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Aurora Institute

iNACOL Policy Update – A Midsession Night’s Dream (and Much Ado about ESEA)

Education Domain Blog

Author(s): Maria Worthen, Susan Gentz

Issue(s): Federal Policy, Harness Opportunities in ESSA, State Policy, Create Pilots and Innovation Zones

April 3 – April 10, 2015

Congratulations for making it through the first half of the 2015 state legislative session. We know that some states have already finished their sessions, and some are just beginning, but the majority of states are right in the middle of their legislative sessions.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. Senate, it has been a very busy week. The Senate HELP Committee will mark up a bill to reauthorize ESEA on Tuesday. ESEA reauthorization offers an essential opportunity to better align systems of assessments and accountability to student-centered learning.

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.


  • iNACOL is currently tracking 97 bills in 31 states.


  • Mississippi and Arizona adjourned on April 3.


  • A bill that would allow for the establishment of public charter schools in Montana has been scheduled for a hearing on April 13.
  • The Utah Governor signed a bill on March 31 that directs the state to create a task force to develop a funding proposal for K-12 digital learning in the state.
  • A bill in Arkansas that would allow a school district to petition for waivers for the same levels of flexibility granted to a charter school was sent to the Governor for consideration on April 2.
  • A bill in Florida that relates to digital technology infrastructure planning passed the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education on April 8.
  • A bill in Alabama that requires every school district to adopt a policy to provide a virtual school option for qualifying students in grades 9-12 was amended and passed on April 2 by the Education Policy Committee.
  • A California bill that would appropriate $1,000,000 to train K-12 teachers to more effectively utilize technology and digital resources within their instructional day has been scheduled for a hearing on April 15.
  • A bill in Indiana that would establish zones for schools to innovate passed the Committee on Education and Career Development and was sent to the Finance Committee for further consideration on April 2.
  • In Oregon, a bill that would provide $700,000 for the continuation and possible expansion of proficiency-based teaching and learning demonstration sites was scheduled for a hearing on April 8 and a working session on April 13.
  • A measure in Rhode Island that would require the state to adopt a competency- or proficiency-based learning policy and model district policies was scheduled for a hearing on April 8.
  • In Tennessee, a bill that would extend the Virtual Public Schools Act to June 30, 2019, and repeal the sunset provision set for June 30, 2015 has been sent to the Governor for a signature.
  • A prohibitive data privacy bill in Missouri was scheduled for a hearing on April 8.


  • The United States Congress is in recess until April 13, 2015.
  • In the Senate, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee has released a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015. The bill is scheduled for consideration by the HELP Committee on Tuesday April 14, 2015 at 10:00 AM. The markup could last through Friday April 17, 2015. A link to a live-streamed video of the proceedings will be available on the day of the markup, here.
  • Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Representative John Kline (R-MN) have released a discussion draft for a bill to amend the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The sponsors encourage sharing and feedback on this bill. This bill is intended to move on its own, and not be included in an ESEA reauthorization bill.
  • Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO) and Luke Messer (R-IN) are planning to introduce the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act in the near future. iNACOL has provided feedback to the members’ staff on a draft of this bill.


The iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Symposium will be held November 8-11, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. Registration opened Tuesday, March 31.

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.