The American Institutes for Research (AIR) has received a $3.26 million federal grant to study whether online recovery classes in Algebra 1 and ninth-grade English are more or less effective than when students learn in the classroom, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The study will focus on schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, which has expanded online credit recovery classes in recent years in an effort to increase its graduation rate, and the sample will include roughly 3,000 students from 15 high schools.
AIR has already conducted similar research in Chicago, where it found an online Algebra 1 course to be more rigorous that the face-to-face version, though students in both versions of the course graduated at the same rates.
As students’ internet access has expanded both at school and at home, districts have increased online learning opportunities for students. In fact, according to research from the Online Learning Consortium, formerly the Sloan Consortium, more than 75% of school districts use online learning for credit recovery or to expand course offerings. “Using Online Learning for Credit Recovery,” by the International Association of K-12 Online Learning, provides profiles of successful online credit recovery programs. It also offers recommendations on how to ensure that online programs provide high-quality, equitable instruction, as well as additional support that students in these programs might need, such as regular check-ins from graduation specialists.
As the numbers of students in online courses continues to increase — especially students who have struggled academically — it’s important to provide ongoing professional development to educators teaching online courses, Susan Lowes of Teachers College writes in “Professional Development for Online Teachers,” a chapter appearing in "What Works in Online K-12 Learning." Virtual High School, for example, has created the Community of Virtual Educators, where online educators can address immediate concerns but also participate in content-area discussions or mini-courses. The Southern Regional Education Board also created Standards for Quality Online Teaching, which provides detailed indicators for high-quality instruction.