Learn more about the research behind the findings
We wanted to explore the impact on learning of Connections Academy virtual schools. In 2016 and 2017, we collaborated with Gatti Evaluation to conduct several studies.
Does taking GradPoint credit recovery courses benefit students?
A study exploring whether taking a GradPoint credit recovery course leads to better academic achievement than repeating a failed original credit course
We evaluated whether GradPoint credit recovery courses helped students to effectively make up lost credits, thereby helping them stay on, or get back on, track for high school graduation.
We used propensity score matching to identify a similar sample of students who opted to repeat a failed original credit course. We also used a retrospective cohort design to assess whether students enrolled in GradPoint courses tended to have similar state test performance as students repeating original credit courses.
Course pass rates were nearly two times higher for GradPoint enrollments compared to the sample of original credit course repetitions. Specifically, after adjusting for achievement-related student characteristics and enrollment factors, the average adjusted pass rate for GradPoint enrollments was 85% — significantly higher than the average pass rate of 45% for original credit course repetitions.
Why choose Connections Academy virtual school?
A study exploring why students and families choose a virtual school
We wanted to gain a deeper, clearer understanding of the types of students attending Connections Academy schools. The research revealed seven distinct profiles:
- Academically advanced students
- Academically struggling students
- Students experiencing health problems
- New students who were experiencing bullying
- Returning students who originally enrolled with numerous challenges, including those captured in the previous clusters
- & 7. Students new to Connections Academy schools or returning, both of which were seeking flexibility and choice
In the first phase of the study, conducted of Connections Academy schools with students enrolled at any time during the 2015–2016 academic year, we found that Connections Academy schools serve highly mobile students with complex needs known to impact academic performance. These students’ needs include, among others, health concerns, bullying and safety, looking to be challenged, trying to catch up, and flexible scheduling. These characteristics create a unique student population that differs from traditional brick-and-mortar schools.
How do Connections Academy schools perform?
A study comparing Connections Academy schools to matched non-charter brick-and-mortar and virtual schools
Gatti Evaluation conducted a quasi-experimental matched comparison study to investigate this question.
Student cohorts were all matched on data from either 2014 or 2015, the first year for available data. They were then compared on achievement for the subsequent years. This eliminates any possibility of a confound for time in making the comparisons.
The results provide evidence that Connections Academy students can receive the same quality of education as that offered at their local public school, while simultaneously taking advantage of the benefits offered to them by virtual schools; and that students may be better positioned in Connections Academy schools than other virtual schools.