Exploring Online Learning Opportunities for At-Risk Students to Complete a High School Diploma



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According to the Texas PEIMs Student Data Report (2009), 47% of the student population of Texas is at risk of dropping out of school. The focus of this study is to determine the current state of online learning opportunities available to at-risk students, in order for them to complete their high school diploma. A comparison of two online programs was made, concentrating on course completion rates. Allowing students to recover credits via online learning may provide students with the needed flexibility to deter the option of dropping out of school.
A non-experimental, mixed methods research design was utilized, with a study population of students who completed online credit recovery programs within an urban school district, as well as students completing courses through a state virtual network. Data collected were analyzed for completion rates in online courses during the 2009-10 school year, using descriptive statistics (SPSS methods). Completion and withdrawal surveys given to online students were also correlated to better understand online learning practices that may be effective for at-risk students, as well as the factors that increase or decrease the chance of student success in online learning. Students had a high rate of completion in online credit recovery courses, while fewer students actually completed online courses through the state virtual network. Results indicated that online learning has the potential to decrease the number of dropouts in the state, allowing students to successfully complete a high school diploma.



Online learning, At-risk students