Student Enrollment Patterns and Achievement in Ohio's Online Charter Schools

Published in: Educational Researcher, Vol. 46 No. 1 (January/February 2017), pp. 44-57

Posted on RAND.org on March 28, 2017

by June Ahn, Andrew McEachin

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We utilize state data of nearly 1.7 million students in Ohio to study a specific sector of online education: K–12 schools that deliver most, if not all, education online, lack a brick-and-mortar presence, and enroll students full-time. First, we explore e-school enrollment patterns and how these patterns vary by student subgroups and geography. Second, we evaluate the impact of e-schools on students' learning, comparing student outcomes in e-schools to outcomes in two other schooling types, traditional charter schools and traditional public schools. Our results show that students and families appear to self-segregate in stark ways where low-income, lower achieving White students are more likely to choose e-schools while low-income, lower achieving minority students are more likely to opt into the traditional charter school sector. Our results also show that students in e-schools are performing worse on standardized assessments than their peers in traditional charter and traditional public schools. We close with policy recommendations and areas for future research.

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