This afternoon, Digital Learning Now (DLN), an initiative launched by the Foundation for Excellence in Education in partnership with the Alliance for Excellent Education, released a state-by-state Digital Learning Report Card and the digital learning Roadmap for Reform. The report card assessed state laws on how well they are doing at removing barriers to the growth and success of digital learning, based on the “10 Elements of High Quality Digital Learning.” The Roadmap is a policy guide for creating a policy environment friendly to digital learning. For those who would like a background on what digital learning is, and what it isn’t, here is a good primer from the International Association for K-12 Online Learning.
According to the report card, Utah has one of the best policy environments in the nation for digital learning. Utah has achieved 49 out of the 72 policy metrics tracked by the scorecard – tied with Wyoming for the most policy metrics achieved by any state. Additionally, they have partially completed nine of the others, meaning that Utah has fully or partially completed 81 percent of the policy goals touted by DLN as being helpful to the growth and success of digital learning. As the scorecard notes, Utah’s success on the report card is due in large part to the Statewide Online Education Program, established this year by recently passed legislation sponsored by Senator Howard Stephenson (R-Draper).
Given the benefits of online learning – a personalized and self-paced educational path for students, parent empowerment, and expanding the reach of great teachers – Utah policymakers should be proud of what they have accomplished with the Statewide Online Education Program. They should also look at other policy steps they can take to encourage the growth and success of digital learning, based on Utah’s DLN scorecard. These policy steps include a high school graduation requirement that at least one core course be taken online, or a provision in the Statewide Online Education Program that would remove online course providers from the program if their students perform poorly over time.
If Utah continues its leadership in the digital learning arena, children and families both inside and outside the public education system will benefit.