Of all the innovations and policy reform proposals in education, it is online learning that is gathering public support most rapidly. In just one year—from 2009 to 2010—the percentage of Americans who think that high school students should be given credit for courses taken online has jumped from 42 percent to 52 percent. Opposition has dropped from 29 percent to 23 percent, with the balance taking a neutral position. Despite the reluctance of teachers to support the idea, and despite its cost-saving implications, Democrats are more favorable to the teaching of high school courses online than Republicans are.
All this is reported in the 4th annual survey of public opinion on educational issues by Harvard’s Program on Educational Policy and Governance and Education Next, which I, with William Howell and Martin West, help to direct. We also found that support for letting middle school students take online courses for credit moved upward from 35 percent to 43 percent, with opposition falling from 34 percent to 26 percent. (Results from the full survey—covering a wide range of educational issues–were released today.)