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 Pub Number  Title  Date
REL 2017228 Summary of research on online and blended learning programs that offer differentiated learning options
This report presents a summary of empirical studies of K-12 online and blended instructional approaches that offer differentiated learning options. In these approaches, instruction is provided in whole or in part online. This report includes studies that examine student achievement outcomes and summarizes the methodology, measures, and findings used in the studies of these instructional approaches. Of the 162 studies that were reviewed, 17 met all inclusion criteria and are summarized in this report. The majority of the studies examined blended instructional approaches, while all approaches provided some means to differentiate the content, difficulty level, and/or pacing of the online content. Among the blended instructional approaches, 45 percent were designed to support differentiation of the in-class component of instruction. The majority of studies examining these approaches compared student performance on common standardized achievement measures between students receiving the instructional approach and those in comparison classrooms or schools. Among the most rigorous studies, statistically significant positive effects were found for four blended instructional approaches.
2/28/2017
REL 2017177 Academic outcomes for North Carolina Virtual Public School credit recovery students
This report describes the results of a REL Southeast study comparing short- and longer-term student successes after completion of online credit recovery courses compared to student successes after completion of other credit recovery options, such as traditional face-to-face courses and summer school courses. Credit recovery refers to when a student fails a course and then retakes the same course to earn high school credit. This research question was motivated by the growing importance of online learning in traditional public school settings and a desire on the part of many stakeholders to understand better how students are adjusting to that transition. The data for this study covered eleven core high school courses (courses required for graduation) taken between 2008/09 and 2011/12 in North Carolina. The study compares the likelihood of a student: (a) succeeding on the state end-of-course test for the recovered course; (b) succeeding in the next course in a recovered course sequence (for instance, in English II after English I); (c) remaining in school after credit recovery; and (d) graduating and graduating on time. Results suggest that there was little difference between the short-term success rates of students who completed state-supported online credit recovery and students who completed other credit recovery options. However, on measures of longer-term success, students who completed state-provided online credit recovery courses and did not subsequently drop out were more likely than other credit recovery students to graduate on time. Among credit recovery participants in state-provided online courses, Black students were less likely to reach proficiency in their recovered courses but more likely than their peers to succeed in later coursework after their online experience. Because of limitations in the analyses possible with available data, it is not possible to directly attribute these outcomes to participation in online credit recovery, but the results do point toward intriguing and potentially beneficial areas for future, more rigorous study.
10/25/2016
NFES 2016096 Forum Guide to Education Data Privacy
The Forum Guide to Education Data Privacy was developed as a resource for state and local education agencies (SEAs and LEAs) to use in assisting school staff in protecting the confidentiality of student data in instructional and administrative practices. SEAs and LEAs may also find the guide useful in developing privacy programs and related professional development programs.
7/7/2016
REL 2016157 Stated Briefly An analysis of student engagement patterns and online course outcomes in Wisconsin
This "Stated Briefly" report is a companion piece that summarizes the results of another report of the same name. The purpose of the study was to identify distinct patterns—or trajectories—of students' engagement within their online courses over time and examine whether these patterns were associated with their academic outcomes in the online course. The study used data collected by Wisconsin Virtual School's learning management system and student information system, including 1,512 student enrollments in 109 online elective, core, and Advanced Placement high school courses. Group-based trajectory modeling was employed to estimate the number and shapes of engagement patterns evident in the sample, and hierarchical linear modeling assessed the associations between engagement group membership and course outcomes, controlling for demographic characteristics. Analyses revealed six distinct patterns of student engagement in online courses. Students with relatively low but steady engagement had better outcomes than students with similar initial engagement that diminished throughout the course. Overall, students engaging two or more hours per week had better online course outcomes than students who engaged less than two hours per week.
