The Use of Online Learning to Increase Student College and Career Readiness in High Schools in the Cumberland Region of Tennessee

Grant Swallows, Tennessee State University


The purpose of this study was to determine how school principals in the Cumberland region of Tennessee use online courses as a part of a curriculum program to help make students ready for postsecondary pursuits. The problem investigated was whether the use of online courses is meeting the college and career readiness standards in this region. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) mandates that students receive access to courses that will prepare them to be college and career ready in postsecondary pursuits. Online courses continue to be a growing part of school curriculum programs. Following Hallinger’s theory of instructional leadership, principals are tasked with meeting the need to prepare students for postsecondary pursuits. In Tennessee, schools are held accountable for this requirement by measuring how many students take courses labeled as an Early PostSecondary Opportunity (EPSO). This study used survey research to gather information from the 90 high school principals in this region. There were 56 respondents and that data was used to determine the principal’s belief in the implementation of online courses that meet the EPSO requirement as well as other areas related to secondary education. The principal’s belief of effectiveness of online courses was also studied. Approximately 87.5% of principals who responded reported that online courses were being used to meet the EPSO requirement. Every respondent indicated that online courses were being used in some way in each school. After performing correlation tests including Spearman’s Rho, one-way ANOVA, and an independent samples t-test, there was no statistically significant relationship indicated between the principal’s belief of implementation and the school’s graduation rate, Ready Graduate Indicator, enrollment size, and locality. This study did conclude that online courses are being used frequently to meet the requirement postsecondary readiness and other areas. From this study, it is recommended that future research be done to determine the quality of those online programs and what specific courses are being offered online.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Educational evaluation|Educational technology

Recommended Citation

Grant Swallows, "The Use of Online Learning to Increase Student College and Career Readiness in High Schools in the Cumberland Region of Tennessee" (2021). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI28776090.