Understanding Online K-12 students Through a Demographic Study

December 01, 2014

Online K-12 learning opportunities have proliferated, but much remains to be understood about the characteristics of participating students. This study presents a demographic profile of full-time, K-12 online learners today and compares them with public school students nationwide in the United States. The data was collected from a parent survey that produced 119,155 valid  responses/records for students enrolled full-time in online K-12 public schools in 43 states. The study shows that the online student population includes somewhat more females than males, and more middle school than elementary or high school students. White students are overrepresented
among full-time online learners compared with their share of the nationwide student population, while Hispanic/Latino and Asian/Pacific Islander students are underrepresented.  Gifted and talented students and English language learners (ELLs) are also underrepresented. These data provide a baseline for more detailed explorations and can assist practitioners, policy makers, and researchers in making important decisions about online education that have implications for all students.