Getting online student profiles right is hard complex work. Students learning online come from a variety of backgrounds and diverse circumstance ranging from athletes to performers, those with medical conditions to learning disabilities, to those who are academically behind or highly mobile. Student paths can look very different — full-time, part-time (course choice), blended or temporary enrollment. To serve such a diverse population of students from an array of starting points and a wide range of needs, takes critically thought accommodations.
Today, 30 U.S. states have statewide online schools. The schools tend to follow traditional measures of grade-level proficiency and use four-year graduation standards.
The traditional accountability measures create difficulties for online school systems. Generally speaking, students and schools alike face an uphill battle toward achieving state-mandated performance levels. Ideally, online learning accountability measures would reflect achievement and growth based on a student’s starting point. Standards in online accountability systems would be contextualized to accurately measure a student’s learning experiences and academic progress.
In our latest publication, Exploring Accountability in K-12 Digital Education, we review the factors influencing online learning, the current state of accountability, and proposed solutions to best align practice and policy. We explore opportunities for online learning to boost student equity through policy-supported initiatives such as improved outreach and information accessibility, new student orientation, engagement policies, preventative measures, trial periods, deeper insights into student choice, and data integration.
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