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Aurora Institute

iNACOL Policy Update – House to Move on ESEA, States Move Bills to Open Access

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

February 5-12, 2015

The month of February is almost halfway over, but the bills are still being introduced at a steady pace. The federal government and the states continue to discuss education issues, and we will continue to keep you updated.

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, and to 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 Arizona would create the Course Success Accounts Program which provides supplemental education savings accounts that can be used for online courses.
  • In Maine, a bill would require the state to provide full funding of public charter schools, including virtual schools.
  • Another bill in Maine would require development of an essential programs and services funding model for virtual public charter school educational services different from the current model.
  • A bill in Michigan would prohibit the adoption or implementation of the next generation science standards.
  • A bill in Missouri provides that students may be eligible to take virtual courses that extend the full-time instructional equivalent to eight credit hours from six.
  • A New York bill would establish a $30 million innovation grant program.
  • A South Dakota bill states that before implementing any digital-learning platform, a school must provide a student a written explanation of the goals of the software, and the purpose of collecting and recording the data.
  • A bill in Utah would require the Board to approve at least one competency-based teacher certification program.
  • A Washington bill would establish the Commission on Improving Outcomes for Students with Special Needs with the intent to expand learning opportunities and improve educational outcomes for all students with disabilities or special needs.
  • A bill in Alabama would create the Flexible School Calendar Act to remove calendar parameters.
  • A bill in Mississippi that would create Districts of Innovation has continued moving this week. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and has been sent to the House. The bill is awaiting a committee referral.
  • According to the Data Quality Campaign, there have been 102 student data privacy bills introduced in 32 states so far this session. Of the bills, 67 are classified as prohibitive, and 35 are classified as good governance bills. Due to the large amount of data privacy bills being introduced, we will not summarize them all on this blog. However, we will continue to track these bills and keep you updated if an introduced bill starts to move through the legislative process.


  • The House Committee on Education and the Workforce passed a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act on Wednesday, February 11. The archived video of the markup, opening statements, amendments and vote tallies are available here. The bill will now advance to the full House of Representatives for debate. For more information, see iNACOL’s Statement on ESEA Markup and Recommendations for Essential Elements.
  • The House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing Thursday, February 12 on student data privacy: “How Emerging Technology Affects Student Data Privacy”. The archived hearing and witness testimonies can be accessed here.
  • National non-profit organizations can now apply for grants through the U.S. Department of Education’s Supporting Effective Educator Development program for projects that support teacher or principal training or professional enhancement activities and that are supported by at least moderate evidence of effectiveness. The purpose of the program is to increase the number of highly effective teachers and principals by developing or expanding the implementation of practices that are demonstrated to have an impact on improving student achievement or student growth. These grants will allow eligible entities to develop, expand, and evaluate practices that can serve as models of best practices that can be sustained and disseminated. The program includes a number of competitive preference priorities, including one for projects that identifies strategies for providing cost-effective, high-quality services at the state, regional, or local level by making better use of available resources. Such projects may include innovative and sustainable uses of technology, modification of school schedules and teacher compensation systems, use of Open Educational Resources, or other strategies.  Applications are due April 13. See here for more information.


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.