NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

How Online Schools Can Improve Student Achievement and Use Resources More Effectively

August 3, 2015

Digital learning in K-12 schools is moving at a rapid pace in Arizona and around the country. These changes are reshaping the way parents, students, and teachers understand what it means to learn.

Sequoia is one of 55 traditional and charter schools in Arizona that allow students to take classes online. Across the country, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) reports that:

  • More than 1.8 million students take distance education classes online each year,
  • Some 310,000 students enrolled in virtual schools full-time in 2012, a 55 percent increase from 2009.

Key improvements to the state's online education program, Arizona Online Instruction (AOI), could give more students a high-quality education at a lower cost.

  • Eliminate seat-time requirements and allow students to move at their own pace.
  • Inform parents and lawmakers about which schools have low turnover rates and which schools are enrolling students part time in order to help them complete a class.
  • Have the flexibility to progress to the next grade level using credits earned through enrollment in online classes and passing scores on nationally referenced tests such as the Stanford series of exams, or college entrance exams like the SAT subject tests.
  • Hold online schools accountable for performance by paying schools based on successful course completion.

With key reforms to the state's AOI law, online schools could save the state significant money and provide world-class learning opportunities to Arizona students. Lawmakers should update antiquated laws for public school funding and pay schools based on student performance. These changes will help bring a quality education to every Arizona child in the 21st century.

Source: Jonathan Butcher, "How Online Schools Can Improve Student Achievement and Use Resources More Effectively," Goldwater Institute, April 28, 2015.

 

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