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Aurora Institute

iNACOL Policy Update – Enabling Policies to Transform K-12 Education

Education Domain Blog

Author(s): Maria Worthen, Susan Gentz

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

January 23-29, 2015

January is coming to a close and the introduction of new bills should start to slow down soon. The work is just beginning, however; we’ll be tracking these bills’ movements as state sessions progress. Keep checking back to see what legislation is gaining traction in the 2015 session.

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 and enablers, to identify barriers, and to 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.


Utah convened for session on January 26, 2015.

There were four bills of interest in Mississippi this week:

  • To establish a Council for Education Technology and provide access to individualized instruction through computer-based technology;
  • To establish the Digital Access Learning and Virtual Instruction Program Act;
  • To authorize an innovation zones program (a companion bill to a bill introduced last week in the Senate); and
  • To require all districts in the state to develop and implement wireless technology infrastructure.

Bills in New York and Indiana address student data privacy, and provide for safeguards while ensuring students and teachers can use data in the classroom to improve student learning.


Senate ESEA Reauthorization Hearings:

  • Supporting Teachers and School Leaders:On Tuesday, January 27, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) held its second hearing for ESEA reauthorization in the 114th  The topic of the hearing was “Fixing No Child Left Behind: Supporting Teachers and School Leaders.” Witnesses included Dr. Dan Goldhaber, Director of the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research; Ms. Rochelle Moore, 1st grade teacher at Madrona K-8 Seattle, WA; Dr. Terry Holiday, Commissioner of Education in Kentucky; Dr. Christine Handy-Collins, Principal of Gaithersburg High School in Maryland; and Mr. Saul Hinojosa, who is the Superintendent of Schools in Somerset, Texas. You can watch a video of the hearing, see a full witness list, and read their testimonies here.
  • Innovation to Better Meet the Needs of Students:The HELP Committee has scheduled a third hearing on ESEA reauthorization for Tuesday, February 3 at 10:00 AM ET. The title of this roundtable hearing is “Fixing No Child Left Behind: Innovation to Better Meet the Needs of Students.” Compared to the traditional format, roundtable hearings are physically configured with senators and witnesses seated in a round table set up, and they tend to have longer witness lists and allow more time for Q&A between committee members and witnesses. Check here for hearing location, a witness list, testimony, and a live video link.


In line with the recent announcement of its priorities for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), CCSSO has recently released a new resource to help guide states interested in pursuing innovative assessment and accountability models while remaining committed to equity, transparency, and high expectations for all students. The resource, Evolving Coherent Systems of Accountability for Next Generation Learning: A Decision Framework, draws on CCSSO’s 2011 accountability principles and offers state policymakers a series of guiding questions – including sample options, potential trade-offs, and state examples – for re-aligning their systems with next-generation learning, including competency-based learning environments.

CCSSO is hosting a webinar on Friday, February 6th, 2015, from 12:00-1:00pm ET, to discuss opportunities for state leadership in assessment and accountability, and to preview the new CCSSO resource. Speakers will include Gene Wilhoit, Executive Director of the Center for Innovation in Education at the University of Kentucky; Paul Leather, Deputy Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education; and Jennifer Davis Poon, Innovation Lab Network Director for the Council of Chief State School Officers.

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