One of the yearly reports I always look forward to reading each year and is always released at the iNACOL Symposium is the report: “Keeping Pace with K-12 Online and Blended Learning: An Annual Review of Policy and Practice.” The Keeping Pace Report is a survey of all states and how K-12 online learning and blended learning are being used in each state. One of the first things I always do is check the snapshot of the state I live in (California) to see what is happening in my state.
John Watson and Amy Murin shared the overview of the new report with the State Virtual School Leaders PreConference at the symposium. John and Amy shared some interesting findings of the current report that stood out for me.
The process of counting online students in supplemental programs is: One student taking one semester of one online course.
In 2009 there were 27 states with state virtual schools and in 2013 there are still 27 states with state virtual schools but some have been added and some states are no longer funding state virtual schools.
A course choice program in Keeping Pace is defined as:
- Students to choose to take a course from one or more providers
- A district cannot deny a student’s request to enroll in an out-of-district course
- Funding follows the student at the course level
The State of Florida is the lead in many of these areas for three reasons:
- Florida Virtual School was established in 1986 and is consistently the largest statewide virtual school
- Florida is a school choice state by law (and has been for many years)
- There is a law that requires all schools to offer some type of online program options for students
Blended Learning is included in the Keeping Pace 2013 report. See p. 19 for the chart. The authors have done a good job of beginning to count the number of states that have blended learning schools.
The Keeping Pace Report defines fully blended learning schools as:
- A stand-alone school with a school code
- Much of the curriculum is delivered online
- Attendance is required at a physical site during the school year for more than just state assessments
The ongoing challenge is how to define what “much of the curriculum is delivered online” really looks like. Until districts and states really start to count blended learning students, this will be a challenge. But, maybe it is not important to count students. After all, the more important questions are:
- Are students learning?
- Are students engaged in learning?
- What strategies or educational structures most engage student learning?
- Are students prepared for college and the world of work?