Understanding the Role and Applicability of K-12 Online Learning to Support Student Dropout Recovery Efforts

Publication Date


Document Type



Education | Educational Technology | Elementary Education | Online and Distance Education | Secondary Education


Recent, daunting reports suggest that the true high school graduation rate is substantially lower than the official rate, and that it has been declining for the last 40 years. These findings suggest that onethird of all public high school students and nearly one-half of minority students fail to complete their high school experience. K-12 online learning, a method of delivering teaching and learning through electronic means, has been touted as a potential solution for reaching students who might be considered lost to the traditional education system. This report describes what we currently know about high school dropout and retention, what solutions have been proposed, and how online learning might impact the retention rate. Drawing on existing work from Michigan Virtual School, data are provided to discuss performance of credit recovery students and conditions under which such students succeed and struggle in online learning environments. Results suggest that online learning can impact retention and dropout recovery; however, simply replicating existing face-to-face environments often replicates the negative behavioral, affective, and cognitive outcomes of at-risk students.


Article is a "stand alone" report (not published by or within a journal or other publication), written for Michigan Virtual University (http://michiganvirtual.org).


Michigan Virtual University

Publisher Location

Lansing, Michigan