Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in School Leadership

College

College of Education

Department

Center for Leadership & Learning

Committee Chair

Dr. John A. Freeman

Second Committee Member

Dr. Christopher E. Trombly

Third Committee Member

Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim

Program Director

Dr. John A. Freeman

Dean of Graduate College

Dr. Jeff Robertson

Abstract

High school has evolved significantly over the last several decades. What was once a choice between public school and private school is now a decision that includes homeschools, magnet schools, charter schools, and virtual schools, to name a few. This was a mixed-methods case study that investigated students’ and families’ satisfaction with their decision to attend high school virtually. The study examined a fully online virtual high school in the state of Arkansas to answer the following research questions: 1. What factors best predict students’ interest in enrolling in a fully online virtual school in Arkansas? 2. Is there a statistically significant relationship between students’ satisfaction, positive experience, and enrollment duration and attending fully online virtual school in Arkansas? 3. Are there statistically significant differences in the satisfaction between students attending a fully online virtual school in Arkansas and their parents? 4. Are there statistically significant differences in the level of students’ satisfaction with a fully online virtual school in Arkansas based on their eligibility for Special Education services? 5. To what degree has a fully online virtual school in Arkansas satisfied students’ and families’ reasons for having selected it over a traditional brick-and-mortar school? The case study of the virtual school in Arkansas was assembled from data collected through a survey of students and families currently attending the virtual school along with semi-structured interviews with fourteen selected participants. The investigation found that there were four major themes that surrounded students’ and families’ decisions to attend a virtual high school: social and behavioral issues (either personally or with peers), a desire for more flexibility, negative experiences with teachers and administrators, and academic motives. This study confirmed the existing literature regarding students’ and families’ reasons for attending a virtual high school. The investigation also found that virtual school students requiring special education services were more satisfied with their decision to attend this particular virtual school than their counterparts who did not require special education services. Finally, the study found that parents of a particular virtual school studied were more satisfied than the students.

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