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New Digital Learning Report Card Charts Familiar Path for Colorado to Improve

It’s time to send Colorado home with another report card (figuratively, I mean — not sure how you would do that literally). Back in January I pointed out the release of 3 national education policy report cards. Colorado got a C from Student First for some key teacher and choice policies, a B from the Center for Education Reform for the quality of our charter school law, and a D from the National Council on Teacher Quality for our educator preparation system.

Not to be outdone, yesterday Digital Learning Now released the 2012 Digital Learning Report Card. As usual, with this sort of thing, there are two kinds of news to share. Since we’re heading into the weekend, let’s end with the good news and go with the bad news first: Colorado earned a D-plus. Some of our state’s key shortcomings?

  1. Students don’t have to demonstrate subject mastery “on standards-based competencies” to earn course credit and advance
  2. Students don’t have multiple opportunities during the year to take end-of-course exams (or in Colorado’s case, don’t necessarily have to take end-of-course exams at all)
  3. Not all students have access to Internet devices
  4. Funding is not “provided on a fractional, per course basis to pay providers for individual online courses”
  5. Course providers receive course payment without waiting to ensure students successfully demonstrate learning

Exactly one year ago, my Education Policy Center friends–along with others–brought forward all five of those points, and more, as part of Colorado’s Digital Learning Policy Road Map. That should give a flavor of how far our state still has to go. (I disagree with one point on the report card, where Colorado essentially is given full credit for backpack funding. I refer readers back to yesterday’s post.)

On the bright side, Colorado got A-level grades on two of the report card’s 10 elements–providing quality digital learning content and giving students access to multiple quality providers. Our state also did pretty well on policies that promote effective instruction in the online learning environment.

Overall, despite the low grade, Colorado outperformed the national average in 8 of the 10 elements — which likely says more about other states than it does about us. A better frame of reference to compete with on digital learning policy would be our neighbors to the west, Utah, who beat us 9 times out of 10. We’re not going to let them get away with that, are we?

Okay, then ask your state education leaders to get out a copy of Colorado’s Digital Learning Policy Road Map and get to work!!