Articles and Speeches
Course Access Research Highlights Expanding Learning Options for Underserved Students
July 16, 2014
Arthur L. Coleman
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd), through its Digital Learning Now initiative, today released research in collaboration with EducationCounsel highlighting Course Access as the next step in delivering advanced and personalized education to students. “Leading in an Era of Change, Making the Most of State Course Access Opportunities” profiles states that are using innovative policy and technology to expand educational choices for schools and students, focusing on collaborative opportunities for efficiently delivering quality programs.
Course Access provides public school students with expanded course offerings across learning environments from diverse, accountable public and private providers. Students select from a broad range of courses, in various formats – including online, face-to-face, or blended. Placing a strong focus on student outcomes, participating students receive both state funding and full class credit for completing a state-approved Course Access program.
“Course Access promises states and schools a powerful tool for offering every student every course they need to excel in the 21st century. By coupling state-of-the-art technology with innovative policy, states are using Course Access programs to allow schools to offer courses far beyond what was previously possible,” said Jeb Bush, former Florida Governor and Chairman of ExcelinEd.
“Education systems in America have many roles and responsibilities, including preparing students today for the world of tomorrow. Our students must gain the skills and knowledge to advance in today’s world, but they also must be prepared to respond to future challenges and opportunities that we can’t yet imagine. Course Access can be one solution. By supplementing traditional school course offerings with options from partnering providers, Course Access programs can increase dramatically the learning opportunities available to students,” said Richard W. Riley, Former U.S. Secretary of Education and Former Governor of South Carolina.
High school students – especially those who attend rural, urban or under-resourced schools – often lack access to advanced science and math classes, college preparatory courses, foreign language classes, career technical classes in high-demand job sectors, and other specialized subjects taught by expert teachers. According to the U.S. Department of Education:
- Between 10 to 25 percent of American high schools fail to offer one of the core courses, including Algebra 1 and 2, geometry, biology, and chemistry; and,
- Only 50 percent of high schools offer calculus, while only 63 percent offer physics.
The research and accompanying infographic, “So You Want Course Access?,” offers legislators, state departments of education, districts and parents helpful guidance for passing, implementing and utilizing Course Access in their state.
“It is critical for education leaders to explore and leverage effective ways to offer underserved students high-quality learning options. As a growing number of states consider Course Access programs to help meet that need, this paper is a resource to help state and district leaders make informed decisions, integrate emerging ideas with their existing systems and create new, meaningful educational opportunities for students,” said Art Coleman, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Education Counsel.
In 2006, Minnesota was the first state to pass Course Access legislation. Since, then states from Utah to Florida and Michigan to Texas have created similar programs. Today, 10 states have authorized Course Access programs. In 2013-2014, more than 2,700 students in Louisiana’s Course Access program took in-person, online or blended courses ranging from Advanced Placement French to ACT Prep to vocational classes.
About ExcelinEd and Digital Learning Now
ExcelinEd (@ExcelinEd) is igniting a movement of reform, state by state, to transform education for the 21st-century economy by working with lawmakers, policymakers, educators and parents to advance education reform across America. Digital Learning Now (@DigLearningNow) is a national initiative of ExcelinEd with the goal of advancing state policies that create a high-quality digital learning environment to better equip all students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in this 21st-century economy. The policy framework stems from the belief that access to high-quality, customized learning experiences should be available to all students, unbounded by geography or artificial policy constraints. Learn more at www.ExcelinEd.org and www.DigitalLearningNow.com.
EducationCounsel (@EdCounselDC), an affiliate of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, is a mission-based education consulting firm that combines experience in policy, strategy, law, and advocacy to drive improvements in the U.S. education system. The group of attorneys and policy advisors work at the local, state, and national levels to develop and put into motion policy initiatives that close achievement gaps and lead to improved education outcomes from pre-K through college. For more information, go to www.educationcounsel.com.
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