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0210emscd1

 

THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234

TO:

EMSC Committee

FROM:

John B. King, Jr.

SUBJECT:

Virtual High School Initiative – Part II

DATE:

January 26, 2010

STRATEGIC GOAL:

Goals 1 and 2

AUTHORIZATION(S):

 

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Issue for Discussion

Update on conceptual framework for the virtual high school initiative in New York State.

Reason for Consideration

              Implementation of policy. 

Background Information

        In November 2009, the EMSC Committee directed staff to develop a proposal for the creation of a virtual high school initiative in New York State. The initiative focuses on the development of a virtual high school to provide Department approved rigorous courses that are aligned to NYS Learning Standards and objective assessments of college readiness. The initiative supports key actions in the Regents’ Statewide Learning Technology Plan, and will provide additional pathways for student acquisition of credit towards fulfilling diploma requirements.

Based on field advice related to digital learning in New York State, and on research undertaken by state and national groups, a conceptual framework for the development of a virtual high school follows for Regents review and consideration.

 

Conceptual Framework

The proposed conceptual framework below includes the following foundational activities:

Phase I:  Establishment of Department-approved online courses and launch of first NYS universal access virtual courses.

 

    • An RFP will be issued for an entity to survey the field, calling for and collecting online courses by external providers in three content areas that culminate in Regents examinations: social studies, science and Languages Other Than English.  (This process will begin for English Language Arts and Mathematics after the potential adoption of new standards in those content areas.)
    • The entity would review online course submissions to ensure rigor and alignment to the relevant NYS Learning Standards at the commencement level. The entity would also subcontract to develop courses in the three content areas listed above.
    • A list of online courses approved by the Commissioner of Education will be posted publicly.
    • Access to approved courses will be provided to all learners, especially English language learners and students with disabilities.
    • Amended regulations are proposed to facilitate innovative, blended, and virtual instructional models.
    • School districts, charter schools, and registered nonpublic schools would provide approved online courses to their students, and award credit for successful completion under the supervision of a teacher in the subject area for which the credit is awarded.
    • A mechanism is established for gathering course completion data and student scores on corresponding Regents examinations.

 

Phase II:  Expansion, review and improvement.

 

  • An entity continues to survey the field to collect and review online courses by external providers in the three content areas of social studies, science, and Languages Other Than English. The entity also continues to subcontract the development of additional courses in these content areas.
  • Depending on resources, expand NYS universal access virtual course offerings.
  • An entity expands the call for online courses in other subject areas (i.e., Arts, Economics, English Language Arts, Technology). The entity subcontracts for the development of additional courses in the content areas listed above.
  • An expanded list of online courses approved by the Commissioner of Education is posted publicly.
  • An expanded set of data is gathered on course completion and student scores on corresponding Regents or other final examinations.
  • Data from Phase I implementation are analyzed, with recommendations made for further development and improvement.

 

Phase III:  Expansion, analysis, and institutionalization.

 

  • An entity continues to survey the field to call for, collect and review online courses by external providers in all NYS Learning Standards areas, including electives. The entity subcontracts for the development of additional courses in these content areas.
  • An expanded list of online courses approved by the Commissioner of Education is posted publicly.
  • An expanded set of data is gathered on course completion and student scores on corresponding Regents or other final examinations.
  • Data from Phase II implementation are analyzed, with recommendations made for further development and improvement.
  • Depending on resources, launch full array of online courses in core subjects (Social Studies, Science, Languages Other Than English, English Language Arts, Mathematics, Arts, Economics, Technology).

 

Long-term Policy Questions

 

  • What are the key roles that the State Education Department, regional educational entities (e.g., BOCES, New York City Department of Education), and local school districts would take in a virtual high school initiative?

 

  • Should the New York State Virtual High School Initiative be expanded to include students in other grade levels and adult learners?

 

  • How do we ensure that teachers are prepared to be effective in a virtual learning environment in New York State?

 

Next Steps

In addition to the elements outlined above, the development of a New York State Virtual High School should address these additional areas:

 

  • Structure and access to a virtual high school for all students across the State.
  • Funding for development, implementation and maintenance.
  • A management system to process the courses, costs and associated results.
  • Technical issues of service, support, and hosting.
  • Changes/additions in regulations and policies to facilitate the full implementation of a virtual high school to all New York State students.
  • Initial and sustained professional development to support teachers providing online instruction.

 

If the Regents agree, staff will use this conceptual framework to develop a more detailed proposal of a New York State virtual high school, for consideration at a future Board meeting.

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