May 13, 2014

California blended learning student numbers update

In a recent post reporting on the California online and blended learning student numbers we said this:

“The CLRN report counts 150,589 students “participating in blended learning” in school year 2013-14. The CLRN research is a census, not a sample, and given that the student count comes from 31% of districts in California, the number of students in blended learning is likely much higher than reported in the census. We are looking further into these numbers, but pending further study it seems reasonable to assume that at least 250,000 students in California are involved in blended learning.”

We asked CLRN for more details on the numbers reported in California eLearning Census 2014, because California has a large number of very small districts, so it was possible that the 31% of districts represented the large majority of students in California. That was not the case, however. Brian Bridges of CLRN told us the following:

“The 569 districts and charters have a total enrollment of  2,053,779 students. Given that California has 6,236,672 students, our 31% participation rate was representative of 33% of all CA students.” A likely bias still exists in that districts with online and blended courses are more likely to respond than those without. Still, Brian estimates that the total number of blended students is likely at least double the number counted, which would mean more than 300,000 students are in blended courses or programs in California.

In addition to the bias there is also a definitional and self-reporting issue—would we agree with all of the respondents who judge their programs as “blended?” I don’t know, and that issue is worth further exploration. Still, having an estimate for the number of students taking part in blended learning in the country’s most populous state is tremendously valuable.

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