Sep 28 2013
Idaho’s largest virtual charter school, with approximately 3,500 students, has outsourced student essays to India for review in the grading process.
The revelation that K12 Inc., the world’s largest online charter school provider, sent thousands of student essays overseas was revealed back in 2008 by Arizona blogger David Safier. But it wasn’t until September 2013 that K12 verified at least one Idaho charter school was also involved. After being pressed, K12 admitted that Idaho Virtual Academy (IDVA), Idaho’s largest virtual school and operated by K12 Inc., had outsourced student essays.
“This was a pilot program offered by K12 to give teachers additional support,” said K12 spokesperson Jeff Kwitowski in an email. “Reviewers provided initial feedback, but teachers assigned grades.
Teachers could use the service at their discretion. It was used by some schools, including IDVA, until the pilot was discontinued.”
Records I have obtained indicate that between August and December 2007 IDVA outsourced over 3,000 essays to India. A Sept. 10, 2008, Education Week article reveals K12 eventually settled into a business relationship with TutorVista, a tutoring service in Bangalore, India. In so doing, IDVA may have violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) which protects student work and private information.
K12’s “pilot” project highlights an important issue within for-profit charter schools: adequate oversight. Private companies like K12 are not subject to open meetings laws or public records requests.
Ironically, K12’s website claims, “We must foster a culture of professionalism, service, transparency, accountability….” Difficult to hold a company’s board of directors, CEO’s and shareholders to this standard when their business practices, products and services are considered “proprietary.” There is no reason to believe the “pilot” project would have ever been discontinued had an investigator not unearthed the practice and dragged it into the sunlight of parental scrutiny. The IRS is also investigating. Continue Reading »Share on Facebook