Wed March 21, 2012

Think Tank Releases Policy Roadmap for Colorado Online K-12 Schools

Today the Independence Institute’s Education Policy Center released a report [PDF] outlining a “roadmap” for reforming Colorado’s online K-12 schools.

The policy brief comes on the heels of media reports that have taken a critical look at Colorado’s online K-12 schools—everything from academic performance to funding to accountability.

The policy brief is based off a one-day summit in January that brought together about 50 Colorado online education leaders, including Colorado Department of Education Assistant Commissioner, Amy Anderson. Susan Patrick, President and CEO of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) facilitated the discussion.

One of the key recommendations is changing how the student funding system works to incorporate multiple count dates. Right now a small time window in October dictates school funding across Colorado. Some online K-12 schools appear to have a high turnover of students who leave the schools for a variety of reasons. According to Education News Colorado, the student funding doesn’t always follow the pupil if he or she enters a different school.

There is one effort this legislative session that seeks to change the student funding system for schools. HB 1306 [PDF] seeks to “backfill” funding for school districts and charter schools that gain students after the October count date. A fiscal note attached to the bill estimates the measure would cost the state almost $876,000 over the next two fiscal years—a hard sell for legislators who are watching every penny this session.