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Aurora Institute

iNACOL Policy Update – Alabama’s legislature passes online high school options bill

Education Domain Blog

Author(s): Maria Worthen, Susan Gentz

Issue(s): Issues in Practice

April 24 – May 1, 2015

The passage of an Alabama bill to provide online learning options for all public high school students represents a shift in thinking for the state. The bill would require each local board of education to adopt a policy providing, at a minimum, at least one online option, whether full-time or part-time, for eligible high school students by school year 2016-2017. Alabama is showing leadership in providing access to multiple learning modalities that best fit students’ needs. This is a clear example of a policy that is in line with one of the five elements of the iNACOL State Policy Frameworks—to improve access and equity for every student, ensuring they have opportunities to learn through the full range of blended and online learning environments.

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.


  • Indiana adjourned April 29, 2015.
  • North Dakota adjourned April 30, 2015.
  • Montana will adjourn May 1, 2015.


  • The House Education Committee in California passed a bill on April 29 that would allow increased flexibility for charter schools with the amount of time students must receive direct instruction in a physical classroom.
  • A bill in North Carolina, which expresses intent for the state to move to a system of competency-based learning assessments to measure student performance and growth, passed the House Education Committee and the full House of Representatives on April 21.
  • In Alabama, a bill has been sent to the Governor that requires each school district to offer at least one online learning option, whether full-time or part-time, to every Alabama high school student.
  • The Ohio budget bill, which includes a provision to allocate $2.5 million to create up to ten competency-based education pilot schools, passed the full House of Representatives on April 27, and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.
  • An Oklahoma bill that would give jurisdiction to the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board to establish a process to review and certify supplemental online courses passed the Senate on April 22.


  • A data privacy bill was introduced on April 29 by Representatives Luke Messer (R-IN) and Jared Polis (D-CO). The “Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015,” would, if passed, govern the use and protection of student data privacy by defining responsibilities and rights of third party providers, educational institutions, and parents. The bill’s sponsors stated that their “aim was to address four broad goals: better protecting student privacy, empowering parents, encouraging innovative uses of technology in the classroom, and ensuring strong accountability in the ed-tech industry.” Reactions to the bill are mixed, but most agree it is a starting point to build parental trust and provides a baseline to continue conversations regarding student data privacy at the federal level.


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.

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