Study: Alternative Schools Like Virtual, Charters Hurt Overall Graduation Rates

May 16, 2016

A new study takes a look at graduation rates among alternative schools like charters and virtual options.
Credit Johns Hopkins University

Charter schools, virtual schools and alternative schools have been held up as positive substitutes for kids who are struggling in a traditional public school setting. Several reports have found that students do as well as or sometimes better in charters. But a new report from Johns Hopkins University finds that success may not be carrying over into graduation rates.
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The report is the result of a partnership between Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at the Johns Hopkins University, along with America’s Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education. It uses the federal government's new education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (which replaced  No Child Left Behind) to examine high school graduation rates in the United States.

Researchers found 52 percent of the nation’s low-graduation-rate high schools are charter, virtual and alternative high schools. And while these schools account for only eight percent of student enrollment, 20 percent of high school students who don't graduate on time attend these schools.

2016 Building a Grad Nation Report

Written annually by Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, and released in partnership with America's Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education, this report examines the progress and challenges the nation faces in reaching the GradNation goal of a national on-time graduation rate of 90 percent by the Class of 2020.

Florida has one of the highest rates of non-graduates in alternative settings.

The study found that among the 200 low-graduation rate high schools in Florida, 49 percent were alternative schools like virtual and charters. Robert Balfanz is a research scientist and co-director of the Everyone Graduates Center at the Johns Hopkins School of Education. He co-authored the study.

Take a listen to what he had to say about the report.