Keeping Pace With K12 Online Learning: A Review
of State-Level Policy and Practice
John F. Watson
Evergreen Consulting Associates
In 2004, four leading education organizations joined together to publish Keeping Pace With
K12 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 organizationsClark County
School District (Nevada), Florida Virtual School, Illinois Virtual High School, Learning Point
Associates, and Virtual High Schooljoined 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.