District/School: Jackson Local Schools
Location: Massillon, OH
Research Methodology: Literature Review
Jackson Local Schools (JLS) is a comprehensive K-12 public school district, one of the 12 local and five city school districts in Stark County, Ohio. Recognizing that some students, families, and teachers may benefit most from a permanent virtual learning model, JLS plans to offer a full-time virtual school option after the district returns to full-time in-person instruction. To understand the student characteristics and skills most strongly associated with virtual schooling success, JLS partnered with Hanover Research to review the research the district will use to support its stakeholders in implementing this new instructional environment.
JLS enlisted Hanover to conduct a best-practices review of relevant academic literature to identify student characteristics most strongly correlated with success in a fully-virtual environment.
Research Question: Which student skills, attributes, and/or attitudes appear to support success in a virtual setting?
“When I moved to the JLS central office, I was given the task to take the district operations from paper and pencil to computers and system software. It was our goal to reinvent education and move the district past the traditional industrial age model, break down barriers, and provide truly individualized instruction. The pandemic, while tragic, has provided the opportunity for everything about education to change. With our newfound partners at Hanover Research, we have now taken the first steps toward permanently altering education within our district. Our initiative uses research to create a decision matrix that allows us to identify the qualities that teachers and students need to be successful in this new eLearning model. Our Hanover team was exceptional to work with. It feels like we are all on a team working to a common goal.”
District Technology Facilitator
Hanover analyzed and evaluated the literature and online tools to identify the attributes, skills, and attitudes of successful online students. In its analysis, Hanover uncovered the factors that drive online learning success, organizing these findings into categories such as: academic readiness, digital readiness, personal attributes (e.g., self-regulation, self-motivation), and online communication and engagement skills. Hanover also discovered meaningful online tools that JLS can use to enable its teachers and other school staff to assess students’ readiness and prepare them.
Hanover recommended that JLS use tools (e.g., rubrics, questionnaires) to determine each potential student’s readiness for online learning and integrate curricula that build foundational skills that support online learning success. Additionally, Hanover suggested in-depth interviews with leaders from districts that operate strong online learning programs to understand the challenges and successes associated with establishing and maintaining an online learning program.
Informed by Hanover’s findings, Jackson Local Schools plans to:
- Create a full-time online education program informed by the student characteristics that correlate with student success;
- Build a district-specific rubric to evaluate a student’s propensity to be successful in an online setting; and
- Conduct future research on teacher and family characteristics that thrive in a virtual setting.