Colorado Online Education Leaders Chart Way Forward

Staff Reports —

DENVER—Colorado online education leaders have charted a way forward to pursue policies that expand students’ digital learning opportunities.

The new Independence Institute publication, “The Future of Colorado Digital Learning: Crafting a Policy Roadmap for Reform,” highlights recommended changes in the areas of K-12 funding, testing and accountability, and student access and eligibility. Among the favored proposals are enabling dollars to follow students to the individual course level and tying student advancement to competency rather than seat time.

“Many of Colorado’s current policies are holding back choice and innovation, “said Pam Benigno, director of the Independence Institute’s Education Policy Center. “We have the chance to unleash a lot of learning potential by using technology effectively, if we can remove these barriers.”

The nine key policy changes were embraced at a January 23 Independence Institute gathering by a diverse group of 50 Colorado online education leaders and policy experts, including personnel from school districts and charter schools. Most of the changes were adapted directly from the national Digital Learning Now! campaign’s Roadmap for Reform.

“We’ve been encouraged by the strong consensus for these student-centered policies,” Benigno said.

Digital learning includes both full-time online learning and blended learning models that provide instruction “at least in part, through online delivery with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace.”

The January 23 event was co-sponsored by the Donnell-Kay Foundation and Independence Institute, and featured the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL)’s President and Chief Executive Officer Susan Patrick as keynote speaker and facilitator. Colorado Department of Education (CDE) Assistant Commissioner Amy Anderson and former State Board of Education member Randy DeHoff served as co-facilitators.

A copy of the policy roadmap is available online at

A 20-minute podcast highlighting the roadmap’s background and policies can be found at

The Independence Institute is a non-partisan, non-profit public policy research organization based in Denver, Colo.

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