Education Week reports (subscription) about an analysis by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning of the 16 finalist states’ Race to the Top proposals.
Per the association, the winners were ready to use RTTT funds to offer more online opportunities.
There were also plans in the winning states to replace mandatory seat time with a competency-based progression system where kids could advance to the next level once they mastered skills. Such an approach allows fast learners to move ahead while slower learners still get the extra time they need to learn the material. On line learning can make such programs work much more effectively.
Here in Kentucky, we also have a virtual learning system, but as I point out in the Bluegrass Institute’s recently released paper, “Virtual schooling in Kentucky: Great promise with challenges,” it is under-utilized and poorly advertised. Perhaps the RTTT judges looked at that and decided Kentucky isn’t a leader in this area (which I suspect we are not).
Regardless of RTTT, I think that virtual schooling systems offer a lot of potential to improve education for many students in Kentucky. I also think these advanced educational systems can work much more efficiently than our current system.
Virtual schooling won’t be a suitable approach for all our kids, but it may reach many of today’s students far better than traditional classrooms – especially those dropping out – if we do a decent job of letting students know they have the option and then run the program intelligently.