Dissertation progress – here is the abstract

After many months and hours of reading and writing and analyzing documents, articles, reports, studies and books, I am excited to say that my dissertation is moving towards completion.  My final defense is scheduled for April 9th and I hope I can have those in the online learning world who would like to, join me from a distance via Elluminate.   I’m still working out these details.

The title of my dissertation is:  Are at-risk students more successful in online charter schools in California?

Here is the abstract:

Nationally, the percentage of high school students who graduate within four years has remained between 65 and 70 percent since the late 1960s.  Despite various educational reforms, the number of students who are at-risk of dropping out of high school has remained constant, increased in some years and decreased in other years.  Two innovative educational movements developed in the 1990s may help to reduce the number of school dropouts: charter schools and online schools.  The first state charter school law was passed in Minnesota in 1991 and in California in 1992.  Since then, more than 4500 charter schools have developed across the U.S.  Among all states, California has the largest number of charter schools and the largest number of charter school students (20 percent of all students attending charter schools reside in California).  The number of students enrolled in online charter schools has increased by 40 percent each year for three years in California, and represents one percent of the total charter school enrollment.

This study compared students attending online charter schools with students attending traditional high schools in California to determine if at-risk students are more successful in online charter schools.  There were 10 online charter high schools (grades 9-12) chosen that had operated for more than two years.  A random sample of 10 traditional high schools were chosen to compare results based on the percentage of free and reduced lunch students in the online charter schools, an indicator of at-risk students.  Pearson’s chi-square was used to determine significance.  Analysis revealed that the number of students attending online charter schools increased yearly by more than 40 percent between 2006 and 2009 in California.  Further analysis revealed that the percentage of students who scored proficient or above on the California Standards English Language Arts test was similar in both online charter and traditional high schools, and the number of students who drop out of high school was greater in online charter schools than in traditional high schools.  Although chi-square results did show significance in sampling, there is not enough data to suggest that at-risk students are being more successful in online charter schools at this time.

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7 Responses to “Dissertation progress – here is the abstract”


  1. 1 mkbnl March 21, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Rob, I would love a copy of your dissertation when you are finished.

    • 2 robdarrow March 21, 2010 at 2:12 pm

      Be happy to share it with any who are interested when it is all complete. I have been motivated by the great research that you and others have developed over the past 10 years and I think we share the passion to move this innovation past the tipping point!

  2. 3 Tom Nixon March 21, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    I really like the idea of being able to see your defense using Elluminate. I wonder if that would be a first?

  3. 4 James Andrew laSpina March 23, 2010 at 5:49 am

    Rob
    Noticed that your name was listed in the Appendices section of the National Technology Plan in the section

    Anytime, Anywhere Technology Access

  4. 5 mimi muircastle March 27, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Your dissertation question is of great interest to me as I have seen first hand as a charter school counselor the power of having some of my students become online concurrent community college students. The experience changed their perception of themselves, nearly 360 degrees!

    I would love to read your dissertation when it becomes available.

    And, are you aware that a dissertation was defended in Second Life recently? Just a thought since you are planning to open your dissertation defense via Elluminate. And that is great!

    So glad I found your blog and also glad you shared your dissertation journey!


  1. 1 You’re Invited to the Final Dissertation Defense on April 7 « California Dreamin' by Rob Darrow Trackback on March 31, 2010 at 9:29 pm
  2. 2 Dissertation: A Comparative Study Between Online Charter High Schools And Traditional High Schools In California « Virtual School Meanderings Trackback on April 24, 2010 at 7:57 am

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