Chronic absenteeism isn’t only found in traditional classroom settings. Virtual schools are using formulas to identify online slackers, but the system has faults.

Online education has lots of perks and benefits for students in high school and college, and for the most part, virtual classroom settings are successful. However, online education is not for every student. Highly motivated students tend to the be the most successful, but what about the mediocre student or the student who lacks motivation?

Minnesota’s online school truant officers have devised a mathematical formula that identifies the highly motivated students with high completion rates versus those students who are just going through the motions. Like students who don’t show up to class, the online student who doesn’t log in daily is more likely to dropout.

Habitual truancy laws are clear with absenteeism in face-to-face instruction but the law become sketchy in an online environment. Legal experts question how online attendance is tracked.

Matt Engelking, chief of the juvenile division in the Stearns County attorney’s office, has been hesitant to bring virtual students with high truancy to court because of the uncertainty surrounding the law.

“Engelking said his office has decided it’s best for the students to push the online cases forward and hope the county’s judges don’t throw them out. He said the Legislature needs to update the law so online truants and their families don’t escape consequences.”

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Photo Courtesy: Jim Mone/AP
Minnesota Virtual High School truancy officer Stacy Bender stands outside the school library in Hopkins, Minn., before meeting with students who haven’t been logging into virtual classes enough.