Distance Education in the K-12 Setting: How Are Virtual School Teachers Evaluated?

Distance Education in the K-12 Setting: How Are Virtual School Teachers Evaluated?

Christina L. Seamster
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2838-8.ch004
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The evolution of technology over the last century has in many ways changed how teachers teach today. From kindergarten through twelfth grade, students are now able to complete 100% of their schooling online. If novel teaching practices have been established as a result of technology advancements, tools which align with those teaching practices must be produced in order to ensure continued student success. The purpose of this chapter is two-fold; to review teacher practices in K-12 distance education today and to discuss the field of education's need for research in measuring K-12 virtual school teacher effectiveness. The chapter begins with an overview of the history of distance education, followed by an examination of virtual school teacher pedagogy, a brief review of measuring K-12 teacher performance in the traditional and virtual school settings, and a synopsis of current tools for evaluating K-12 virtual school teacher effectiveness. The chapter closes with solutions and recommendation for future research.
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Accurately measuring successful teacher practices is essential to ensuring student success. Teacher effectiveness influences student learning at a higher level than any other school variable, including class size, school size, after-school program quality, or the school itself (Darling-Hammond, 2006; MET Project, 2010). Using daily practice, identified characteristics, and student performance measures, as means of teacher assessment, a complete view of effective virtual school teachers can be accurately reflected (Rice, 2012). According to Ferdig (2010), virtual school teachers are a driving factor in student success in the online setting. Therefore, research has established the importance of effective teachers in both in person and distance settings.

The 1970’s marked the beginning of states working to “regulate learning and teaching by requiring outcomes and attaching incentives to their attainment” (Fuhrman, Cohen, & Mosher, 2007, p. 65). The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reported that African American and Hispanic students achieved higher tests scores after tying incentives to outcomes (Cohen, Moffitt, and Goldin (2007). Subsequently, policy was implemented to influence classroom practices and standards-based reform was born in the mid-1980’s, which, according to Fuhrman et al. (2007) resulted in higher levels of accountability efforts for schools and teachers. Ultimately, policies such as No Child Left Behind (NCLB, 2002) and Goals 2000 (U.S. Department of Education, 1993) were enacted. School Choice, where public funds are used to fund privately run schools, became a way to replace failing schools. In 2010, Race to the Top (The White House, 2010) was implemented to entice states through funding to further implement teacher accountability practices including linking student test scores to teacher evaluations (Gemin, Pape, Vashaw, & Watson, 2015). As an increasing education option and with today’s reform efforts focused on using student data to rate teacher effectiveness, the quality of full time virtual schools and their impact student learning, must be investigated.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Live Lesson: A synchronous form of interaction where students are connected with one another and their teacher through a tool such as Adobe Connect or Blackboard Collaborate.

Digital Citizenship: Acting responsibly in the virtual environment through using technology appropriately.

Learning Management System (LMS): A technology platform accessible from the World Wide Web which allows teachers and students to conduct all day to day learning activities including interacting, monitoring student achievement, and completing assignments both synchronously and asynchronously from a distance.

Online/Distance Learning: “Delivers instruction and content primarily over the Internet. Used interchangeably with Virtual learning, Cyber learning, e-learning. Students can participate in online learning through one course (supplemental), or a fully online school or program” (Ferdig & Kennedy, 2014 AU26: The in-text citation "Ferdig & Kennedy, 2014" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. , p. 4).

Full Time Virtual School Teacher: An instructor that teaches students for the entire duration of a school day and/or individual that is not an adjunct.

Learning Coach: An adult who works with a virtual school student and the student’s teacher, in most cases from the student’s home, to ensure that the student’s academic needs are met.

Full Time Online Students: Students that receive all of their courses in a distance learning environment. Full-time online students do not attend traditional schools.

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