Online options still determined by zip code

Keeping Pace with K-12 Online and Blended Learning 2012 has been released, and in this and subsequent blog posts we will take a deeper dive into some of the trends and themes identified in this year’s report. Let’s start with a theme identified in 2011 that still applies in 2012, and is perhaps the most important message in this year’s report: Many states have created or allowed some online and blended learning opportunities, but no state has yet created or allowed a full range of online learning options for students…

The report goes on to explain that there is one exception:

Florida in 2012 has passed laws that, in theory at least, make a full range of supplemental and full-time online options available to all K-12 students. At the other end of the spectrum, in many states at least some students still have few or no online options; their educational opportunities continue to be determined by their zip code.

While online and blended learning are readily available in some areas (states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania offer many online charter options; fully blended schools like Rocketship and Carpe Diem are getting attention and opening in new states; district programs are expanding), the reality is that many public school students across the country still do not have supplemental and/or fully online options available to them. This is especially true when funding is factored into the equation, as even many state virtual schools charge a per-enrollment course fee. (See the Online Learning Activity by State table on pp. 13-16 to see what options are available to students in each state.)

Florida continues to set the pace by legislating that most districts must make three options available to their students, including supplemental courses for elementary students (the last frontier even in states with progressive online learning policies and programs). We will continue to watch Florida closely to see how this plays out in practice, and to see if students take advantage of all of these opportunities.

While we are pleased to see online and blended learning options growing for some K-12 students, we would like to see online and blended learning options growing for all K-12 students.