Researchers from University of California, Davis, will share in a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences to launch a three-year study of K-12 virtual schooling in Florida.
The study will explore how virtual schooling options affect students' course progression, academic achievement and teacher effectiveness. Virtual schools have expanded rapidly in many states, and Florida has the nation's largest K-12 virtual education sector.
Assistant Professor Cassandra Hart of the UC Davis School of Education will work with Susanna Loeb, of Stanford University, and Brian Jacob and Brian Rowan of the University of Michigan.
Researchers said the results will help policymakers and school personnel understand how virtual classes affect achievement, which students are likely to benefit and avenues for improvement.
Researchers will examine data for virtual and face-to-face schools in Florida from 2003 through 2014. In addition, they'll collect additional data through surveys from students and teachers in the Florida Virtual School and from students and teachers at Miami Dade County Public Schools.
"We will also ask the students about the support they receive from teachers, such as feedback and encouragement," Hart said. "And we will ask teachers about the support they receive from administrators, such as curricular materials and real-time coaching."