K-12 Access to Online Learning Grows in SREB States
Atlanta — February 25, 2013 —
Access to online K-12 courses has increased significantly for public school students across the South, and some states now make online learning a requirement for a high school diploma. Those are among the changes in online education over the last three years, according to a new report from the Southern Regional Education Board.
States in the SREB region have led the nation in sponsoring virtual schools for more than a decade: Of the 16 SREB states, 15 have sponsored a state-run virtual school, and 11 have done so for six years or more. Today, however, as support for virtual schools run by the state wanes in some areas, the number of local school districts providing online courses is increasing.
“States are shifting their focus,” said Holly Lynde, the SREB research and policy coordinator who prepared the report. “We’re seeing an increased emphasis on quality. Many SREB states have passed legislation to ensure that students in all districts have access to quality online courses, regardless of whether the state or the district provides them.”
Across the region, online enrollment has climbed. In state-run virtual schools alone, the number of students in the SREB region who took one or more online courses jumped from 32,000 in the 2004-05 school year to 378,000 in 2010-11. The number grew nearly 400 percent just from 2006-07 to 2010-11.
SREB’s Educational Technology Cooperative report, Trends in State-Run Virtual Schools in the SREB Region
, reveals other trends in online learning:
States are making online learning an integral part of high school education. SREB states have been leaders in making online learning a standard part of a student’s high school experience. Currently, four of the five states in the nation that require an online learning experience to earn a high school diploma are SREB states: Alabama, Florida, Virginia and West Virginia.
More states are ensuring that students have access to technology as a learning tool. Many SREB states, including Arkansas and Florida, have changed the definition of “textbook” in legislation to include digital or electronic resources. States also are encouraging K-12 students to use electronic devices as a learning tool.
The new report summarizes the results of SREB’s seven past state virtual school surveys, summarizes legislation affecting state-run virtual schools passed from 2010 to 2012, and makes recommendations for how states should proceed with online learning at a time when local school districts have begun offering both online and traditional learning opportunities.
For online enrollment statistics and specific information about changes in virtual K-12 learning in your state, download the full report (PDF). >