Policy, Technology, and Practice in Cyber Charter Schools: Framing the Issues

Jan. 10, 2011

Source: Teachers College Record,  Volume 113 Number 1, 2011, p. 1-26.
Cyber charter schools (CCSs) have been a particularly controversial form of online school. As CCSs expand, policymakers and stakeholders have a critical need to understand how to evolve the charter school policies that govern these new school forms.

Focus of Study

This article explores what current charter policies govern CCSs.
Furthermore, the paper outlines the practices in these schools that might illuminate future policy needs.
Specifically, the findings highlight how cyber charters problematize existing charter school policies in the areas of authorizers and governance, teacher policy, and student achievement.

Research Design
The study presents an exploratory, comparative case study.
The exploratory analyses illuminate implications for how policymakers understand governance, teacher policy, and the evaluation of student achievement in cyber charters.
The comparative case design also highlights how different state policy contexts might influence the practices of CCSs.


The study shows how state leadership is vital to coordinate student enrollment across geographic boundaries, funding mechanisms, and conflicts between CCSs and established stakeholders.
This article also illuminates how teaching and learning practices differ in an online environment and introduces questions of teacher preparation and professional practices.
Finally, CCSs in this study serve unique, niche student populations that opt out of the traditional school system.

Updated: Oct. 10, 2011