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Thursday Churn: Online roadmap

What’s churning:

The Independence Institute on Wednesday released a “digital learning roadmap” advocating for policy reforms to improve K-12 online education across Colorado.

The report, based largely on a national Digital Learning Now! campaign, evolved out of a Jan. 23 gathering co-sponsored by the institute and the Donnell-Kay Foundation and featuring Susan Patrick, CEO of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning or iNACOL.

“Many of Colorado’s current policies are holding back choice and innovation,” Pam Benigno, director of the institute’s Education Policy Center, said in a news release. “We have the chance to unleash a lot of learning potential by using technology effectively, if we can remove these barriers.”

The roadmap recommends nine policy changes in the areas of funding, assessment and accountability, and access and eligibility. Among the key reforms:

  • Funding: Colorado’s student enrollment count system should allot funding based on multiple attendance count dates. The state currently uses a single fall count date to distribute funding per-pupil, which has prompted concerns as students transfer back and forth between schools. “Such a change addresses funding equity concerns … and provides greater incentive for schools to serve students at risk of dropping out,” the report states.
  • Mastery vs. seat time: Secondary students should earn course credits by demonstrating mastery of knowledge, primarily through end-of-course exams, and “seat time should be eliminated as defined criteria for determining whether a student earns academic course credit.” Students should have multiple opportunities throughout the year to take the exams.
  • Online providers: Individual online course providers should be rewarded based on a system of performance-based funding, “providing the final installment of state dollars when a student successfully completes a course.” A significant share of student funds, as much as 50 percent, should be withheld until a student has successfully completed course requirements.

You can read the full report and listen to a podcast about it.

What’s on tap:

The Donnell-Kay Foundation is hosting part one of its third annual Blending Learning Summit from noon to 5 p.m. today at the University of Colorado Denver’s Lawrence Street campus. Titled “Blended Learning in the Classroom: Opportunities and Barriers to Implementation,” the event features Anthony Kim from Education Elements is giving a keynote.

Donnell-Kay spokeswoman Kristina Tabor said the event is full but anyone can join via webinar. Tabor said nearly 100 teachers from across the state are registered for the event, which also is sponsored by the Colorado Department of Education, eNet Colorado, the Colorado Legacy Foundation, the University of Colorado Denver School of Education and the International Association for K-12 Online Learning or iNACOL.

The summit continues April 24, with a focus on blended learning quality, and May 17, with a focus on policy.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Mutual consent: The Denver Post reports “Denver Public Schools last year set aside more than $7 million to create jobs for 110 teachers whom schools did not want to hire and will probably set aside a similar amount next year unless administrators and the union can reach an agreement about how long those teachers must remain on the payroll under a law passed in 2010.” Read the story.

The EdNews’ Churn is a daily roundup of briefs, notes and meetings in the world of Colorado education. To submit an item for consideration in this listing, please email us at EdNews@EdNewsColorado.org.

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