iNACOL Policy Update – Missouri Moves Forward on Course Access; ESEA Advances in the Senate

April 20, 2015 by

April 13 – April 17, 2015

By Maria Worthen (mworthen@inacol.org) and Susan Gentz (sgentz@inacol.org).

Last week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee took the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) to markup. Markup is the process by which congressional committees debate, amend, and rewrite proposed legislation. If passed, this bill would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). There was much discussion and the committee considered over 70 amendments. On Thursday, April 16, ECAA passed out of committee on a unanimous vote. It is true that our elected officials may not always agree on policy, but it was apparent last week that all of the Senators on the HELP Committee are putting forth their best effort to enact a law that benefits all students.

State legislatures are moving along steadily, with approximately a month and a half of session left for the majority of states. One positive step this past week came out of the Missouri House. The House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education passed a bill to create a Course Access program in the state. However, an amendment to the bill changes the funding model from following the student to appropriation, which is potentially problematic for equity of access and sustainability. The bill must now be considered by the full House before being passed on to the Senate.

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. (more…)

What’s in the Senate ESEA Reauthorization Bill?—Highlights of The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 for the Field of Blended, Online, and Competency Education

April 17, 2015 by

Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions voted unanimously to advance The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (ECAA) to the full Senate. The bill would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), which was last updated in 2001 with No Child Left Behind.

Overall, ECAA moves ESEA in a direction that should appeal to many in the field of blended, online and competency education. The bill would open up greater flexibility around how state systems of assessments and accountability are designed, and eliminates some time-based constructs, such as the highly qualified teacher definition. Of course, the bill is far from perfect, but that’s the nature of compromise.

Here are some key highlights of the ECAA bill (unamended full text here), as amended in this week’s committee markup:

Annual assessments: ECAA maintains NCLB’s annual testing requirement for all students in grades 3-8 and once in high school in reading/English language arts and mathematics. It also maintains disaggregation of assessment data by student subgroups. An annual determination of disaggregated student outcomes remains a critical tool to address equity in the K-12 education system.

Growth measures: ECAA allows states to use assessments that measure individual student growth for accountability purposes. This is an important step forward for all stakeholders in the education system—growth metrics provide a better understanding of how well students are learning, not just whether or not they met a relatively arbitrary average proficiency score. (more…)

23 Groups Call for Innovative Assessment Flexibility in ESEA Reauthorization

April 14, 2015 by

This post originally appeared on CompetencyWorks on April 14, 2015.

By Maria Worthen and Lillian Pace

This week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will begin consideration of a bill to rewrite No Child Left Behind. The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 is a bipartisan bill authored by the HELP Committee’s Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray.

In this bill there are a number of things of interest to the field of competency education; among them, an Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority that would allow states to develop and pilot new systems of assessments that better enable personalized, competency-based learning. States would be able to test their system in a subset of school districts before expanding them statewide. They would be able to use their new system of assessments as the basis for the state-designed accountability system.

Yesterday, a coalition of 23 groups, including our organizations—iNACOL and KnowledgeWorks—sent the following letter to Senators Alexander and Murray, and the members of the HELP Committee. The letter supports the inclusion of the pilot and states key common principles that signatories agree should be included in the final bill.

Senate markup is one of many steps on the road to a reauthorized ESEA being signed into law.  In addition to these common principles, our two groups are supportive of a final bill that maintains high-quality guardrails for the new assessment systems, while allowing any state that is ready to meet those criteria the opportunity to participate in the pilot. Our hope is that this pilot lifts many of the federal barriers that make it challenging for innovative educators to shift to student-centered learning, with meaningful systems of assessments that support personalized teaching and learning. (more…)

iNACOL Policy Update – A Midsession Night’s Dream (and Much Ado about ESEA)

April 10, 2015 by

April 3 – April 10, 2015
By Maria Worthen (mworthen@inacol.org) and Susan Gentz (sgentz@inacol.org).

Congratulations for making it through the first half of the 2015 state legislative session. We know that some states have already finished their sessions, and some are just beginning, but the majority of states are right in the middle of their legislative sessions.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. Senate, it has been a very busy week. The Senate HELP Committee will mark up a bill to reauthorize ESEA on Tuesday. ESEA reauthorization offers an essential opportunity to better align systems of assessments and accountability to student-centered learning.

