New Study Determines Students in Full-Time Online Public Schools Possess Strong Social...

Tue Jun 2, 2009 9:02am EDT

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New Study Determines Students in Full-Time Online Public Schools Possess
Strong Social Skills

National study represents the first significant research on socialization in
online schools

NEW YORK, June 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new study concludes that the
social skills of students enrolled in full-time, online public schools are
superior to or not significantly different than students enrolled in
traditional public schools.

The independent study was completed by Interactive Education Systems Design
(IESD), Inc., in collaboration with The Center for Research in Educational
Policy (CREP) at the University of Memphis. It represents the first
significant research effort on the social skills of students in full-time,
online public schools.

"Online public schools are experiencing rapid growth across the country," said
Dr. Jay Sivin-Kachala, Vice-President of IESD, who led the research project.
"Yet some concerns have been expressed that students enrolled in online public
schools may suffer from a lack of opportunities for socialization, and
consequently may fail to develop important social skills. The results of this
study provide substantial evidence supporting the conclusion that typical,
mainstream students enrolled in full-time, online public schools are at least
as well socialized as equivalent students enrolled in traditional public
schools."

Dr. Sivin-Kachala added, "Preliminary evidence also suggests that students
enrolled in full-time, online public schools might have an advantage in their
social skills development if they are highly engaged in activities outside the
school day -- including both activities involving peer interaction and
activities not involving peer interaction."

Dr. Sivin-Kachala earned a Doctorate of Education (Ed. D.) in educational
technology from Teachers College at Columbia University and has designed and
led numerous research projects in the field of education.

Other findings from the study include:

    --  Children who were enrolled in full-time, online public schools were
        highly engaged in activities outside of the school day.
    --  Problem behaviors of students enrolled in full-time, online public
        schools were either significantly lower or not significantly different
        to their peers in traditional public schools.
    --  Spending a longer time enrolled in full-time, online public schools
was
        not associated with lower social skills.
    --  A majority of parents described improvement in a variety of academic,
        personal, and interpersonal skills since their child enrolled in a
        full-time, online public school.



How the study was conducted

During February through August 2008 IESD and CREP conducted an evaluation
research study involving more than 250 students in grades 2, 4, and 6 that
were enrolled in four full-time, online public schools: Arizona Virtual
Academy, California Virtual Academy at San Diego, Idaho Virtual Academy, and
Ohio Virtual Academy.

Parents, teachers, and students completed evaluations of students' social
skills and problem behaviors, using the Social Skills Rating System (SSRS),
published by Pearson Assessments (Gresham & Elliot, 1990)--an evaluation
instrument that has been widely used in numerous studies and described as the
most comprehensive instrument of its kind because of its multi-source approach
(allowing for ratings by teachers, parents, and students themselves). These
evaluations were then compared to national norms for the SSRS, including both
norms across the elementary grades and norms for specific grade/gender
categories (e.g., grade 2 females).

The study also collected information from parents (via a survey) about reasons
for choosing a full-time, online public school; students' involvement in
activities outside of school; and parents' perspectives on the impact of
online public schooling.

The study was sponsored by K12 Inc., the nation's leading provider of K-12
proprietary curriculum and online school programs, with approval from the
independent governing boards of the four participating online public schools.
However, the findings and conclusions in the study represent IESD and CREP's
independent analysis of the collected data.

The comprehensive report and white paper summary can be found at
www.k12.com/socialization-study.

About IESD:
Interactive Educational Systems Design (IESD), Inc. provides a variety of
services related to research and evaluation, marketing, and development of
educational software, multimedia products, websites, and print-based
instructional programs. IESD has performed research and analysis for a number
of education clients including non-profit institutions, government agencies,
and school districts.

About CREP:
The Center for Research in Educational Policy (CREP) at The University of
Memphis has served as a leading resource in educational research, evaluation,
and consultation since 1989. CREP's areas of expertise include quantitative
and qualitative evaluation research methods in numerous fields, including
literacy, education technology, and school improvement and effectiveness.



SOURCE  Interactive Educational Systems Design

Dr. Jay Sivin-Kachala of Interactive Educational Systems Design,
+1-631-691-2606, jsivinkachala@iesdinc.com
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