7/6/2016
REL 2016147 An analysis of student engagement patterns and online course outcomes in Wisconsin
Student enrollment in online courses has increased over the past 15 years and continues to grow. However, there is much that is not known about students' educational experiences and outcomes in online courses. The purpose of the study conducted by REL Midwest in partnership with the Virtual Education Research Alliance was to identify distinct patterns—or trajectories—of students' engagement within their online courses over time and examine whether these patterns were associated with their academic outcomes in the online course. The study used data collected by Wisconsin Virtual School's learning management system and student information system, including 1,512 student enrollments in 109 online elective, core, and Advanced Placement high school courses. Group-based trajectory modeling was employed to estimate the number and shapes of engagement patterns evident in the sample, and hierarchical linear modeling assessed the associations between engagement group membership and course outcomes, controlling for demographic characteristics. Analyses revealed six distinct patterns of student engagement in online courses: Initial 1.5 Hours with Decrease, Steady 1.5 Hours, Initial 2 Hours with Spike, Steady 2.5 Hours, 4+ Hours, and 6+ Hours. Students with relatively low but steady engagement had better outcomes than students with similar initial engagement that diminished throughout the course. Overall, students engaging two or more hours per week had better online course outcomes than students who engaged less than two hours per week. Wisconsin Virtual School directors and directors of other online learning programs can use information from this study to consider the supports they implement to help students successfully complete their courses, especially students who display engagement patterns that are associated with poorer course outcomes. Other online learning programs across the country can use the results of this project as a framework for investigating the data they have available in their learning management systems and student information systems.
7/6/2016
REL 2016139 Online credit recovery: Enrollment and passing patterns in Montana Digital Academy courses
Most U.S. school districts (88 percent) offer credit recovery programs that allow students to make up courses that they need to meet graduation requirements. Online credit recovery options are popular, especially in rural states, because they allow schools to serve students in remote areas throughout the year, across a range of subjects, and with few additional resources. Such programs offer students greater flexibility and choice, which results in more opportunities to make up classes and a greater likelihood that they will stay in school and stay on track to graduate. Despite the growing popularity of online credit recovery courses, however, there is still little research about which students take these courses or how well they perform in them. This REL Northwest report addresses that gap by examining 2013/14 data from the Montana Digital Academy (MTDA), the only statewide funded program offering online credit recovery courses in Montana. The report provides a descriptive analysis of course-enrollment and course-completion patterns and also draws on interviews with education leaders across Montana to provide context and to describe other credit recovery strategies in the state. The analysis finds that more boys than girls enroll in MTDA online credit recovery courses, and students in grades 10 and 11 make up a larger proportion of MTDA student enrollment than those in grades 9 or 12. More students enroll in MTDA online credit recovery courses in English language arts than any other subject area. Slightly less than 60 percent of MTDA online credit recovery students receive a passing grade, with passing rates lowest in math (49 percent) and English language arts (52 percent). Also, students who take one MTDA online credit recovery course per semester have lower passing rates (40 percent) than those who take multiple courses in a semester. The report offers educators an early look at the potential of online credit recovery courses to help struggling students get back on track to graduation. It can also help state leaders compare MTDA to other online programs and to identify possible areas for additional investigation or improvement when designing credit recovery options.
6/28/2016
REL 2016127 Stated Briefly: Professional experiences of online teachers in Wisconsin: Results from a survey about training and challenges
This "Stated Briefly" report is a companion piece that summarizes the results of another report of the same name. REL Midwest, in partnership with the Midwest Virtual Education Research Alliance, analyzed the results of a survey administered to Wisconsin Virtual School teachers about the training in which they participated related to online instruction, the challenges they encounter while teaching online, and the type of training they thought would help them address those challenges. REL Midwest researchers and Virtual Education Research Alliance members collaborated to develop the survey based on items from the Going Virtual! survey (Dawley et al., 2010; Rice & Dawley, 2007; Rice et al., 2008). Wisconsin Virtual School administered the survey to its 54 teachers, and 49 (91 percent) responded to the survey. The responses of the 48 teachers who indicated that they taught an online course during the 2013/14 or 2014/15 school year were analyzed for the report. Results indicate that all Wisconsin Virtual School teachers reported participating in training or professional development related to online instruction and that more teachers reported participating in training that occurred while teaching online than prior to teaching online or during preservice education. The teachers most frequently reported challenges related to students' perseverance and engagement and indicated that they preferred unstructured professional development to structured professional development to help them address those challenges. Further research is needed to determine what types of professional development and training are most effective in improving teaching practice, especially related to student engagement and perseverance.
