho; K12 Inc. is the nation's largest provider of proprietary curriculum and online education programs for students in kindergarten through high school.

16YO Earns WSU Degree Online

Not only will 16-year-old Kayla Heard be the youngest Washington State University graduate on record at Saturday’s commencement, but she earned her entire bachelor’s degree without ever visiting campus. “That’s rare,” said Randy Spaulding, Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board’s director of academic affairs, remarking on both details. “I think the fact that she never had to step foot on campus is a little unusual, but we will see more and more of that.” Heard is not typical – she started reading before age 2 and graduated from high school at 10 years old, earned her Associate of Arts degree at 13 and now a bachelor’s. The teen has already passed her law school admissions test and plans to earn a law degree online/Jody Lawrence-Turner, SR. More here.

Question: Is Superintendent Luna right? Is this the future?