New Digital Learning Report Highlights State Progress and Underscores the Need to Modernize Public Education

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 21, 2013

CONTACT:
Jackie Barreiros
(850) 391-4090
jackie@excelined.org

New Digital Learning Report Highlights State Progress and Underscores the Need to Modernize Public Education

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Digital Learning Now! (DLN) today released the 2012 Digital Learning Report Card, which measures each of the nation’s 50 states against the 10 Elements of High Quality Digital Learning as it relates to K-12 education. State policy plays a central role in either accelerating or constraining the scaling of next-generation models of learning.

The 2012 report shows states are advancing student-centric reforms, reducing barriers to blended learning, and encouraging the use of technology to offer a more personalized college- and career-ready education. In 2012, more than 700 bills involving digital learning were considered and more than 152 were signed into law, with nearly every state enacting a bill that advanced a digital learning policy.

“It’s encouraging to see the number of states that have put students first through legislation that helps modernize our education system for the 21st century. We need leaders in every state who are willing to make the necessary changes so that student-centered education is a reality. I am confident we can meet the challenges ahead, but only if we harness the opportunities afforded to us through technology and innovation,” said Jeb Bush, former Florida governor and chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd).

States are racing to modernize their policy to create new opportunities for students, explore new models of learning, and provide needed infrastructure. Examples from the 2012 legislative session:

  • Louisiana, Georgia and Utah are leading the way in adopting “course choice” programs that offer students the option to take publicly-funded, online courses from providers approved by the state.
  • Massachusetts, Arizona and Iowa, among others, passed legislation designed to support competency-based models of education in which credit is awarded based on mastery instead of seat time.
  • Maine, Utah and Alabama, are exploring new approaches to help schools provide Internet-enabled devices for all students.

Even with the progress achieved in 2012, only six states – Utah, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, Virginia, and Kansas – received an A or B, indicating that considerable work is needed to offer America’s students a high-quality digital learning experience and modernize an outdated K-12 education system for all students.

“A great deal of work is still needed to modernize an outdated K-12 education system for all students, but we have seen significant progress this past year,” said John Bailey, executive director of DLN. “The purpose of this report card is to highlight that progress, and provide states with policy examples for creating the conditions necessary to support high quality, next-generation models of learning.”

The 2012 report offers a comprehensive state-by-state analysis of laws and policies that embrace new models, utilize technology to meet the needs of all students and eliminate the barriers that inhibit innovation in K-12 education. It identifies opportunities for reform and highlights states that are making strides in offering high-quality digital learning options.

State policymakers are urged to advance bold reforms by:

  1. Using Digital Learning to Accelerate Education Reform: Make digital learning a priority and a means by which to accelerate state education reform.
  2. Making an Unwavering Commitment to Quality: Ensure every policy makes an unwavering commitment to quality as measured by improved student outcomes. Low-performing providers and schools should be shut down, and high-performing ones should be scaled.
  3. Expanding Course Choice: Establish more statewide course choice programs in which states approve a portfolio of high-quality courses from multiple providers. Like teacher reciprocity, states should consider entering into agreements to recognize the courses approved in other states that use a rigorous review and approval process.
  4. Expanding Student Eligibility: Ensure all students in the state are provided access to high-quality online courses.
  5. Reforming Funding Streams: Reform funding models, particularly for online learning, to award completion and success instead of simply attendance. Funding should reinforce quality and improved outcomes.
  6. Funding the Student: Fund the student instead of the system, so portions of the per-pupil funding follow the student to the course providers and schools serving them.
  7. Embracing Competency-based Education: End the archaic practice of seat time and establish a competency-based model that requires students demonstrate mastery of the material in order to earn credit.
  8. Creating Space for Innovation: Explore innovation waivers that allow schools to apply for regulatory relief around administrative, procurement, or instructional barriers.
  9. Accelerating the Shift to Digital Content: Expand the definitions of textbooks and instructional resources to allow flexibility in funding digital content, online resources and Internet-access devices. Use the process of evaluating instructional resource alignment to Common Core State Standards to accelerate the adoption of digital content and resources.
  10. Strengthening Data Collections: Improve the monitoring of implementation and outcomes through improved district surveys to better capture student enrollment and completion rates in online courses, student performance measures, blended learning implementation and adoption of competency-based models.

