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National Report by FSW Researchers Show Completion-Based Funding May Improve Student Success in Online Charter Schools

Nov 30, 2016

NOVEMBER 30, 2016 – FORT MYERS, FLA. – Researchers from Florida SouthWestern State College (FSW) have released the report “Low-Stakes Completion-Based Funding: A New Approach to Financing Competency-Based Education,” as part of a two-year study of new models for funding secondary education, a project led by the National Center for Innovation in Education (CIE) at the University of Kentucky and funded by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.   

The report focuses on New Hampshire’s unique approach to low-stakes completion-based funding (CBF), which funds online charter schools when students complete assignments rather than when they enroll in or attend classes.  New Hampshire is a national exemplar in the move to competency-based education, which eliminates seat time requirements in favor of progression based on student mastery.

“Currently, Florida and Texas use a high-stakes version of the CBF model, where funding is earned after students pass an end of course exam,” said Dr. Larry Miller, lead researcher and dean, FSW School of Education and Charter Schools. “With the low-stakes CBF model used in New Hampshire, funding is earned through completion of assignments and allows for partial funding. The low-stakes CBF model also allows the state to pay only for students that have completed their work and leads to greater emphasis by teachers and administrators in helping students complete assignments, master core competencies and earn credit for courses.”

Recent studies of personalized and blended learning schools resource allocation formulas and school spending patterns showed resemblances to those established in more traditional school systems. However, the CBF model was a notable exception that embodied a fresh take on school funding.

“When education funding is enrollment-based, enrollment levels increase and receive considerable attention from school leaders,” Dr. Miller said. “When completed assignments are funded instead of enrollment, administrators and faculty focus is expected to shift from supporting the recruitment and enrollment process to supporting students completing assignments. The more assignments students complete, the more likely they are to graduate college and career ready.”

“Online charter schools have continued to grow, now serving 250,000 students nationwide,” Dr. Miller said. “However, there has been little innovation by the states. With its low-stakes CBF model, New Hampshire has taken the lead in developing a fiscally responsible method for increasing student success that we hope can be considered for adoption by other states in the future.”

The full report can be found online at


Florida SouthWestern State College is Southwest Florida’s largest and one of the most affordable institutions of higher education. Annually serving nearly 22,000 students globally, FSW offers a variety of nationally-ranked, career-focused academic programs with two- and four-year degrees, and professional certifications. Students are also active in clubs and programs catered to their interests. FSW debuted its intercollegiate athletics program in January 2016. Visit for more information.


Last Updated: November 30, 2016

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