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Keeping Pace With K–12 Online Learning: A Review of State-Level Policy and Practice

October 2005

John F. Watson
Evergreen Consulting Associates

In 2004, four leading education organizations joined together to publish Keeping Pace With K–12 Online Learning: A Snapshot of State-Level Policy and Practice. That report identified the growth of online education programs and discussed how online education practices are being developed in the absence of clear state-level guidance. It suggested that the window for proactively developing such guidance ahead of practice is closing. The strong reception that Keeping Pace received suggests that many educators recognize the validity and timeliness of the issues raised in the report. In light of the continued need for this type of policy research, in early 2005 five organizations—Clark County School District (Nevada), Florida Virtual School, Illinois Virtual High School, Learning Point Associates, and Virtual High School—joined to fund and guide a second phase of the research.

This report builds on the original Keeping Pace and adds new research in three primary areas:

  • Extending that original study of 11 states to all 50 states.
  • Following the continuing trends and developments in the original 11 states.
  • Exploring ways in which laws and policies may proactively shape online education.

As with the original Keeping Pace, this report explores policies and practices governing online education with a particular focus on policies aiming to provide students with high-quality online learning experiences. The report looks specifically at two areas: state-level policies governing online education, and statewide online programs (i.e., programs created by legislation or by a state-level agency, and/or funded or administered by a state department of education or another state-level agency to provide online learning opportunities across the state). Examples of statewide online programs include the Florida Virtual School, Illinois Virtual High School, and University of California College Preparatory Initiative.

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