Research Publication Title

Do Virtual Schools Have An Effect On Educational Achievement?

Presenter Information

Webb BeardFollow

Major

Economics and Political Science

Faculty Mentor

Brooke Conaway

Keywords

education, school, virtual, blended, graduation, achievement

Abstract

As recently as a few decades ago, virtual schools didn’t exist. As of 2016, virtual schools had grown in popularity such that 295,518 students were enrolled with an additional 116,716 students enrolled in blended schools. In addition, thirty-four states now have full-time virtual schools and twenty-nine states have blended schools. Virtual schools are defined as delivering all curriculum and content through the internet and electronic communication, with no face-to-face interaction, while blended schools combine online schooling and some face-to-face interaction (Miron et al., 2018). Virtual schools and their consequences are becoming increasingly important in the education field. Using state-level panel data collected by the National Education Policy Center and an ordinary least squares model, I examine the effect of virtual schools on high school graduation rates while controlling for enrollment size, race, and quality of traditional brick-and-mortar schools in the state. Previous research has found that virtual schools tend to underperform both blended schools and traditional public schools. Therefore, I expect to find that attending virtual school has a negative effect on educational achievement, as measured by graduate rates.

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Do Virtual Schools Have An Effect On Educational Achievement?

As recently as a few decades ago, virtual schools didn’t exist. As of 2016, virtual schools had grown in popularity such that 295,518 students were enrolled with an additional 116,716 students enrolled in blended schools. In addition, thirty-four states now have full-time virtual schools and twenty-nine states have blended schools. Virtual schools are defined as delivering all curriculum and content through the internet and electronic communication, with no face-to-face interaction, while blended schools combine online schooling and some face-to-face interaction (Miron et al., 2018). Virtual schools and their consequences are becoming increasingly important in the education field. Using state-level panel data collected by the National Education Policy Center and an ordinary least squares model, I examine the effect of virtual schools on high school graduation rates while controlling for enrollment size, race, and quality of traditional brick-and-mortar schools in the state. Previous research has found that virtual schools tend to underperform both blended schools and traditional public schools. Therefore, I expect to find that attending virtual school has a negative effect on educational achievement, as measured by graduate rates.