iNACOL Publishes Federal and State Policy Frameworks To Launch Annual Symposium

An organization that focuses on "student-centered learning" has issued two briefing papers to advise federal and state policymakers on areas of regulation that it believes are holding back personalized learning in K-12. The International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) provides specific policy frameworks in each report that the non-profit considers essential for creating "sustainable, systemic" change in education.

The iNACOL Federal Policy Frameworks 2015 offers recommendations in eight areas:

  • To redesign assessment around student-centered learning by revamping the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to allow state systems of assessment to measure student learning in new ways;
  • To rethink accountability for continuous improvement of next-generation learning models by being more transparent, "celebrating" student growth, calculating how quickly achievement gaps are being closed and showing in real time where groups of students need supports and interventions;
  • To modernize educator development by creating systems and incentives that put the focus on competency to teach and lead in personalized learning environments;
  • To make personalized learning a priority in federal grant programs;
  • To protect student data privacy and security while also encouraging the use of student data to provide personalized instruction;
  • To invest in research and development by collecting baseline data on K-12 blended, online and competency-based programs;
  • To build technology infrastructure and broadband access for low-income and rural communities; and
  • To support the development and use of open educational resources.

The iNACOL State Policy Frameworks 2015: 5 Critical Issues To Transform Education paper offers guidance in five areas for state leaders:

  • To create competency-based systems of education that give schools flexibility in trying out new learning models and redesign state systems of assessment to align with competency-based learning;
  • To improve student access and equity by providing funding for blended learning at a level comparable to the funding provided for brick-and-mortar settings and to ensure that per-student funding formulas are weighted to give the needed resources for supporting at-risk students, those with disabilities and English language learners;
  • To ensure quality with standards and performance metrics by monitoring online learning providers and being willing to shut down those that "persistently fail" in achieving positive student outcomes and to reward those that enable student growth;
  • To modernize educator professional development and help teachers transform their instructional practices to address new models of instruction, including personalized learning, blended learning and competency-based learning; and
  • To build infrastructure that will support those new models, including improvement of state broadband, protection of student data and creation of updated state data systems.

"Over the last decade, the education space has witnessed unprecedented transformation of teaching and learning powered by new learning models that allow personalization of instruction for each student. However, this shift cannot be sustained without changes in federal and state policy," noted iNACOL President and CEO Susan Patrick. "The issues and recommendations in these policy briefs provide a framework to transform federal and state policy to accelerate personalized learning and transform learning at scale."

The federal document is available on the iNACOL Web site.

The state document is available here.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.