Update on post-secondary online learning reciprocity

An earlier post explored The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). As explained on its website, SARA is encouraging agreements “among its member states and U.S. territories that establishes comparable national standards for interstate offering of postsecondary distance-education courses and programs. It is intended to make it easier for students to take online courses offered by postsecondary institutions based in another state.” That blog post, written in May 2015, concluded by noting that “it’s worth watching what happens with SARA.” Based on news since then, it SARA appears to be growing.

  • At the end of June the Rutland Herald reported that Vermont was joining SARA. (The Herald article is paywalled; synopsis is here.)
  • In mid-July, University Business reported that “Arkansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee were approved by the Southern Regional Education Board this week to join the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA).”
  • Later in July, Illinois became the 28th state overall and the ninth state in the Midwest to enter the compact, joining Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Ohio.

As has been reported in several of the articles linked above, the effort is being funded by the Lumina Foundation primarily (with a $3 million grant) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ($200,000). Although it’s still unclear whether the agreements will result in meaningful changes to students, the fact that more than half of all states have signed on seems to be a significant development.