Student Achievement in Elementary and High School

Authored by: Cathy Cavanaugh

Handbook of Distance Education

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  May  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415897648
eBook ISBN: 9780203803738
Adobe ISBN: 9781136635571


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This chapter is a review of research on teaching and learning online by children in elementary and high schools, commonly referred to in the United States as grades K–12. This span encompasses primary and secondary levels from kindergarten to high school graduation. Online learning programs for K–12 students offer instruction and content in the form of synchronous or asynchronous Web-delivered courses, also known as virtual schools. The majority of the U.S. states have statewide supplemental and full-time K–12 online learning programs, and online courses are offered by schools or districts in every state (Watson, Murin, Vashaw, Gemin, & Rapp, 2011), with the most rapid growth occurring in school district-operated and blended programs. The largest publicly funded virtual school programs each enroll over 200,000 students, a scale afforded by the predominant asynchronous Web-based mode of delivery for K–12 distance learning courses (Watson et al., 2011). As of 2007, more than 20% of postsecondary students enrolled in at least one online course (U.S. Department of Education, 2011), and in 2010 that figure had risen to 30% (Allen & Seaman, 2010). Thus far, only 1%–2% of K–12 students have taken online courses (Watson et al., 2011). However, several states have enacted legislation requiring online courses or experience for graduation (Davis, 2011).

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