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News: Advocacy

Arkansas Learns Strongly Supports HB1785 Providing Digital Learning Opportunities in Public Schools

Wednesday, March 27, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Gary Newton
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HB1785, sponsored by Representative Dan Douglas, to provide digital learning opportunities in public schools, is slated to be considered by the House Committee on Education.

Arkansas Learns strongly supports this bill.

Arkansas currently has limited opportunities for students to take advantage of quality virtual courses. By enhancing access, more students, particularly those in rural and isolated areas, will have the opportunity, while schools with only a few students needing to take selected courses will be provided a lower-cost solution.

If passed, the proposal would add new statutory language to create the Digital Learning Act, the purpose of which would be to establish in law the minimum curriculum requirements. Further, the act would remove Arkanas teacher/administrator certification requirements for all teachers and administrators that meet the federal definition of Highly Qualified. A study to determine the necessary digital infrastructure sufficient to facilitate and deliver a quality digital learning environment in each public school district or charter school of the state will also be mandated.

The act would require that all students enrolling in an Arkansas high school for the first time, on or after the 2014-15 school year, be required to pass a digital learning class in order to graduate with an Arkansas high school diploma.

HB1785 will require, by 2014-15, that all Arkansas public schools (beginning in the 2013-14 school year for public schools in a pilot program):

  • have access to at least one (1) digital learning course as either a supplement or primary method of instruction,
  • that students in public schools have access to quality digital learning courses,
  • and that such digital learning courses not be required in a traditional bell schedule or compressed video, but be available in a blended learning or Internet-based format tailored to the needs of students, meeting all curriculum standards and frameworks,
  • and that such course content be capable of being assessed and measured through standardized and local digital assessments.

Arkansas recently received an F and ranked 48th in Nation in the 2012 Digital Learning Report Card. Digital Learning Now!’s second annual report card measures state policies on digital learning based on their alignment to the 10 Elements of High-Quality Digital Learning, including:

  • Student Eligibility (F)
  • Student Access (F)
  • Personalized Learning (F)
  • Advancement (F) 
  • Quality Content (D)
  • Quality Instruction (A-)
  • Quality Choices (C-)
  • Assessment & Accountability (F)
  • Funding (F)
  • Delivery (F)

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