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.

State Policy Highlights

  • iNACOL is currently tracking 97 bills in 31 states. (more…)

iNACOL Policy Update – April advancements bring May signatures

April 2, 2015 by

March 27 – April 3, 2015
By Maria Worthen (mworthen@inacol.org) and Susan Gentz (sgentz@inacol.org).

This week’s title may not exactly be the phrase we all know, but it rings true. Some bills are moving through with ease while others have started to be referred to summer study committees or may simply be left to wither away. The increased number of bills being sent to governors for a signature is a strong indicator of spring. The number will only increase in the next couple of months.

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.

State Policy Highlights

  • iNACOL is currently tracking 97 bills in 31 states.
  • Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday announced this week that he will retire, effective August 31, 2015. Through his leadership and vision, Holliday has catalyzed a transformation to student-centered learning of the state’s K-12 education system, notably through development of next generation systems of assessments and accountability. (more…)

iNACOL Policy Update – Buzzer Beaters and Bracket Busters

March 26, 2015 by

March 19 – March 26 ,2015
By Maria Worthen (mworthen@inacol.org) and Susan Gentz (sgentz@inacol.org).

As March Madness draws to a close, the states are also racing against the clock as many will be adjourning within the next two months. Two months is plenty of time in basketball, but not so much in the legislative process. As always, we will continue to track these bills and keep you updated every week on important movements or changes.

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.

State Policy Highlights

iNACOL is currently tracking 78 bills in 28 states.  (more…)

15 Bills to Put on Your Radar | iNACOL Policy Update

March 20, 2015 by

with Dale Frost

The introduction of new legislation continues to slow down significantly, but action in legislative committees and within entire chambers continues to ramp up as they hold hearings and votes on bills.

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.

State Policy Highlights

  • iNACOL is currently tracking 83 bills in 28 states

Legislative Calendars and Deadlines

  • Utah adjourned its 2015 legislative session on March 12, 2015.
  • West Virginia adjourned its 2015 legislative session on March 15, 2015. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced an extended session immediately following adjournment but to only consider the state budget.
  • New Mexico is expected to adjourn its session on March 21, 2015. (more…)

Supporting personalized, competency-based learning for Ohio students

March 19, 2015 by

 

Testimony of iNACOL President and CEO Susan Patrick as prepared for delivery on March 18, 2015 to the Ohio House Finance Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education regarding competency-based education:

Chairman Cupp and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to speak in support of the competency-based education pilot program found in H.B. 64.

iNACOL is a non-profit organization with the mission to ensure all students have access to a world-class education and leads the CompetencyWorks initiative.

The competency-based education pilot is an important step for Ohio districts and schools to begin this transition towards providing personalized, competency-based learning to Ohio students.

The iNACOL/CCSSO definition of competency education has five elements:

  • Students advance upon mastery;
  • Competencies include explicit, learning objectives that empower students;
  • Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students;
  • Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual needs; and
  • Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge, and the development of important skills and dispositions.

Thank you for including these elements.

Competency education is rooted in the notion that education is about mastering a set of skills and knowledge, not just moving through a grade level with varying gaps in knowledge. (more…)

The FCC Extends E-Rate Application Deadline

March 13, 2015 by

Written by Susan Gentz (sgentz@inacol.org).

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has extended a deadline for schools and libraries to apply for discounted broadband and wireless connectivity through the E-Rate program.

Last December, the FCC completed a long-awaited modernization of E-Rate, so the program can meet the demand for connectivity and adequate bandwidth as schools transition to student-centered digital learning. Among other changes, the modernization process also streamlined the application process, set aside funds for internal wireless connectivity, revised the eligible services list, and made it easier for consortia to apply.

iNACOL submitted comment to the FCC supporting this modernization process with data and feedback from our members on the clear need in the field for improvements to the program. However, last month, we heard from some of our members that they need more time and assistance to complete the application. (more…)

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

March 12, 2015 by

March 6 – March 13 ,2015
By Maria Worthen (mworthen@inacol.org) and Susan Gentz (sgentz@inacol.org)

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.

State Policy Highlights

iNACOL is currently tracking 78 bills in 28 states. (more…)

 
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