An evaluative case study of nine virtual high school programs
Clara M. Bannister, Capella University, United States
Capella University . Awarded
The purpose of this study was to conduct a program evaluation of nine virtual high school programs in the states of Alabama, California, Florida, Idaho, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina and Massachusetts. In order to assess the quality and effectiveness of the virtual high school programs in the study in terms of overall quality and identification of areas for improvement, a mixed method approach most effectively achieved this by providing information across all levels. A quantitative study allowed for determination of the extent that the virtual high school programs have incorporated the key components of effective online learning programs. In addition, a qualitative analysis enabled comparisons across the nine programs in terms of non-quantifiable common characteristics, goals, and mission/vision statements, as well as providing a richer understanding of each program, which enabled the identification of themes across programs to reveal successful or unsuccessful strategies and program elements and potential areas for improvement. Using only quantitative analysis or only qualitative analysis would not have allowed for the depth of cross case analysis provided by incorporating both methods. Findings from the cross case analysis of the programs revealed common characteristics, goals and objectives, goals met stakeholder participation, and standards of practice that contribute to quality of service. The results of the study concluded that the virtual high school setting in the format provided by these nine virtual high schools is an effective way of meeting the needs of learners who do not have equal access to opportunities for learning afforded to other school systems, whether due to economic restraints, geographic restraints, or other reasons.
In addition, it affords quality professional development to K-12 teachers who may not otherwise be able to access professional development, indirectly providing better quality of education at the local level as well. This study is significant in that it has added to the knowledge base concerning virtual high school programs and their contributions to education. The data identified common characteristics and objectives across the nine virtual high school programs. The study showed that these programs are providing access to educational opportunities to students in low-income, high-academic need school districts to reduce disparities.
Bannister, C.M. An evaluative case study of nine virtual high school programs. Ph.D. thesis, Capella University.
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