Keeping Pace with K-12 Online & Blended Learning

The 10th annual Keeping Pace report is bigger and better than ever. The annual review of policies and practices in K-12 online and blended is the go-to source.  The report includes 100 pages of state profiles that highlight programs and identify policy issues.  Following is a quick recap.
New & different (this year or in the last few years)

  • For the first time in KP history, no new states allowed stated fully online schools
  • A quick 4 page landscape analysis (report card) of all 50 states (p10)
  • State course choice programs (p34) with a great summary table (p37)
  • MOOCs were all the rage in 2012 in higher ed and they are beginning to become available to high school students (p39)
  • An increasing number of district programs offer a range of online options to their students

Lead author John Watson said, “We continue to believe that a state role in providing online course options is critically important, whether it is through course choice policy or by funding and supporting a state virtual school.” He added, “Course choice is getting lots of attention–and appropriately so, as it is an important next step–but we should keep in mind that the large state virtual schools are serving many more students than the course choice programs at this point.”

  • First timer? Check out the definitions (p8) and program types (p16)
  • Multi-district full time online schools serve 310,000 students in 30 states (p21)
  • Consortia and regional service districts are expanding full and part time access to online learning
  • At least 24 states have blended schools (p18)

Watson and team held tight definition of blended and, “decided to track states that have fully blended schools. These are often charter schools, and we expect that in the same way that online charter schools have influenced traditional schools, that these fully blended schools will influence blended learning.”
Planning for Quality: (cool infographics)

  • Questions about content, teaching, technology, and operations (p48)
  • Timelines: 12 month timelines for a couple options (p58)


  • For the first time, no new states allowed stated fully online schools
  • Access to online and blended learning continues to be determined by zip code. Florida remains the only state that provides a full range of supplemental and full time online opportunities to all students across the state.
  • Complexity of change is accelerating (p42)
  • Policy matters, funding must be equitable, accountability is key (p43)
  • We may be headed for a new divide between students with 21st century learning opportunity and those that don’t

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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