States with course choice policies (part 3)

Two previous posts have explored course choice policies generally, and states with course choice programs. In particular, the second blog post discussed how Keeping Pace defines states’ course choice programs as including one or more of state-supported online course websites, online course approval processes, or program-specific funding mechanisms. States in this category, such as Utah, Michigan, and Louisiana, are among those that are most often associated with course choice. In addition to those and other states that were discussed previously, four states have course choice policies in place. These states allow students to choose single online courses, but they do not have a program in place promoting course choice. Most of these states have had course choice policies in place for several years, and the number of students choosing individual online courses are fairly low (although Arizona appears to be an exception). In most cases, these states refer to students who choose an online course provider as part-time students of the provider.

  • Arizona: Any public district or charter school may apply to become an online learning provider as part of Arizona Online Instruction (AOI), and by doing so is able to serve any K–12 student in the state with part-time or full-time online courses. There are 66 school districts and 21 charter schools authorized for SY 2014–15. AOI schools served 48,357 unique students in part- and full-time programs in SY 2012–13 (the most recent year for which data were available when we were first doing this research several months ago). The state requires receiving districts to accept credits earned at a charter or district, but allows the receiving district to determine how the credit will be assigned (whether the credit will count as elective or core credit). Students cannot exceed 1 FTE, and funding is prorated for providers based on the percentage of ADM from each provider. Online programs are funded at 85% of base funding for PT students. Arizona does not have performance-based or completion-based funding.
  • Georgia: We classify Georgia as a course choice state although the state has only one provider from which students can choose an online course, which is different than other course choice states that have multiple providers. Students in grades 9–12 are allowed to take courses from Georgia Virtual School (GAVS), the state virtual school. They do not need approval from their home district, regardless of whether the school in which the student is enrolled offers the same course. GAVS receives $250 per student per course, as well as a $1.5 million appropriation for SY 2013–14. There is no performance-based or completion-based funding.
  • Kansas: Students in grades K–12 may choose part- and full-time options from state-approved providers, including virtual schools, charter schools, districts, and service centers; 93 providers are approved for SY 2014–15. Districts must make inter-district agreements for students to take supplemental online courses. In SY 2013–14, 5,559 students took supplemental online classes.

Students are considered “enrolled” at the school where they take the most coursework—face-to-face or virtual; the part-time school considers the student enrolled for the remaining minutes (of 360) of that student’s FTE.

  • Minnesota: Minnesota was among the first states to allow students to choose a single online course from among multiple providers. As of June 2014, 27 approved online learning public school providers represented a mix of consortia, intermediate districts, charter school programs, and multidistrict programs serving students statewide. Only approved providers generate funding. These programs served 11,557 supplemental course enrollments in SY 2013–14, a 16% annual increase.

Three states (Colorado, Oregon, and New Mexico) are not included in the Keeping Pace count of course choice states even though they have policies that suggest course choice may be an option. In these states no course choice measures have been implemented, and few or no students are taking individual online courses that are funded via the public education funding formula.

The Keeping Pace 2014 annual report (starting on page 58) and website include a table and a map summarizing course choice programs and policies. The map below summarizes the states with course choice programs and policies. Click on the map to see a larger version, or if your device doesn't support the larger version you can find it on the website.


Figure 3: States with course choice programs or policies only