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State Leaders on the 2012 Report Card:

  • “Digital Learning Now! provided tremendous help to me during the entire legislative process, from identifying key reforms to pursue to assisting with research and strategy for final passage of my bill. Digital learning, the future of education, maximizes achievement by allowing students to learn at their own time, place, path, or pace,” said Minnesota State Representative Pam Myhra.
  • “In order to be effective and reach every single student, education in Louisiana must continue adapting to our increasingly digital world. The Course Choice Program passed last year is a big step in the right direction. In addition to dual enrollment with postsecondary education and coursework created by business and industry, Course Choice is open to virtual providers that empower students to customize their learning experience, individualizing education and expanding access to more content like foreign languages, advanced math and science, and other electives. In addition, Louisiana has virtual charter schools and a number of school districts that are taking their own initiative to start virtual education. The Digital Learning Now! Report Cards have helped shed light on practical, attainable goals that can help states integrate more technology and innovation in the classroom. Indeed – here in Louisiana, we see course choice as the beginning of a new, exciting path toward modernizing, improving and customizing education for all students,” said Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
  • “Digital Learning Now! has become the recognized source for advancing American education through technology-driven solutions. The report is a helpful resource for legislators to determine where their state ranks, how they can improve, and what other great ideas are being implemented,” said Former Georgia Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers. “Ultimately, students will greatly benefit as we transform American education from a factory model to a system that can truly individualize in a manner we have never realized before. Thankfully Digital Learning Now! is helping lead the way to this brighter future.”
  • “Parents for Choice in Education, an education advocacy organization, uses the Digital Learning Report Card as a measuring stick to identify areas for personalizing education and shifting the paradigm to student-centered learning in Utah. Seeking constant improvement, multiple initiatives such as competency, blended learning, seat-time removal, and smarter use of student data are currently being advanced through policy in our state,” said Robyn Bagley, Board Chair of Parents for Choice in Education (PCE). “PCE appreciates the standards set by the report card and the challenge issued to meet the metrics for integrating technology and innovation into our schools in order to raise student achievement in Utah!”
  • “Digital learning provides the greatest possibility that every student in every corner of the Commonwealth, or the country, can have a quality education. It removes barriers and levels the playing field for all students. We cannot guarantee outcomes for our students, but digital learning makes it possible to guarantee the same opportunities for all students,” said Virginia Delegate Richard P. Bell.
  • “Virtual learning is a very important component of today’s educational system. Rural communities can use it to offer Advanced Placement and other honor classes to their students where otherwise they would not be able to afford a teacher for small classes. There are also children who can benefit greatly from virtual learning, such as disabled children unable to leave the home or children seeking opportunities in the arts or athletics that may take them away from home often,” said Janet Barresi, Oklahoma Superintendent of Education. “I know of two children in Oklahoma whose parents are missionaries. They are able to travel with their parents while receiving a quality education through virtual learning opportunities. Technology is changing our world and in the spirit of preparing all our children to be college, career and citizen ready, we must take advantage of the learning opportunities that technology has to offer.”

Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtags #DLNReportCard and #DigLN, or use the sample tweets below to spread the word.

  • The 2012 #DLNReportCard was just released from our friends at @DigLearningNow. Check out the results at http://bit.ly/10c8ftk
  • What grade did your state receive on the 2012 @DigLearningNow report card? Results here: http://bit.ly/10c8ftk #DLNReportCard
  • Just released: The @DigLearningNow team measures how states align to the 10 Elements of High Quality Digital Learning #DLNReportCard

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About the 10 Elements of High Quality Digital Learning

In 2010, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise organized a diverse group of nearly 100 leaders in education, government, philanthropy, business, technology and policy to identify specific issues and policies states need to address in order to support emerging next-generation models of learning. The Council’s work produced a consensus around the 10 Elements of High Quality Digital Learning. The 10 elements are: student eligibility, student access, personalized learning, advancement, quality content, quality instruction, quality choices, assessment and accountability, funding, and infrastructure.

Digital Learning Now! is an initiative under ExcelinEd with the goal of advancing state policies that will create a high-quality digital learning environment to better equip all students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in this 21st-century economy. The policy framework stems from the belief that access to high-quality, customized learning experiences should be available to all students, unbounded by geography or artificial policy constraints.