The Impact of An Online Learning Credit Recovery Program on the Graduation Rate of Students Receiving Free and Reduced Meals

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Low-income students are five times more likely to drop out of high school than their high-income peers (Chapman, Laird, Ifill, & KewalRamani, 2011). While race, geography, economic conditions, access to high quality teachers, gender, and age are measures often used to determine if a student is likely to drop out of school, economic conditions are the single variable that most closely predicts dropout potential (Mid-Atlantic State Department of Education). As an intervention tool, “online coursework may lead to increased self-efficacy in at-risk students if adequate supports are in place to help them to succeed” (Lewis, Whiteside, and Dikkers, 2014). According to Lips (2010), “Online learning could address many discrepancies in American education in terms of the disparate access to high-quality teachers and instruction caused by socioeconomic and geographic differences” (p. 4). Describing the impact of online learning on at risk students, Archambault et al. (2010) said, “Virtual school programs find that taking advantages of the technology, various curriculum programs and being able to individualize instruction are effective strategies for meeting the needs of at-risk students” (p. 7). The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of an online learning credit recovery program on the graduation rates of students receiving free and reduced meal benefits at a high school in the Great Lakes Public Schools (a pseudonym) located in Mid-Atlantic State. The study compared the graduation rates of FARMS students who participated in the APEX online learning program against FARMS students who did not participate in the program. The results failed to reject the null hypothesis indicating that there was no statistical difference between the two groups. This study may be useful as the district seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of its intervention programs for struggling students.