Distance Learning Review

Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, educators and school administrators needed to understand the available distance learning models and programs that may assist students who attend school from a remote location. To meet this need, this rapid evidence review sought to identify and report on what works in distance learning educational programming.

After an extensive search and screening process, the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) reviewed 36 studies spanning kindergarten through postsecondary education. Fifteen studies met the WWC Group Design Standards; of those, three met the Every Student Succeeds Act Tier 1 requirements.

An analysis of where research has been conducted revealed that several distance learning programs for K–8 students Met WWC Group Design Standards, but only one study of a distance learning program for high school students Met WWC Group Design Standards.

In addition, a meta-analysis of studies with similar design characteristics (nine in total) found that, on average, students in the distance learning programs improved in the English language arts outcome domain but not in the mathematics domain.

Although the results are promising, continued research using rigorous, randomized designs should be a priority

Sarah Sahni
Principal Researcher
Joshua Polanin
Principal Researcher