Supporters of virtual schools say a new report provides more evidence that Wisconsin’s cap on enrollment needs to be lifted. The study released this week by the Foundation for Excellence in Education highlights ten elements for evaluating the quality of digital learning.
Julie Thompson with the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families says programs here meet most of those, although the state does fall short in one key area. Thompson says Wisconsin needs to make vast improvements in expanding access in digital learning, so students have access to more education options.
The state currently caps virtual school enrollment at 5,250 students. Thompson says demand always exceeds that level, resulting in a waiting list that usually starts at over 1,000 students. She says nearly 200 kids were still on that list before the start of the current school year.
Advocates have long argued that Wisconsin’s enrollment cap on virtual schools is arbitrary and serves no purpose. The report says capacity, not caps on enrollment or budgets, should dictate the size of virtual school programs.
The teachers unions and education officials have fought to keep the cap in place, largely over concerns about lost funding to districts when students participate in distance learning programs.
Thompson says her group is hopeful that lawmakers will renew efforts to lift the cap during the next Legislative session.