2/17/2016
REL 2016110 Professional Experiences of Online Teachers in Wisconsin: Results from a Survey About Training and Challenges
REL Midwest, in partnership with the Midwest Virtual Education Research Alliance, analyzed the results of a survey administered to Wisconsin Virtual School teachers about the training in which they participated related to online instruction, the challenges they encounter while teaching online, and the type of training they thought would help them address those challenges. REL Midwest researchers and Virtual Education Research Alliance members collaborated to develop the survey based on items from the Going Virtual! survey (Dawley et al., 2010; Rice & Dawley, 2007; Rice et al., 2008). Wisconsin Virtual School administered the survey to its 54 teachers, and 49 (91 percent) responded to the survey. The responses of the 48 teachers who indicated that they taught an online course during the 2013/14 or 2014/15 school year were analyzed for the report. Results indicate that all Wisconsin Virtual School teachers reported participating in training or professional development related to online instruction and that more teachers reported participating in training that occurred while teaching online than prior to teaching online or during preservice education. The teachers most frequently reported challenges related to students’ perseverance and engagement and indicated that they preferred unstructured professional development to structured professional development to help them address those challenges. Further research is needed to determine what types of professional development and training are most effective in improving teaching practice, especially related to student engagement and perseverance.
11/24/2015
REL 2015095 Comparing Success Rates for General and Credit Recovery Courses Online and Face to Face: Results for Florida High School Courses
This report describes the results of a REL Southeast study comparing student success in online credit recovery and general courses taken online compared to traditional face-to-face courses. Credit recovery occurs when a student fails a course and then retakes the same course to earn high school credit. This research question was motivated by the high use of online learning in the Southeast, particularly as a method to help students engage in credit recovery. The data for this study covered all high school courses taken between 2007/08 and 2010/11 in Florida (excluding Driver’s and Physical Education). The study compares the likelihood of a student earning a C or better in an online course as compared to a face-to-face course. Comparisons for both general and online courses include those courses taken for the first time and credit recovery courses. The results show that the likelihood of a student earning a grade of C or better was higher when a course was taken online than when taken face-to-face, both for general courses and credit recovery courses. Most subgroups of students also had higher likelihood of success in online courses compared to face-to-face courses, except that English language learners showed no difference in outcomes when taking credit recovery courses online. However, it is not possible to determine whether these consistent differences in course outcomes are attributable to greater student learning, other factors such as differences in student characteristics, or differences in grading standards.
9/15/2015
REL 2015090 Stated Briefly: Online course use in Iowa and Wisconsin public schools: The results of two statewide surveys
This "Stated Briefly" report is a companion piece that summarizes the results of another report of the same name. The purpose of the study conducted by REL Midwest in partnership with the Midwest Virtual Education Research Alliance was to develop and administer a survey to describe online course use in Iowa and Wisconsin brick-and-mortar public high schools during the 2012-13 school year. The Iowa Department of Education and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction administered the survey to representative random samples of 168 public high schools in each state at the start of the 2013-14 school year. Researchers analyzed survey data collected from 117 schools in Iowa and 96 schools in Wisconsin to produce statewide estimates of online course use. Results indicate that the primary uses of online courses in both states were to provide students with opportunities for credit recovery and opportunities to complete core requirements for courses covering the primary academic subjects. Schools cited concerns about the educational experiences of students taking online courses, including the lack of teacher training in Iowa and online course quality in Wisconsin. Further research is needed to examine the short-term and long-term academic outcomes for students enrolled in online courses.
5/12/2015
REL 2015074 Stated Briefly: Online course use in New York high schools: Results from a survey in the Greater Capital Region
This "Stated Briefly" report is a companion piece that summarizes the results of another report of the same name. The goal of the study conducted by the Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands’ Northeast Rural Districts Research Alliance (NRDRA) was to provide information about how and why high schools in the Greater Capital Region of the state used online courses for their students in 2012/13. Researchers analyzed survey data collected from 59 responding schools to produce estimates of online course use. Results indicate that 59 percent of respondent high schools in the New York Greater Capital Region enrolled students in online courses in the 2012/13 school year. Schools offered online courses primarily to provide students with opportunities for credit recovery. School officials expressed concern about course quality and academic integrity.
