Digital Learning Report Card 2014

Image by MIKI Yoshihito CC BY 2.0
Image by MIKI Yoshihito CC BY 2.0

The Foundation for Excellence in Education released their 2014 Digital Learning Report Card. Introducing the report, the CEO of ExcelinEdu, Patricia Levesque, writes:

“Digital learning has the power to connect students with the best teachers in the world. It can offer all students access to hard-to-serve courses and groundbreaking career and technical education as well as vocational training. Digital learning promises better instruction, tailored to the progress and needs of each student. It can allow advancement when a student masters a concept. It can provide additional support for subject areas where students are struggling. Digital learning policies offer a new way to fund education and learning, not fettered by old constraints linked to time, but rather linking funding to learning and the needs of students.”

The report highlights 10 elements of high quality digital learning.

  1. Student Eligibility: All students are digital learners.
  2. Student Access: All students have access to high quality digital content and online courses.
  3. Personalized Learning: All students can customize their education using digital content through an approved provider.
  4. Advancement: Students progress based on demonstrated competency.
  5. Quality Content: Digital content, instructional materials, and online and blended learning courses are high quality.
  6. Quality Instruction: Digital instruction is high quality.
  7. Quality Choices: All students have access to multiple high-quality providers.
  8. Assessment and Accountability: Student learning is the metric for evaluating the quality of content and instruction.
  9. Funding: Funding creates incentives for performance, options and innovation.
  10. Delivery: Infrastructure supports digital learning.

To gauge states’ progress, Digital Learning Now identified 42 actionable metrics that examine state laws, administrative rules and other policy levers that identify what is needed to ensure the 10 Elements of High-Quality Digital Learning are addressed. These metrics are divided among the 10 Elements and provide states with a framework of the policies that should be in place in order to create an environment that supports a broad system of digital learning.

PA scored a 65%, earning the state a disappointing D grade. Here is the breakdown:

  1. Student Eligibility: D grade
  2. Student Access: F grade
  3. Personalized Learning: C grade
  4. Advancement: F grade
  5. Quality Content: A grade
  6. Quality Instruction: B grade
  7. Quality Choices: D grade
  8. Assessment and Accountability: F grade
  9. Funding: F grade
  10. Delivery: D grade

The report, which you can access here, provides the in-depth metrics that lead to the grades in each of these ten categories. The report also details the 50 new digital learning laws passed in 2014.

Students First – Pennsylvania Report Card

Yesterday Students First published a State-by-State analysis and report card that looks solely at education policy environments and provides a road map for schools’ success. From the press release.

Sacramento, CA. – Today, national education reform advocacy organization StudentsFirst published its first-ever State Policy Report Card, a new tool for improving student achievement that doesn’t look at individual or school-wide test scores or teacher effectiveness, but instead gauges how well each state’s education policies are serving students and schools.

“The most powerful way to improve student achievement from outside the classroom is to shape policy and implement laws at the state level that govern education,” said StudentsFirst CEO and Founder Michelle Rhee. “That is why our report card focuses singularly on the education policies in place in each of our states. And when we look solely at policy, it’s clear that we have a long way to go toward improving our education system in America.”

The report raises serious questions about whether states’ education laws and practices are contributing to student success. Nearly ninety percent of states received less than a “C” grade on the State Policy Report Card, and no state earned higher than a “B-“.

Pennsylvania scored a D and currently ranks 19th among the other states. Click on the image to view the full report.

Pennsylvania has made great strides when it comes to considering and enacting policies that will impact the success of the education system and increase student achievement. Pennsylvania has adopted meaningful educator evaluations that will identify excellent teachers and principals. Pennsylvania has always tied consistent ineffectiveness to potential dismissal and with new evaluations that measure an educator’s impact on student achievement, the state can develop and maintain an effective workforce that will have the greatest impact on students. Pennsylvania has also recently enacted the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program aimed at helping low-income students attending low-performing schools. The Commonwealth has also embarked on a mission to update the state’s antiquated charter school law and should consider including better authorizing and accountability structures for all charters. These policies will all have meaningful impacts on students, and the state should continue enacting policies that put students first.

The report card from Students First has bipartisan support from PA Lawmakers. The Patriot News reported these comments from Rep Aument and Rep Boyle.

Two lawmakers who have been briefed in advance about the group’s report card saw value to it. Rep. Ryan Aument, R-Lancaster, who authored the educator evaluation system legislation, said he thinks the report card should be used as a map for education reform.

Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Philadelphia, called it “a thoughtful, well-researched tool” that should help lawmakers “work toward creating policies that give parents more information, reward good teachers, and force government to spend tax dollars wisely.”

It’s good to see student focused organizations such as Students First and Pennsylvania lawmakers who are willing to talk about the issues facing Pennsylvania students and put ideas for real reform on the table.