The research by Ambient Insight also found more than four million students already receive full-time, online instruction.

Beyond home-schooling

While a great portion of online education has been associated with home-school teaching in the past decade, more and more online opportunities are appearing within traditional classrooms. Rural schools see advanced opportunities for lectures previously held as impossible or inconvenient, while even urban settings see the increased educational opportunities and fiscal savings of virtual field trips, such as those to zoos or museums around the world.

Today, 45 states in addition to Washington D.C. offer distance-learning initiatives that consist of either partial or full-time coursework. Twenty-four states provide statewide, full-time online coursework options, and a National Center for Educational Statistics survey of public school superintendents reported that 72 percent of districts planned further expansion.

Multiple benefits

Motivation for online coursework covers a broad range, but a recent Sloan Consortium survey of school district administrators cited the ability to offer subjects or topics currently unavailable at a school,ability to meet the needs of specific student groups, as well as access to Advance Placement and college-level coursework as top motivations to expand distance learning or blended courses. 


  • Twenty-four states provide statewide, full-time online coursework options

  • A twelve-year statistical compilation found that students completing part or all course work online rank in the 59th percentile of tested performance (SRI International for the U.S. Department of Education)

  • Faced with retraining 50 million american workers, corporate america is using distance learning, both internally and externally, for all aspects of training. (

  • Research on distance learning applications for Pre-K through grade 12, as well as in adult learning and training settings, strongly suggests that distance education is an effective means for delivering instruction. (

  • A twelve-year statistical compilation by SRI International for the U.S. Department of Education found that students completing part or all coursework online ranked in the 59th percentile of tested performance. Average classroom students scored in the 50th percentile.

  • While it’s true that the most successful students of online programs already possess a healthy work discipline, many online programs provide highly customizable curriculum that tailors to individual motivations, including those struggling with attention and retention difficulties.

  • While requirements differ from state to state—as they do for brick-and-mortar schools— accredited distance-learning program counselors help families identify transfer opportunities within primary and secondary schools, as well as at the collegiate level.