The Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) published a report on Course Access last July. I’ve been following the discussion on course access because the driving force behind it is a belief in the importance of personalized learning. In the foreword to the report, former governor of Florida and founder of ExcelinEd Jeb Bush explains course access:
“Students are able to attend their traditional school, but are given the opportunity to access courses beyond any limitations of their school. Parents and their children can browse statewide course catalogs, exploring potentially limitless combinations of opportunities. They can design each child’s educational pathway, while considering course schedules, extracurricular activities, learning environments and other interests.”
Richard W. Riley, a former U.S. Secretary of Education and former governor of South Carolina builds on this introduction by writing:
“By supplementing traditional school course offerings with options from partnering providers, Course Access programs can increase dramatically the learning opportunities available to students.”
The report rightly identifies that “digital learning opportunities tend to share a common overarching goal: to expand quality course options for all students, particularly those who require special curricular offerings (e.g., students with disabilities, English Language Learners), those who desire more flexible advanced class options (e.g., blended learning environments, Advanced Placement (AP), or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses), and those who live in underserved areas (e.g., rural communities, high need urban schools).” (pg. 4)
Some of the opportunities that Course Access provides include (pg. 9 and 10): broadening access to resources and experiences, opening opportunities for personalized learning programs, creating a pathway for districts to share best practices and expand enrollment, and creating new positions and advancement opportunities for educators. Course access also provides strong potential for states, districts, and schools to work together to take advantage of efficiencies of scale and shared information.
The report identifies 7 core components of effective state Course Access programs (pg 14):
- Meaningful and rigorous state review of prospective providers and/or courses
- Strong monitoring systems
- Flexible and sustainable funding model
- Alignment with the state’s broader education systems
- Deliberate and sustained engagement with districts and schools
- Effective communication with students
- Clearly defined student eligibility
You can read the full report by clicking here.