Skip to content
Aurora Institute

iNACOL Policy Update – March Madness: Amendments become game-changers

Education Domain Blog

Author(s): Maria Worthen, Susan Gentz

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

March 6 – March 13, 2015

The amount of newly introduced legislation has slowed down this week. Some states are still filing bills, but most of the action is now coming from legislative committees. Amendments will begin to play a larger role at this point in the process; we will be watching for them closely.

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.


iNACOL is currently tracking 78 bills in 28 states.

Legislative Calendars and Deadlines

  • Utah adjourned on March 12, 2015.
  • West Virginia is expected to adjourn over the weekend on March 14, 2015.

iNACOL Testimony

  • On Monday, iNACOL Vice President for Federal and State Policy Maria Worthen was in Jefferson City, MO, testifying before the Missouri House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee regarding HB 565. The bill would establish a Course Access program in Missouri. Her written testimony is available here.
  • On Thursday, Maria was in Austin, TX, testifying before the Texas Senate Education Committee. The Committee was considering SB 984, which would make some improvements to the Texas Virtual School Network (TxVSN), many of which iNACOL suggested in testimony last summer, Her written testimony is available here.

New Legislation

  • Alabama has two bills: the first would allow the Alabama Public School and College 10 Authority to sell and issue up to $100,000,000 in bonds to purchase and install broadband Wi-Fi infrastructure in all K-12 schools; the second would allow students the opportunity to enroll in a full-time online school.
  • A bill in Maine would impose a moratorium on online charter schools until the legislature enacts legislation that expressly authorizes their operation.
  • A bill in Texas would allow any public school student moving into the state to enroll in full-time online instruction through the Texas Virtual School Network.

Bills on the move

  • A bill in West Virginia allows for the creation of charter schools but prohibits the authorization of virtual charter schools. The bill passed out of the Education Committee on March 5, 2015 and has been referred to the Finance Committee for further consideration.
  • Minnesota moved three bills this week. One bill would allow for fully certified teachers from adjoining states to transfer their certification to Minnesota and receive a full, five-year continuing teaching license without having to complete any additional exams or other preparation requirements. This measure passed the House on March 5, 2015 and has been sent to the Senate for consideration. Another bill would encourage teacher preparation programs to create competency-based pathways for teacher certification. This bill passed the Education Committee and was referred to the Finance Committee for consideration on March 5, 2015. The final action in Minnesota is a bill that would establish the “digital student achievement backpack” to allow for the secured use of student data. This bill passed the Education Innovation Policy Committee on March 5, 2015 and has been referred to the Finance Committee for further consideration.
  • In Rhode Island, a prohibitive student data privacy bill has been scheduled for a hearing on March 11, 2015.
  • A Course Access bill in Illinois has been scheduled for a hearing March 17, 2015.


  • Alexander-Murray Statement on ESEA:Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray issued a statement which says that they are making progress on negotiations towards a bipartisan ESEA reauthorization bill. They say that they intend to mark up the bill in Committee during the week of April 13.
  • New Data Privacy Guidance:Last month, the U.S. Department of Education released model terms of service guidance and a training video aimed at helping schools and districts protect student privacy while using online educational services and applications. The guidance offers examples of terms of service provisions to help school officials identify which online educational services and applications have strong privacy and data security policies and practices. The video provides a summary of the issue, as well as examples to help school officials identify which online educational services and applications protect student data from improper use and disclosure. In order to determine which providers have committed to responsible protections for student data, school officials can check if a company has signed the Student Privacy Pledge from the Future of Privacy Forum and the Software and Information Industry Association.


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.