There are some problems that are too hard to solve in traditional ways.  Teacher effectiveness and school choice fit the bill—they are complicated and contentious.  The good news is that digital learning allows us to solve these problems in new ways.

It’s pretty easy to solve the teacher problem if we focus on providing a ‘great teacher for every course’ rather than a great teacher in every classroom.’

If educational funding follows the student to the best course available (online or onsite) it provides a much more powerful and accountable model than partial funding for a private school down the street.

Digital Learning Now recommends that all students should be able to “customize their education using digital content through an approved provider.”  More specifically, DLN recommends that states:

  • Allow students to take online classes full-time, part-time or by individual course
  • Allow students to enroll with multiple providers and blend online courses with onsite learning
  • Allows rolling enrollment year round.
  • Do not limit the number credits earned online
  • Do not limit provider options for delivering instruction

For example, a Catholic school with a great math team could petition the state to become an approved Algebra provider statewide.  The state could negotiate attractive pricing and share the savings with schools.  The state could negotiate attractive pricing and share the savings with schools statewide.  The state could do the same with K12, Connections, Apex, foreign language providers, learning games, and more.

This extents the impact of quality teachers, gives students and families expanded options, and saves schools money.  That beats arguing about a small voucher program in DC.

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Tom Vander Ark
Tom Vander Ark is author of Smart Parents, Smart Cities and Getting Smart. He is co-founder of Getting Smart and Learn Capital and serves on the boards of 4.0 Schools, eduInnovation, Digital Learning Institute, Imagination Foundation, Charter Board Partners and Bloomboard. Follow Tom on Twitter, @tvanderark.

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