American High Schools Increasingly Embrace Online Education!

Dear Commons Community,

My colleague, Jeff Seaman (Babson College  Survey Research Group) and I have just finished a study of online learning entitled,    Class Connections: High School Reform and the Role of Online Learning.  Below is a blurb from the press release that provides key findings.  The full copy of the report is available at:



Babson College Survey Research Group

Press Release – September 22, 2010

Online education is increasingly being embraced by American high schools according to a new study by the Babson Survey Research Group, Using data collected from a national sample of over 400 high school principals, the study found that these administrators see online learning as meeting the diverse needs of their students whether through advanced placement, elective college courses, or credit recovery.  The major reason cited for online and blended offerings is to provide courses that otherwise would not be available.

Study coauthor Anthony G. Picciano of The Graduate Center and Hunter College at the City University of New York noted the critical importance for online education among the smaller and rural schools.  “High schools in all locales are facing serious challenges, but rural schools probably have the most difficulty.  Online and blended learning are a critical part of the strategy they are employing to deal with limited tax bases, low enrollments, and difficulty in attracting and keeping certified teachers,” he said.

Concerns that online learning is not as effective as face-to-face instruction remain, yet high school administrators see benefits to online learning programs that overshadow concerns about pedagogical value — the vast majority of their schools are moving forward with their programs and looking to expand them in the future.

Other key findings include:

• Credit recovery (for students to make up courses that they did not complete) is the most popular type of online course being offered at the secondary level.

• Urban high schools, which historically have the lowest graduation rates, are embracing online credit recovery as a basic part of their academic offerings.

• High school administrators consider online elective college-level courses as an effective means for the more able students to begin their college careers.

• Survey respondents report that offering online and blended courses makes financial sense when trying to meet specific needs for small groups of students.

• Rural schools are in the vanguard in offering online and blended learning programs to their students— using online courses to overcome significant problems in funding, teacher certification, and small enrollments.

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