Perceptions of high school parents regarding effectiveness of online secondary education programs

Online K-12 education programs, also known as virtual schools, began in the 1990s and offered mostly enrichment experiences and accelerated high school courses such as honors. With the growing number of online learning providers, ranging from state virtual schools to nationwide online charter schools, parents and their children have more choices available. However, the research is limited regarding guidance that enable parents to make educated decisions about school choice for their children. This study determined perceptions of parents of online high school students regarding the effectiveness of online secondary education programs. A questionnaire was developed for parents whose children were enrolled in the same online high school for multiple school years. Through color coding, the author found that parents transferred their students to an online high school, only when they were not successful in a brick and mortar high school. Comments from respondents revealed that individualized attention, flexible scheduling and motivated teachers of online high schools make students academically successful. There are few challenges which were not anticipated by parents. The most serious concern for parents is lack of student self-regulation. In response to this concern this author suggests orientations for parents, greater communication and more onsite assistance.