The relative benefits of live versus online delivery: Evidence from virtual algebra I in North Carolina
Economics of Education Review Volume 53, Number 1, ISSN 0272-7757 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd
Over one million K-12 students pursue virtual education every year, but researchers know very little about the effectiveness of such programs. This paper exploits a district policy change that suddenly shifted advanced eighth graders into a virtual classroom for Algebra I. After the policy, higher-ability eighth graders in the treatment district began taking Algebra I in the virtual classroom at rates similar to the statewide average of their peers in traditional classrooms.The change in course delivery provides a unique opportunity to study effects of a virtual course on academic outcomes. The analysis uses variation in program uptake across performance quintile, district, and year in a difference-in-difference-in-difference approach to estimate the causal effect of the virtual course, finding that eighth grade virtual students tend to underperform relative to eighth graders who took Algebra I in a traditional classroom and relative to pre-policy, same-district students who had to take the course in ninth grade.
Heissel, J. (2016). The relative benefits of live versus online delivery: Evidence from virtual algebra I in North Carolina. Economics of Education Review, 53(1), 99-115. Elsevier Ltd.