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Aurora Institute

iNACOL Legislative Update – ESEA Suddenly On Hold, Must be Friday the 13th

Education Domain Blog

Author(s): Maria Worthen

Issue(s): Federal Policy, Harness Opportunities in ESSA, State Policy, Create Enabling Conditions for Competency-Based Education

February 13-19, 2015

There is still a significant amount of legislation being introduced this session. Some states have already reached, or will reach committee deadlines soon. This means that bills that do not pass out of committee by a certain date will no longer be eligible for consideration. Mississippi has already passed its date, and Iowa’s committee deadline will be coming up within the next couple of weeks. We will continue to keep you updated on the status of bills that are of interest to the field.

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.


  • A bill in Arkansas would allow a district to petition the State Board of Education to waive the same regulations as they would for charter schools.
  • A bill we’ve been following in Iowa to extend the virtual academy pilot was amended and passed the House of Representatives. The amendment would allow students with disabilities to open enroll into one of the virtual academies, even if their attendance would exceed an online school’s enrollment cap.
  • A bill in Idaho would provide approved professional-technical online courses to any Idaho school district.
  • A Kentucky bill would put in place a plan to improve student learning and performance by expanding learning experiences for students with new or creative alternatives to existing instructional and administrative practices.
  • A bill in Maine would require the Department of Education to convene a stakeholder group to develop plans to establish online and digital learning opportunities.
  • In Minnesota, a bill would require every district to offer two nontraditional programs for grades K-12. The bill would also require the reporting of the effectiveness of the data annually.
  • A bill in Missouri requires each school district or charter school to develop a policy and system for identifying high school students who are in immediate need of remedial coursework and require each school district or charter school to develop an online learning program for these students.
  • Bills in Iowa, Rhode Island, and Tennessee have been introduced to address student data privacy concerns.


ESEA Update

  • Starting Wednesday, February 25, the U.S. House of Representatives will debate HR 5, the Student Success Act, which would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). A full House vote is scheduled for Friday. HR 5 would maintain the current requirement to administer annual assessments of student achievement in English Language Arts and Mathematics in grades 3-8 and once in high school. It removes federal adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations, giving states control over how they will structure their accountability systems. HR 5 eliminates more than 65 programs, including programs focused on literacy, math and science, and school counseling.
  • Worth noting: House Education and Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA) introduced an amendment during the House markup of HR 5 that would allow states to pilot next generation assessment systems to enable competency education. The amendment was defeated on a party line vote, but similar language has been filed as an amendment by Representative Suzanne Bonamici (OR) and could come up for a full House chamber vote.
  • In the Senate, the leadership of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) announced that they would proceed with a bipartisan process. A date for HELP Committee markup has not yet been announced—but we’ve heard that Chairman Lamar Alexander (TN) is aiming for the second week of March.

The application deadline to apply for E-Rate funds is February 26, 2015. This year, there are new eligible services, new rules, and a new online application for which the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) is asking for more granular data about what is being purchased than they have in the past. Technical assistance and archived webinars are available through USAC.


The iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Symposium will be held November 8-11, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. We are now accepting proposals for conference sessions through March 26. Access the Request for Proposals submission system here.

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

Not yet a member? Join iNACOL to gain access to this Membership Forum, job postings, announcements, grant opportunities, and the latest information from the field.