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Aurora Institute

iNACOL Policy Update – Punxsutawney Phil Sees His Shadow, Predicts Long Legislative Session

Education Domain Blog

Author(s): Maria Worthen, Susan Gentz

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

January 30 – February 5, 2015

With ESEA reauthorization moving on Capitol Hill and more states coming into session, the House, the Senate, and the states are all keeping us very busy this week.

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.


  • Nevada, Oregon and Oklahoma convened for the session.
  • A bill in Arizona would create a competency-based innovation pilot program.
  • A bill in Iowa would repeal the sunset of a pilot program authorizing two full-time online schools.
  • Two bills we’ve been tracking have passed out of committee: a districts of innovation bill in Mississippi, and a bill in New Mexico that could help enable competency-based pathways.
  • The North Carolina State Board of Education approved the applications of two full-time online charter schools for the first time in the state’s history.


  • Blended learning bills have been introduced by Senator Hatch and Senator Rubio in the Senate (S 342), and by Representative McMorris Rodgers in the House. (HR 678)
  • The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held its third hearing on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The forum was a roundtable entitled: Fixing No Child Left Behind: Innovation to Better Meet the Needs of Students. Ken Bradford of the Louisiana Department of Education testified to the positive results of Course Access in Louisiana. You can see the full witness list, download their testimonies, and watch a video of the proceedings here.
  • The House has scheduled a markup to vote on a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act for next Wednesday, February 11. The time and location of the markup will be posted here.
  • A hearing on student data privacy entitled “How Emerging Technology Affects Student Data Privacy” is scheduled for next Thursday, February 12 at 11:15 a.m. in room 2175 Rayburn House Office Building. More information and live video will be available here.


iNACOL 2015 Blended and Online Learning Symposium

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.