3/31/2015
REL 2015075 Online course use in New York high schools: Results from a survey in the Greater Capital Region
As in most states, New York does not currently have a state-level protocol for collecting data about schools' objectives or methods for offering online courses. The goals of the study conducted by the Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands' Northeast Rural Districts Research Alliance (NRDRA) were (1) to create a survey tool capable of collecting information about how and why schools in New York are using online learning, as well as the factors that hinder the use of online courses; and (2) to provide information about how and why high schools in the Greater Capital Region of the state used online courses for their students in 2012/13. NRDRA members from the Capital Area School Development Association (CASDA) administered the survey to their 99 member public high schools at the start of the 2013/14 school year. Researchers analyzed survey data collected from 59 responding schools to produce estimates of online course use in CASDA schools. Results indicate that 59 percent of the responding schools used at least one online course for their students during the 2012/13 school year, with an average of six percent of the student population across these schools enrolling in an online course. The primary uses of online courses were to provide students with opportunities to recover credit and complete core courses required for a high school diploma. Respondent high schools identified three concerns related to their students' educational experiences in online courses: course quality, the academic integrity of online learning, and the lack of student and teacher face-to-face interaction. For responding schools that did not use online courses, the most frequently cited reasons for not using online courses were concerns about students' educational experiences in online courses and limited school resources, including funding and access to technology. Further research is needed to examine the academic outcomes of students enrolled in online courses.
3/31/2015
REL 2015065 Online Course Use in Iowa and Wisconsin Public High Schools: The Results of Two Statewide Surveys
The purpose of the study conducted by REL Midwest in partnership with the Midwest Virtual Education Research Alliance was to develop and administer a survey to describe online course use in Iowa and Wisconsin brick-and-mortar public high schools during the 2012–13 school year. The Iowa Department of Education and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction administered the survey to representative random samples of 168 public high schools in each state at the start of the 2013–14 school year. Researchers analyzed survey data collected from 117 schools in Iowa and 96 schools in Wisconsin to produce statewide estimates of online course use. Results indicate that the primary uses of online courses in both states were to provide students with opportunities for credit recovery and opportunities to complete core requirements for courses covering the primary academic subjects. Schools cited concerns about the educational experiences of students taking online courses, including the lack of teacher training in Iowa and online course quality in Wisconsin. Further research is needed to examine the short-term and long-term academic outcomes for students enrolled in online courses.
1/20/2015
WWC IRL631 Academy of READING
Academy of READING is an online program that aims to improve students' reading skills using a structured and sequential approach to learning in five core areas--phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The WWC identified 38 studies of Academy of READING for adolescent readers that were published or released between 1989 and 2013. Only one of the studies met the WWC criteria for an eligible sample and research design, as described in the Adolescent Literacy review protocol. This study does not meet WWC group design standards. Therefore, more research is needed to determine the impacts of Academy of READING on adolescent readers.
12/16/2014
REL 2015045 Online and Distance Learning in Southwest Tennessee: Implementation and Challenges
The purpose of this study was to increase the understanding among members of the Southwest Tennessee Rural Education Cooperative (SWTREC), a coalition of superintendents from 12 districts (half of which are rural) surrounding Memphis, about the online and distance-learning courses offered by schools that compose the Cooperative. Data for this report were collected through an online questionnaire administered by districts in the SWTREC in April 2013 and completed by one person from each participating school. Seventeen of the twenty-one high schools within the SWTREC districts responded to the survey. More than 80 percent of responding schools reported offering online or distance-learning courses in school year 2012/13. On average, schools provided more online than distance-learning courses, and they had higher enrollments in online courses. Both online and distance-learning courses were used to provide students with access to dual enrollment courses. Schools that offered online courses most often identified the opportunity for students to accelerate credit accumulation as a "very important" reason for offering the courses. Technological limitations – both the availability of technology and restricted periods when technology was available – were barriers schools perceived in offering online and distance-learning courses.
11/12/2014
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