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Aurora Institute

15 Bills to Put on Your Radar | iNACOL Policy Update

Education Domain Blog

Author(s): Dale Frost, Maria Worthen

Issue(s): Federal Policy, Increase Access to Broadband, State Policy, Create Pilots and Innovation Zones

The introduction of new legislation continues to slow down significantly, but action in legislative committees and within entire chambers continues to ramp up as they hold hearings and votes on bills.

The purpose of this blog is to share policy developments in the field of K-12 online learning, blended learning, and competency education – to highlight recent trends, enablers, identify barriers and provide an issues update. It includes a snapshot of important education policies, regulations, gubernatorial, and legislative affairs.

A summary is below; a more detailed version with additional legislative information is available in the members-only iNACOL Member Forums. We track policy priorities and issues related to the field’s needs as outlined annually in the iNACOL State Policy Frameworks. This report provides background information and recommendations for issues on the critical policy shifts needed to transform K-12 education.

State Policy Highlights

  • iNACOL is currently tracking 83 bills in 28 states

Legislative Calendars and Deadlines

  • Utah adjourned its 2015 legislative session on March 12, 2015.
  • West Virginia adjourned its 2015 legislative session on March 15, 2015. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced an extended session immediately following adjournment but to only consider the state budget.
  • New Mexico is expected to adjourn its session on March 21, 2015.
  • Louisiana is now pre-filing bills for its 2015 legislative session, which will convene on April 13, 2015.
  • The following Governors, by the following dates, must act on bills or they become law without a signature:
    • Wyoming Governor Matt Mead – March 21
    • Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe – March 29
    • Utah Governor Gary Herbert – April 1

iNACOL Testimony

  • On Wednesday, iNACOL President and CEO Susan Patrick was in Columbus, Ohio testifying before the Finance Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education in support of the competency education pilot program in HB 64. Her written testimony is available here.

New Legislation

  • A bill in Alabama would require school districts to adopt policies to allow for at least online option, whether full-time or supplemental, for high school students attending the district.
  • A bill in Arkansas would require the state to move to a “student-centered assessment system.”
  • A bill in Ohio would provide $2.5 million to create 10 competency-based education pilot sites.
  • Two Utah bills passed out of the House of Representatives. One would require the State Board of Education to adopt mathematics competencies for high school graduation. The other would form a task force to create a funding proposal for K-12 digital learning in the state.

Bills on the move

  • A bill in Illinois that would create a course access program has been scheduled for a hearing.
  • Another Illinois bill that would create a state virtual school, to provide full-time and supplemental online instruction, has been scheduled for a hearing.
  • A course access bill in Missouri passed out of committee in the House.
  • A bill in Montana that would prohibit school districts to charge students for enrolling in online courses through the Montana Digital Academy passed the Senate.
  • Bills in Arkansas, Kentucky, and Mississippi that would give districts flexibility from certain rules and regulations in order to implement innovative, personalized learning environments, passed out of at least one chamber in each of these states.
  • A bill in Florida that would improve digital technology infrastructure planning passed out of the Florida Senate Education Committee.
  • An Idaho bill that would provide online career and technical education courses to Idaho school districts passed unanimously out of the House of Representatives.
  • A bill in West Virginia that would allow for the creation of charter schools, which specifically prohibits online charters, passed out of committee.

Federal Policy Highlights

  • E-Rate Extension: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced an extension of the E-Rate application deadline. The new deadline is April 16, 2015 (the original deadline was March 26, 2015). The extension will give schools and libraries additional time to become familiar with new program requirements that were put in place in the FCC’s December 2014 E-Rate modernization vote.
  • i3 proposed priority: In a notice published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, the US Department of Education proposed a new priority on comprehensive high school reform for the Investing in Innovation (i3) grant program. Under this priority, the Department would provide funding to support comprehensive high school reform and redesign strategies in Title I high schools with the aim of increasing graduation rates and college- and career-readiness. According to the notice, “These strategies could include elements such as implementing a rigorous college- and career-ready curriculum; providing accelerated learning opportunities; supporting personalized learning; developing robust links between student work and real-world experiences to better prepare students for their future; improving the readiness of students for post-secondary education in STEM fields; or reducing the need for remediation, among others.” Comment on this proposed priority is due by April 16, 2015. More information on the notice and submitting comment available here.

2015 iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Symposium

Want more?

  • Already a member? Access the more detailed legislative highlights through the Membership Forum.
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