Trends emerging in Keeping Pace 2013 research

The Keeping Pace research team is well into our state profiling. Some of the early trends that we are seeing include the following: 1. The move to blended learning continues

Keeping Pace and other researchers and publications have discussed the emergence of blended learning for several years; this is not a new trend. Still, the fact that blended learning is being explored or implemented by organizations that were previously mostly or entirely online, joining schools that started as blended and are expanding, is significant. K12 Inc. and Connections Education are increasingly adding blended schools, the blended charter school networks such as Rocketship and Carpe Diem continue to expand, other charter schools and networks such as Aspire and Summit are focusing even more on blended learning, and some supplemental online course providers such as Florida Virtual School are implementing blended learning as well. In the past we and others such as the Christensen Institute have suggested that there is a natural limit to how many students will learn entirely online, and it appears that the number of such students is slowing below even the lower end estimates.

2. Somewhat counter to the first point, we are seeing school districts offering more fully online schools, in addition to their blended options. This is especially true in states that allow statewide online schools, where districts feel that they are losing students to online schools operating across multiple districts. Relatively large school districts in this category include Philadelphia and Nashville.

3. The spread of fully online statewide schools to new states has slowed. States that have been considering allowing such schools, including Maine, North Carolina, and New Jersey, have not moved ahead with them. New Mexico, which approved a new statewide online school that will open for SY 2013-14, is an exception.

4. Course choice from among multiple providers is getting lots of attention, but is still in the very early stages. No state that has implemented course choice has shown results that are close to the numbers of course enrollments, or successful outcomes, of large state virtual schools in Florida, North Carolina, Alabama, Hew Hampshire, Michigan, and other states. As we have discussed previously, several of these course choice programs are still evolving, and in at least some states the leadership appears committed to course choice. Still, the states that are considering implementing course choice for the first time, perhaps instead of continuing appropriations for a state virtual school, should look not just at the promise of these programs, but at the outcomes so far.