digital divide

This learning style is creating a new digital divide in the U.S.

For example, according to the Education & Workforce Committee, nearly 70 percent of school districts now offer blended learning programs

To provide a clearer picture of exactly how widespread online and blended learning have become, the report found that:

  • At least 24 states and Washington, D.C. have blended schools. Though many of these schools are charters, an increasing number of these schools are traditional public schools that are changing their teaching and learning models to better meet student needs and sometimes to cut costs.
  • At least 75 consortium programs–an increasingly important online learning access point for students and a way for districts to cost-efficiently invest in online blended programs—operate across the country, linking districts across counties and local education agencies to offer locally facilitated online options to students.
  • An increasing number of private/independent schools are also including supplemental online courses and blended learning in their options for students. The report counts eight states that allow private students to take courses from state-supported supplemental programs while maintaining their status as private students.
  • 29 states support statewide supplemental options for their students through either state virtual schools or state-supported course choice programs.
  • Course choice programs, operating in seven states during the school year (SY) 2013-14, are the focus of much conversation and some legislation in 2013.
  • As of fall 2013, four states have online course graduation requirements in order for students to graduate from high school, and two more states have policies in development that are likely to be in place for students beginning in 2014.

The best and worst states for online and blended learning

Based on extensive research, the report notes how many online, blended, and supplemental learning programs each state supports, which includes factors such as funding and state policy, and breaks down programs across different grades in K-12.

Ratings are based on expected availability of online learning options to students of all grade levels in all geographic areas of the state during SY 2013-14. Availability is, in turn, based on the existence and attributes of programs, state policy, and funding, and the proportion of the student population that took part in online courses and schools during SY 2012-13.

Blended learning programs that rely on students being in a physical school are not included in the assessment because, by definition, they are not available to all students statewide, with some exceptions for large blended programs in sizeable districts if they serve a proportionally large number of students in the state.

(Next page: Best and worst states)

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Meris Stansbury

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