A Summary of Research on the Effectiveness of K-12 Online Learning

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This memo examines the outcomes of existing studies on K-12 learning effectiveness, and it provides a literature review of these studies.

A number of rigorous studies have asked the question, “Is online learning effective?” However, there is not a single, large-scale, national study comparing students taking online courses with traditional students, using control groups in the instructional design. The most in-depth, large-scale study to-date is a meta-analysis and review of studies from the U.S. Department of Education.

This memo contains 3 sections:

  • A summary of the major study by the U.S. Department of Education
  • A brief literature review of online learning research and studies
  • Future research recommendations.

Download this memo to learn more about how online learning is an effective alternative for improving student performance.



Allison Powell, Susan Patrick



Date Published

August 2009




Online Learning