You are now leaving the high school website and entering the university site.


You are now leaving the high school website and entering the university site.


You are now leaving the high school website and entering the university site.


You are now leaving the high school website and entering the university site.


You are now leaving the high school website and entering the university site.

Research Evidence

robotics club

We strive to build effective evidence-based programs for our students, parents and partners.

ASU is a Tier 1 research university and the ASU Prep staff prides itself in exploring innovative ways to improve student performance. Please review the documents linked below for all the details around our research and ESSA compliance levels.

ASU Prep Academy
Tier 1
Tier 2
Tier 3
Evidence Report Links

Distance Learning

Strong evidence for supplementary web-based learning tools in distance education.

Fully Digital Asynchronous Instruction

ASU K-8 Student online learning program significantly  correlated with growth outcome standards

Individual Online Coursework

  • Online Algebra 1 increased end-of year Math scores and 
  • Online Algebra 1 resulted in greater advanced math course enrollment.
  • Homework provided online increases end of year math scores for 7th grade students.

Blended Learning

Online instruction in Math increases scores on standardized tests.

Tier 1
Tier 2
Tier 3
Evidence Report Links

AI-Driven Intelligent Tutoring

  • Online intelligent tutor significantly improves reading comprehension.
  • Online intelligent tutor increased efficacy when delivered with strong individualized learning
Tier 1
Tier 2
Tier 3
Evidence Report Links

Exact Path Fully Digital Online Curriculum

  • Exact Path usage shows significant Mathematics impact.
  • Exact Path usage shows significant Reading impact.

Time spent on Exact Path is significantly correlated with end of year achievement

FAQ for Online and Blended Learning Evidence

Is there direct evidence to support ASU Prep Digital effectiveness?

Tier 3 Promising Evidence for effectiveness of ASU K-8 Fully Digital Online Learning: EDataSci (2023). ASU Prep Digital Academy: Evidence of Effectiveness

Tier 2 Moderate Evidence for ASU Exact Path Curriculum Century Analytics (2018). Impacts of Edmentum’s Exact Path on Student Mathematics Achievement

Tier 2 Moderate Evidence for ASU’s Exact Path Curriculum Century Analytics (2018). Impacts of Edmentum’s Exact Path on Student Mathematics Achievement
Are online and blended learning recognized as evidence-based practices?

Meta Analysis
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development (2009), Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies. Washington, D.C.

The meta-analysis found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.

Meta Analysis
Means, B, Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., Baki. M. (2013). The Effectiveness of Online and Blended Learning: A Meta-Analysis of the empirical literature. Teachers College Record, 115 (3), 1–47.

The meta-analysis found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed modestly better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.

Meta Analysis
Bernard, R.M., Abrami, P.C., Lou, Y., Borokhovsk, E., Wade, A.,  Wozney, L., Wallet, P.A.,  Fiset, M., and Huang, B. (2004). How Does Distance Education Compare with Classroom Instruction? A Meta-Analysis of empirical literature. Review of Educational Research, 74(3), 379–439.

Effect sizes for asynchronous applications favored distance education.

Effect sizes for synchronous applications favored classroom instruction.
Is online learning an evidence-based practice for English and Math using the stringent ESSA rules of Tier 1 and Tier2 evidence-based criteria, such as found in the What Works Clearinghouse?

What Works Clearinghouse, (2021).  (Sahni, S. D., Polanin, J. R., Zhang, Q., Michaelson, L. E., Caverly, S., Polese, M. L., & Yang, J.)  A What Works Clearinghouse Rapid Evidence Review of Distance Learning Programs. ERIC. 

Programs that used more innovative approaches—programs that were adaptive may offer the best opportunity for success in remote learning.

A meta-analysis found that, on average, students in the distance learning programs improved in the English language arts outcome domain.

Additional strong evidence for distance learning improvement in Mathematics had previously been documented by WWC. Citations for Tier 1 and Tier 2 mathematics studies evidence are cited below:

Heppen, J.B., Walters, K, Clements, M., Faria, A., Tobey, C., Sorenson, N., Culp, K, Garcia, G. (2011). Access to Algebra I: The Effects of Online Mathematics for Grade 8 Students. ERIC

Bottge, B.A., Ma, X., Gassaway, L., Toland, M.D., Butler, M. and Cho, S. (2014). Effects of Blended Instructional Models on Math Performance. Exceptional Children, 80 (4), 423–37.
What are appropriate grades for digital learning?
Research supports the effectiveness of distance learning from elementary to college level courses. Distance learning is particularly effective in post-secondary education and has become a staple of college curriculum.

Distance learning is effective for elementary and secondary students, yielding significant effect sizes compared to traditional classroom instruction.

Research in middle schools has been an active area of investigation and this research reveals high effectiveness in grades 7-9.
Is there a research consensus on the effectiveness of online learning?
Academic reviews of research comparing online to face-to-face learning have consistently found that digital learning performs as well as or better than face to face. Gains in online learning should typically not be attributed to the modality but rather on attributes of the instruction. 

Attributes that make a difference include instructional design, degree of personalization, and direct guidance in giving feedback. These and other aspects of the medium can contribute to a positive, equivalent learning experience (Simonson, M. (2019). Research in distance education: a summary. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 20(2), 31-43.)

Online learning research continues to identify strong evidence for factors that make online learning work, such as the philosophy and theory of learning, context of the intervention, variation in the presentation of material (e.g., synchronous/asynchronous), additional learning time, opportunity for collaboration, quality of staff support, end economic efficiency of the modalities.
How do online and blended learning improve student outcomes?
Effective digital learning provides multiple pathways to improved student outcomes.

Approach to Curriculum. Researchers in learning science emphasize that the “active ingredient” of online learning is not the technology platform. Experts agree that the effect of instruction on learning depends on the curriculum, the instructional methods, and the quality of staff.

It is thought that online and blended learning achieve their effect indirectly through technology insofar as technology enables large scale implementation of personalized, adaptive learning methods such as intelligent tutoring, online guided discovery learning, ability of students to pursue curriculum at their own pace. Technology enables these things but technology itself is not the reason for effectiveness. A district can’t merely put computers in front of children. Success depends on the knowledge and talent of staff who implement an effective learning program.

Geographical Factors. Rural students with lack of access to mainstream or upper-level coursework (blended learning) sometimes fail to thrive due to the sheer unavailability of coursework. Some of online learning’s effectiveness stems from increased availability of curriculum.

Student Characteristics. Many students prefer technology for learning, homework, and time management. Success depends on psychological factors such as self-regulation, resilience, and self-efficacy.
What outcomes has distance learning been shown to influence?
Standardized achievement tests. Online learning has been shown to be effective in Reading, ELA, and Math. Student growth is comparable to other instruction methods, and in some cases moderately better.

College readiness. Online math instruction (Heppen, et. al, 2011) has been shown to precipitate significantly greater pursuit of advanced mathematics compared to classroom instruction. Advanced mathematics is an important factor in college admission.
How do I respond to reports that online learning is not effective?
You should clarify the claim being suggested. There are certainly many studies meeting WWC design standards that indicate online learning programs as effective or in some settings more effective than traditional instructional methods.

A claim that there is “no evidence” for effectiveness of online learning may have been the case twenty years ago, but it is certainly not true today.

Much of federal funding for elementary and secondary schools is linked to evidence based on ESSA evidence standards. Research indicating the effectiveness of online learning meets ESSA evidence standards.

1Jeffrey T. McLeod (2023) Learning Gains in a Fully Online K-8 Curriculum During a Pandemic, American Journal of Distance Education, DOI: 10.1080/08923647.2023.2227029