Digital Learning Now believes it is critical for every student to have access to the high-quality course offerings necessary to graduate prepared for life and work in the 21st century. Courses should be offered in different modalities, ensuring that students can learn at their own style and pace.
“Course Access” describes state policies that allow K-12 students to access a variety of quality courses outside the four walls of their school (where they remain enrolled). This policy strengthens the traditional classroom and school, and allows students to an expanded and targeted course catalog.
These programs promise to offer students more flexible options, expanded curricular programs, and alternatives that meet their unique learning styles and needs. Participating students receive both state funding and full class credit for completion of a state-approved Course Access program, consistent with beginning trends among states.
Not only does Course Access offer expanded opportunities for all students, it strengthens local schools by offering new career opportunities for teachers, new revenue streams for schools, and the opportunity for meaningful 21st-century professional development.
Starting with Minnesota in 2006, Course Access legislation has spread quickly, with eight other states passing or considering legislation in 2012 and 2013. States, from Utah to Florida and Michigan to Texas, have created Course Access programs with popular support from state legislators.
Digital Learning Now supports states and legislators looking to utilize Course Access to ensure equity of access for all students. We have highlighted best practices at our National Summit on Education Reform and championed leading states in our publications. Other support takes the form of implementation assistance, information about best practices, and the ongoing facilitation of state collaboration and cooperation.
We encourage states to consider the thoughtful adoption of Course Access, and will continue to provide leadership and assistance moving forward.