Online Course Use in Iowa and Wisconsin Public High Schools: The Results of Two Statewide Surveys

Margaret Clements, Erin Stafford, and Angela M. Pazzaglia, Education Development Center
Pamela Jacobs, AIR

As the use of online courses in high schools increases rapidly across the United States, schools are using courses from a multitude of sources to achieve a variety of educational goals. Policies and practices for monitoring student progress and success in online courses are also diverse. Yet few states formally track or report student participation in online learning. Iowa and Wisconsin are among the states that do not track such information.

This study analyzed data from a survey developed to describe how and why brick-and­-mortar public high schools in Iowa and Wisconsin use online learning for their students. Results indicate that the primary uses of online courses in both states were to provide students with opportunities for credit recovery and opportunities to complete core requirements for courses covering the primary academic subjects. Schools cited concerns about the educational experiences of students taking online courses, including the lack of teacher training in Iowa and online course quality in Wisconsin. Further research is needed to examine the short-term and long-term academic outcomes for students enrolled in online courses.