Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Sue Poppink


Studies on alternative schools have previously been qualitative in nature and provided information on the characteristics of a quality alternative school. Quantitative research in the area of alternative education has been limited. Previous research involving NovaNET Online Curriculum has centered on credit recovery, remediation and a small amount has been conducted on student use of the system. Currently, many alternative schools are using NovaNET or other online curricula to assist students move towards graduation without the possibility of losing credit due to poor attendance. The system is being marketed as a means for students to earn additional credits and progress towards graduation faster. In addition, it is also market as a means to meet NCLB and ED Yes requirements to narrow the achievement gap, and as an online learning experience now required by the Michigan Merit Curriculum. Is the NovaNET system working for the alternative high school population, and if so, is it working for all students equally based on learning style, reading level, gender, ethnicity and age? This study combined archived data from one alternative school for 135 subjects from 2005-2008. The dataset consisted of number of completed courses, gender, ethnicity, NWEA Reading RIT score and lexile score, age at the time of the NWEA test, and number of semesters enrolled. Several statistical analyses were conducted including basic descriptive statistics, analyses of variance (ANOVA), t-tests, a traditional least squares regression (LS), and a more robust Wilcoxon analysis. In summary, NovaNET Online curriculum is allowing students to earn credit potentially at a faster rate than a traditional classroom experience. However, a majority (70%) is earning the same number of credits as a regular classroom experience while enrolled, and only 30% are actually earning additional credits towards graduation. Females are outperforming males, and a minimum 8 th grade reading level is needed to improve the likelihood of earning more credits than in a classroom experience. Age and number of semesters enrolled both had positive correlations with number of completed courses. This study revealed that though NovaNET online curriculum is a useful tool, it is not working equally for all alternative students.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access