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Keeping Pace 2015: Exploring the State of Digital Learning

Monday, January 4, 2016 -- John Watson

This October, The Evergreen Education Group released its 12th annual edition of Keeping Pace with K-12 Digital Learning at the iNACOL symposium, with Edmentum among the report sponsors. On January 27, Evergreen’s CEO John Watson will join us for a live webinar to explore the report’s key findings.

Keeping Pace discusses the national landscape of online and blended learning policy and practice, with findings and recommendations that are pertinent to the wide variety of K-12 educators investigating or implementing digital learning programs

Some of the key findings of Keeping Pace 2015, and other Evergreen projects that will be discussed in the webinar, include the following:

  • The center of online learning activity and growth continues to shift from state-level organizations, such as state virtual schools and online charter schools, to individual districts and schools. Schools and districts are exercising greater control over their online and digital learning programs as affordable options become more available, schools’ expertise grows, curriculum and technology products evolve, and teachers become more skilled at integrating online courses and techniques into their instruction. Much like today’s musical artists who often sample other music to re-mix, re-envision, and re-create new songs and sounds, practitioners today are taking different elements of digital learning, with varied backgrounds and sources, for use in their own schools, programs, and classrooms.
  • Thirty-one states had full-time online schools operating statewide in school year (SY) 2014-15; 25 of those states have virtual charter schools. Keeping Pace estimates that approximately 275,000 students were enrolled in over 3.3 million semester equivalent online courses in online charter schools in the 2014-15 SY.
  • State virtual schools are operating in 24 states, providing supplemental online courses to about 462,000 students, taking a collective total of about 815,000 semester equivalent online courses, a 10% increase over SY 2013-14.
  • Based on extrapolations from a wide range of suppliers, state agencies and schools, Keeping Pace estimates another 2.2 million students taking a total of about 3.8 million online courses. These are mostly in addition to the state virtual school numbers. Together, they sum to over 4.5 million supplemental online course enrollments taken by K-12 students in SY 2014-15.
  • Course enrollments by subject area are concentrated in core subject areas of math, language arts, science, and social studies, with 74% of courses in these categories. This percentage incudes both supplemental and full-time course enrollments. Electives comprise 26.1% of all course enrollments, including world languages, physical education and many other courses. These data support the anecdotal evidence that schools will often select elective online courses that the school does not offer. The number of world languages courses (2.5% of the total) is lower than many observers might expect, suggesting that the proverbial example of a rural student taking a Mandarin course, while important to the student, is not nearly as common as core subjects and other electives.
  • Policy remains important to improving and expanding the digital learning landscape, particularly with regards to whether students have access to online schools or online courses. The webinar will touch on policy issues including data privacy, course access, accountability, online learning graduation requirements, and teacher certification.

We look forward to an interactive webinar with extensive discussions, please join us to share your own observations and questions from working in your state, district, school, or classroom! Click here to register.