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Full-Time Virtual and Blended Schools: Enrollment, Student Characteristics, and Performance

This sixth NEPC Annual Report on Virtual Education provides a detailed overview and inventory of full-time virtual schools and blended learning, or hybrid, schools. Full-time virtual schools deliver all curriculum and instruction via the Internet and electronic communication, usually asynchronously with students at home and teachers at a remote location. Blended schools combine virtual instruction with traditional face-to-face instruction in classrooms.

Evidence related to inputs and outcomes indicates that students in these schools differ from students in traditional public schools. In particular, school performance measures for both virtual and blended schools indicate that they are not as successful as traditional public schools. Nevertheless, enrollment growth has continued.

Compared to prior years, there has been a shift in source of growth, with more school districts opening their own virtual schools. However, these district-run schools have typically been small, with limited enrollment. Thus, while large virtual schools operated by for-profit education management organizations (EMOs) have lost considerable market share, they still dominate this sector. 

This report provides a census of full-time virtual and blended schools. It also includes student demographics, state-specific school performance ratings, and—where possible—an analysis of school performance measures.