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Colorado Course Choice Pilot Programs Have New Resource to Consult

It was just a week ago I expressed my at finding some helpful insights and direction for the recently passed House Bill 1382′s K-12 online education pilot programs. Since then, one of the pilot program areas has received some even more detailed help in the form of a policy strategy manual.

The Fordham Foundation has released “Expanding the Education: A Fifty-State Strategy for Course Choice.” And all the policy wonks sighed and swooned. It’s that kind of step-by-step document, though for those who want the “Reader’s Digest version,” Fordham also made the following 90-second video:

Devoted fans may know that a couple years ago my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow put together an issue paper introducing the idea of course-level funding to Colorado. The report explored a few of the nooks and crannies to consider in creating such an effective, student-centered program.

Back then, Utah was the only known model for course choice. Today, other states — like Louisiana, Florida, and Michigan — also have their own versions of such programs in place. There is more to consider in this world in which technology better enables a student to stay enrolled in his main school while selecting a course or two at his own pace that supplement and enhance his educational pathway.

Michael Brickman’s piece for Fordham systematically takes the lessons learned and asks questions about a host of things to consider when creating a program (or in Colorado’s case, hopefully testing a version or two soon):

  • Participating student eligibility (including age, income, and various special populations)
  • Course provider eligibility
  • Funding source (or sources)
  • Funding amount and method
  • Quality control and accountability

So it’s not the kind of page-turning excitement you would keep by your bedstand at night. But “Expanding the Education” should be on the (real or virtual) reference shelf for those authorizing and developing pilot programs in the near future. And I firmly hope that it leads towards giving as many students as possible access to the most quality course offerings as possible, with funding and accountability as close to the family served as possible.

Hey, a kid can dream, can’t he?